Craig Knips didn't get a birdie.
The birdie got him.
The Medford golfer was in the midst of a two-person tournament at Rogue Valley Country Club Sunday when a hawk interrupted play by first stealing Knips' ball, then playing keepaway for several minutes before finally deciding the ball wouldn't make a good meal nor a good toy, lest he find some very small clubs.
"I've seen pictures in magazines and stuff on TV of that happening," said Knips. "It was really cool. Like I told (playing partner) Matt (McMillin) afterwards, 'You know, those guys who won got a 150 bucks and they'll spend that and it'll be gone. We didn't do anything and didn't win any money, but we've got a story to last a lifetime."
Knips and McMillin teed off on the 16th hole on the outside course at RVCC during the scramble portion of the Two-Partner Shootout to benefit area high school golf programs.
It was their third hole, and Knips' ball sailed into the right tree line. As the two approached the area in a cart, they saw their nemesis.
"We were 30 yards away and Matt was driving," said Knips. "I go, 'Look at the size of that Red-tailed Hawk. I think he's got a mouse or something.'"
McMillin disagreed, saying, "I think he's got your ball."
Sure enough, the hawk, with the ball in its talons, flew to a nearby tree. The golfers followed, and it skipped to another. They followed again, and again it went to another, this tree near the second-hole fairway on the inside course.
When they caught up, McMillin took a picture with his phone.
The hawk, said Knips, "came from the other side of the limb to our side and turned his head and started moving his beak, like he was mocking us. A couple seconds after that, he dropped the ball."
When they pulled up to the ball, McMillin stayed in the cart, said Knips.
"He said, 'I'm not getting it.'"
Eddie Bostwick and Ron Harvey filled out the foursome.
Bostwick told how a cat once stole his ball.
Knips told him, "I'm pretty sure the thing that stole my ball would steal that cat.
"It was pretty surreal. It was a very beautiful bird."
Harvey, well versed in the rules, told them to return the ball to where the hawk took it and play from there, without penalty. They did, making par, and continued with an otherwise nondescript round.
"It wasn't because of that that we couldn't do anything," said Knips. "We just couldn't make a putt "… we couldn't make a putt for a birdie."
GIRLS JUST WANNA have fun, and that's why a whole bunch of them, 56 strong, went on a golf outing to Reno last week.
What happens in Reno, stays in Reno, but a couple tidbits leaked out. One involved a cart with a mind of its own, and another centered around a book some might find risque.
More on those later.
The excursion has been alive for 26 years, and includes women from a number of courses in the Rogue Valley and beyond.
"It became so popular, more and more people wanted to go," said Cathy Dunlap, who, with Margaret Gillette, organizes it.
It was originally run by Coral Edwards and Pat Humphrey.
A wine gathering kicks off the festivities and a banquet ends them. In between, there are two rounds at LakeRidge and Wolf Run golf courses.
They stay at the Eldorado Hotel Casino and are well taken care of. A while back, when one of the courses put another tournament with the group, a casino representative considered it poor treatment of the women and lined up another course.
"He said, 'I'd love to see you guys cover the whole course,'" said Dunlap.
She and Gillette begin planning the trip in March. They painstakingly convert all handicap indexes to the courses they'll be playing, choose teams for both rounds, with A, B, C and D players so as to make for equitable competition, and make sure no one is playing with regular partners from home or with the same people two days in a row.
"We try to mix it up, that way people meet different people," said Dunlap. "It's fun."
She and Gillette even compare notes from the prior year to avoid duplication.
Gillette received a commemorative plaque this year because it was her cart that got away last year.
At LakeRidge, she attempted to drive across a small bridge, but her foot slipped off the brake and sent her into a creek. Water flowed over the floorboard and she yelled, "Oh my God, my new shoes are getting wet!"
A neighbor and a pro-shop attendant came to her aid and helped her up the steep bank.
And the book?
For their opening gala, Dunlap and Co. put the book, The Joy of Sex, in a conspicuous place on a bar. They then watched with delight as passersby spent varying amounts of time glancing at it or effort avoiding it.
With 56 women roaming around, Dunlap surmised, it seemed a fun prank.
"One person had her hands on it a lot," she laughed. "At the banquet, we gave it to that person who seemed to be quite interested in it."
She didn't reveal the name.
Some things do stay in Reno.
IF YOU'RE LOOKING for something golf related to do July 15-19, consider volunteering at the American Junior Golf Association tournament at Centennial Golf Club.
The third-year event brings 144 top boy and girl players ages 12-18 to the Rogue Valley. The first year, the men's and women's course records were rewritten by teenagers.
Volunteers — spotters, timers, medical attendants, other duties — can work one day, several days or the entire tournament.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Andrew LeSaicherre at email@example.com.
Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org