An English cat named Merlin is a wizard at making golf balls vanish, and members of Aldeburgh Golf Club are duly impressed.
‘The cat is very clever,” one player told the Daily Mail. “He knows the best place to be is half way down the fairway where most of the balls land. I have seen him run on to the fairway and grab one in his mouth before running off again.”
Merlin is a Burmese owned by Peter Bryson, 67, and his wife Sara, 54, who live in a bungalow near the Suffolk club, which was founded in 1884. He tends to strike hear the 408-yard 14th hole, according the report in the Daily Mail. He creeps on to the fairway and steals the bouncing balls after they come to a rest. The BBC has also reported the story, and published a photo of the scene of the serial thefts near the 14th hole.
How to deal with this? The club has been forced to introduce a “local rule” approved by the sport’s governing body, The Royal and Ancient in St Andrews, to take into account “abnormal conditions.” Merlin has been deemed an official “outside agency,” a term that refers to the ball being moved by someone other than the player or caddy, and allowing a substitute ball to be dropped without a penalty.
As a further precaution, a sign has been posted: “A large brown Burmese cat has been seen picking up and carrying away golf balls in the vicinity of the 14th hole.” That should do it.