South Carolina

A drowning fawn. Gators in the lagoon. Sea Pines caddy jumps in.

A Sea Pines caddy sees a drowning fawn, jumps into gator-filled lagoon

Trent Hoisington saw a panicked fawn jump into a water hazard that's home to some alligators.
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Trent Hoisington saw a panicked fawn jump into a water hazard that's home to some alligators.

He’d noticed the fawn earlier in the golf club parking lot.

That’s odd, caddy Trent Hoisington thought to himself. It was about 12:30 p.m. on July 13, a half hour before his shift ended at Plantation Golf Club.

He went about his work and, at quitting time, saw the little deer again, this time on the driving range.

He hurried upstairs to the clubhouse to tell head golf pro Bobby Downs. The men looked through the building’s windows at Heron Point golf course.

And watched the panicked fawn run across it.

The fawn sprinted to a pond on the left side of the range and jumped in. It swam across, got out on Hole No. 1, crossed the fairway and jumped into another pond. It then swam toward No. 18’s fairway.

“And that’s a little bit more to swim across,” assistant pro Marcus Hunt, who witnessed the deer’s run, said Wednesday. The second pond is bigger, he said — and home to some alligators.

“And we all know there is one huge gator in that lagoon,” Downs said. “He owns it.”

And we all know there is one huge gator in that lagoon. He owns it.

Bobby Downs, head pro at Plantation Golf Club

From the clubhouse the men could see the deer was tiring. And trapped. Wooden bulkheads surrounding the water hazard kept it from escaping.

Hoisington ran downstairs and grabbed a golf cart. He motored toward No. 18.

As he approached the lagoon, he saw the fawn swimming a few feet from the edge. He leaned out from the bank and tried to grab it — just out of reach.

The fawn tired.

Its head started to go under, the water covering its eyes. But it kept its nose above the surface. Its head reappeared.

Then disappeared.

Then reappeared.

“She pretty much looked at me,” Hoisington said. “She definitely looked me square in the eyes. And I had no choice.”

Hoisington emptied his pockets, save for a 3  1/2-inch pocket knife, and jumped in.

“I wasn’t worried about gators,” he said. “But if one of her legs had hit me in the face, it wouldn’t be pretty.”

I wasn’t worried about gators. But if one of her legs had hit me in the face, it wouldn’t be pretty.

Trent Hoisington, caddy at Plantation Golf Club

He grabbed the fawn, “held her like a baby.”

He tried to throw her over the bulkhead unsuccessfully.

The fawn started kicking.

It was heavy, said Hoisington, who’ll tell you — with a laugh — his 6-foot, 155-pound frame is “frail.”

He gathered the animal and tried again.

The fawn cleared the bulkhead and collapsed on the No. 18 fairway. It laid there for 20 minutes, Downs said.

A gator in a nearby pond heard the commotion and climbed the bank to investigate, he said, but retreated after being scared off by some people.

Downs’ staff informed a wildlife officer about the fawn. The officer said it might have become separated from its mother. Hopefully, later that night, it would call out to its mother and find her.

Downs, Hunt and Hoisington haven’t seen the fawn since.

“I read how important it is to be strong — to feel strong, not to be physically strong,” Hoisington said, referring to Jon Krakauer’s book, “Into the Wild.”

“And to measure yourself,” he added.

After he saved the fawn, he walked off the course in his wet clothes.

He hosed off and drove home.

There he sat down, crossed his legs, and drank a “coldie.”

Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

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