April 12th 2023 - Sixty-three-year-old North Port, Florida resident Paul Pavlakis, had no idea what his day at The Links at Lakehouse executive golf course would bring with him. The Blue Origin aerospace manufacturing electrical engineer had opted to play in Rotunda on slightly rainy day – on the 6th tee, his three-year-old Honma Tour World 747 driver slipped from his hand and flew into a pond.
“I don’t wear a glove because I just like to feel the club,” recalls Pavlakis. “So it flew right out of my hands like a perfect boomerang – end over end. And I’m watching in horror, thinking that’s a $400 club. It lands out in the water, and it floats.”
Originally horrified that the club would sink, Pavlakis figured at some point, it would wash up to the pond’s shore. Defeated, he and his playing partner proceed to the fairway and wait to take their approach shots.
“There was nothing I could do.” Not at that moment, anyway.
However, Pavlakis happened to turn over his shoulder to check on the floating Honma club, and saw an alligator swimming towards the club. The gator grabbed the driver in its jaws and started to munch and swim away.
“The entire golf course stops and everyone’s got their phones out to take videos, including me,” he says. “I figured it was toast because the gator was just going to squash it, and that would be the end of the club.”
Gators in Florida have been known to get as big as ten feet long, with a bite force of up to 2000 pounds per square inch - compare that to the 120 pounds per square inch of humans - surely enough to squash a driver’s head, in theory.
“I thought he was going to puncture it, and it would sink.”
In the video, which you can watch here, the alligator calmly fiddles with and swims with the driver head secured in its mouth, shaft raised above the water like a tempting branch for birds.
After about ten minutes, the gator must have realized it was not edible, and dropped the club – it washed onto the shore shortly after. Pavlakis went to retrieve the driver about an hour later when the pond was surely clear of the alligator.
“When I saw it on the shoreline from a distance, I thought it was going to be all mangled,” he recounts.
Miraculously, the club had nothing but a few scratches on it. “I picked it up and wondered how it was even possible.”
Honma clubs, manufactured in Sakata Japan, are made with meticulous craftsmanship by skilled “Takumi” or craftsman, using only the highest quality materials. Apparently, the quality is superb enough to survive the jaws of an alligator with nothing more than a few scratches.
Honma continues to make the Tour World line with the same high-quality materials as Pavlakis’s TW747 driver, offering premium precision with their irons, and long and high flight distance with their drivers.
“I’ve been using it ever since. It’s my go-to driver,” Pavlakis says about his Honma TW747 driver. The event has earned him the nickname “Mr. Gator” at the Links golf course. He also plays a Honma hybrid.
The whole experience may well give his game some teeth.
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