Golf ball diver Steve Martinez battles snapping turtles, snakes and gator attacks
Delray Beach (CBS12) —
If you're an avid golfer, you know how frustating it can be driving your golfball into a water hazard. But that's nothing campared to the hazards that go along with getting those balls out of the water, surrounded by snapping turtles, snakes and gators. Being a professional golf ball diver is definitely not for the faint of heart.
"I picked up a golf ball and it was the weirdest thing I ever saw," recalls Steve Martinez about the first time he ever dove for golf balls, as he works a job at Boca Delray Golf and Country Club. "It was like money, money, money."
But it's far from easy money. And man, does the professional golf ball diver Martinez have stories.
"The reptiles, the fish. Once I picked up this 35 pound snapping turtle, it snapped right at my face. If you've ever had a 20 pound cat fish slap you in the chest, it's like Mike Tyson hit you."
Martinez risks his life each and every day to make a living. Like in 2006, when he came face to face with an 8 1/2 pound Gator.
"As soon as I went for my knife, she locked on to my left arm, and took me all the way to the full center of the lake. My hand was still in her mounth, and I put my arm around it and started kicking, we did about 4 or 5 flips, and then it stoped, so now with it stopped I was able to, with my hand still in it's mouth, start punching as hard as I could into it's eyes."
Luckly, that Gator released Martinez from it's killer jaws. He spent months in the hospital battling his wounds and a potentially killer bacterial infection. None of that stopped him from diving for balls again. Not even when a bigger gator attacked him seven years later.
"It felt like somebody just parked it's park with spikes on it's tires, right on my hand, and I knew exactly what it was. I'm under water thinking if I go left is that the edge, if I go right I'm at the center of this lake and this 10 footers got me, and it's big."
Martinez's insticts,once again, helped him survive that attack. And today, his search for balls continues.
"I shoot for about 1000 plus balls, some days are better, some days are not. I know there's a screw loose somewhere here, but I've learned to deal with it, I like the excersise. the thrill of the chase. I don't know what it is but it makes me feel alive."