Bruce Charlton, 2008 – 2009 president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, grew up in Iowa and enjoyed a fine amateur golf career. Upon graduation from the University of Arizona, Bruce joined the design firm of Robert Trent Jones, Jr., where he has developed a number of outstanding designs, including Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas; Thunderhawk Golf Club in Lake County, Illinois; and The Bridges Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Chambers Bay, the spectacular municipal links course located on the scenic lower Puget Sound, in University Place, Washington, has been awarded the 2015 U.S. Open Championship.
I was working on a course in southern Norway, and while the course was under construction, the construction chief, Darryl Moulder, and I climbed up on what would eventually become the second tee on an early morning in mid-June.
We were stopped in our tracks when, from the tee, we spotted a very large moose. The moose was sprawled out on the sand, sunning itself on what would become the putting surface of the second green!
Darryl and I, keeping our eyes on the moose, walked quietly around the green, which was perched on a rock outcropping along a fjord. We were about thirty yards from the green when, suddenly, the moose started to move. Again, we froze in our tracks, because the moose then stood up and looked at us. We were scared because it looked like the huge moose was going to charge us! Just when we were about to turn tail and run, the moose turned from us, trotted off the end of the green, and jumped into the lake!
Man, that moose could swim! We watched in fascination as the moose pedaled about five hundred yards across the lake and hopped up on the bank behind the site for the seventeenth hole, walked up the hill, and laid down on what would someday be the green. I’d never seen anything like it.
About a year later, we staged the grand opening of the course with the customary round of golf. After my foursome finished the sixteenth hole, I was the first to walk up to the seventeenth tee. During the moments I spent alone there waiting for my fellow players, I stared out at the green and thought about the moose. The memory was very vivid. I had lost my father in the year between seeing the moose and the grand opening the course. For some reason, my emotions took over and I started to cry uncontrollably. My father’s death finally hit me.
My fellow players finally arrived and, finding me in that condition, were concerned. I told them the story of the swimming moose, and in my heart, wondered if maybe, in some way, my dad and that swimming moose were somehow connected.