Ever leave something in a golf cart?

Something that's really valuable, or an embarrassing or strange item? It happens.

A survey of local golf courses illustrated just how tenuous it can be to empty your pockets while golfing, placing valuables in the shelf at the front of the cart and retrieving them when you finish a round.

The most common abandoned items are club covers for a driver, fairway wood or putter.

But it is common to also leave shoes, watches, wedding rings, cell phones, pagers, car keys, candy and money. Somebody once left a box of shotgun shells at Cascade Fairways in Orem. Go figure what that guy was shooting.

Kent Belcher at Sleepy Ridge has found wedding rings in carts twice.

"But the interesting thing is the amount of time it took to reclaim them," he said. "I never take my wedding ring off. I imagine a guy going home and his wife asking, 'Where is your ring?' And what's he going to say?"

In both cases, Belcher said it took nearly a week for the guy to come back to the golf course and ask if a ring had been turned in.

At Tri City Golf Course in American Fork, starter Josh Jensen reports he's seen a lot of insulin kits left in carts, but the strangest thing he's seen is a baby pacifier.

At Riverside Country Club, someone who works toting clubs off carts says the strangest abandoned item he's seen is a package of condoms.

Tracy Zobell, head professional at Payson's Gladstan Golf Course, may have collected the most interesting leftovers I've ever heard of.

His staff has found illegal drugs in golf carts, including marijuana and crystal methamphetamine. One time he found a bundle of money, a clip secured by a rubber band. When he counted the dough, it came to $6,500. Apparently it belonged to a jeweler who had just sold some jewelry and placed the money in the cart after a sale. And left it.

Zobell found the owner. Nobody ever called to claim the drugs.

Then there's the case of Mike Carroll, who panicked when he lost something of value at Gladstan last fall. Mike, 61, who grew up in California, recently moved to Orem from Boise, Idaho. He's in the process of establishing a business as a barber at Derrell's in downtown Provo. Carroll wears a set of partial false teeth. They are uppers and include six teeth, most of them up front. He has to take the partial out when he eats. Mike had to go the fake chomper route after a dentist practiced on him and promptly broke off teeth and produced half-way root canals.

Over the years, Mike's routinely left his false teeth in napkins at restaurants, and they've been thrown in the garbage.

Once he ate at a bar and while playing shuffleboard, realized the waitress had taken his napkin/teeth. He wandered over and discretely whispered in her ear what had happened. The bartender saw the exchange and wanted to know what was going on. So, the waitress shouted across the room, "Oh, this guy left his teeth on the table and I threw them in the garbage." The room erupted in laughter. The waitress and bartender started going through the garbage until Mike stopped them and asked if he could take the bag home and search it. He did. And he found his lost treasure.

Well, at Gladstan, Mike had a breakfast burrito on the first tee and took out his partial, placing it in the cart. After golf, when he got home, he couldn't find the $500 implement. He went through his pockets, where sometimes he finds them, lint added. Nothing. He then turned to his golf bag. Nada. He called the golf course. Nobody had seen them but the guy putting the carts away at sundown said it could be in the garbage. Mike said he'd be at the scene at sunrise the next day.

In the morning, there was a frost delay, and with golfers standing around, Mike went through the golf course garbage. Nothing. He asked the pro at the desk if he could take a cart on the course and retrace his route from the day before. "The guy thought I was crazy, but he let me," Mike said.

Mike went over every shot he and his partner made and drove to where their drives and shots landed. He got to the par-5 No. 6 hole and remembered he'd pulled his drive left into a field. He remembered driving his cart into the field, a bumpy ride, and hitting his ball. So, he took off, did a Sherlock Holmes inspection of the acreage.

Sure enough, there in the field near, where he drove the ball the day before, was his set of teeth, bared to the open sky, ready for breakfast.

"What are the chances?" Mike asked.

So, Mike, I asked, what did you make on that hole?

"I was on in two, looking at an eagle but three-putted for a par."

Call it a bite save.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com