Pro golfer hits balls at hawk until he kills it, then denies he tried to kill it

PGA Tour player Tripp Isenhour got mad a hawk that made noise while he was on a TV show, so he drove closer to the bird in his golf cart and began hitting balls at it. He eventually hit the bird and killed it. He was charged with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird.

"I am an animal lover," he said.

After the hawk moved within about 75 yards and perched in a tall pine tree, Isenhour allegedly said: “I’ll get him now” and aimed for the hawk.

“About the sixth ball came very near the bird’s head, and (Isenhour) was very excited that it was so close,” officer Brian Baine of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wrote in a report.

According to witnesses, Isenhour hit the hawk a few shots later. The bird, protected as a migratory species, fell to the ground bleeding from both nostrils. “As soon as this happened, I was mortified,” Isenhour said in a statement through his management company. “There was neither any malice nor deliberate intent whatsoever to hit or harm the hawk. I was trying to simply scare it into flying away.”

Link (Via Arbroath)


  1. Back in the ’90s there was an episode of LA Law (similar to and, earlier on, much better than Boston Legal) in which some golfer was in court because he had gotten angry and killed a swan on the course. I remember thinking that was absurdly funny, because after all, no golfer in real life would do such a heinous, cruelly sadistic thing, right?

  2. He did also mention that he has three adopted cats from the pound, so I wouldn’t rule out a Manchurian Candidate scenario.

  3. because golf courses don’t do enough environmental damage as it is… i suspect monster truck racing is more sustainable than golfing.

  4. When I was in high school, one of the guys on the golf team (who has a golf team in high school? wtf?) got in serious trouble after killing a groundhog or somesuch small animal. He claimed it had been injured and by killing it with a golf-club, he was trying to put it out of its misery.

    Still all very sick.

  5. I love how he says he didn’t intend to harm the bird. When the bird didn’t move after the ball almost hit him, he should have assumed the bird wouldn’t move. What a jerk.

  6. Right. I love how he’s credited with apologizing, when, in fact, he said he was only trying to scare the bird. no. you were trying to kill it. you’re a liar.

  7. I highly doubt he was trying to kill the bird. It’s not like it was a bullet, it was a golf ball. He was probably trying to scare it away, like he said, and ended up hitting it. Whether he was trying to hit it or not (probably was), he likely didn’t realize it would die if he hit it.

  8. I am willing to take him at his word despite what his actions suggest, but he should still suffer consequences and be punished.

    As a boy I climbed a tree to get a bird’s nest I saw up there, not knowing it was full of chicks. When I shook the branch and the chicks hit the pavement, dead, I was mortified. I was a child, I didn’t understand the consequences of what I was doing. He is an adult (albeit acting childishly), he really should have known better.

  9. He got upset because a BIRD made a NOISE OUTDOORS!?!?
    Oh for goodness sake!
    For 4 years I lived in an apartment bordering the 9th green of a golf course. I witnessed acts of idiocy that would curl your hair, though I would by no means indict all golfers from those observations.
    One thing the golfers hated was the geese. We had large flocks of Canada geese everywhere, pretty much all the time. They’re cool birds, but a flock of them can convert grass into slimy waste on the ground at an amazing rate. You don’t want to walk where they’ve been. Some of the course employees would attempt to get rid of the birds by destroying the nests, which is a big no-no since they’re protected migratory waterfowl.

  10. That’s nothing. I saw a golfer hit an albatross once, following which he casually strolled up to the tee and shot an eagle.

  11. Antinous
    Ha, I like the way you think. I too believe my cat is brainwashing me. My newsletter, let me show you it.

  12. I’m just saying that when something lies on your head all night long, it might find a way in.

  13. The Sun now rose upon the right :
    Out of the sea came he,
    Still hid in mist, and on the left
    Went down into the sea.

    And the good south wind still blew behind,
    But no sweet bird did follow,
    Nor any day for food or play
    Came to the mariners’ hollo !

    And I had done an hellish thing,
    And it would work ’em woe :
    For all averred, I had killed the bird
    That made the breeze to blow.
    Ah wretch ! said they, the bird to slay,
    That made the breeze to blow !

    Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
    The glorious Sun uprist :
    Then all averred, I had killed the bird
    That brought the fog and mist.
    ‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
    That bring the fog and mist.

    The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
    The furrow followed free ;
    We were the first that ever burst
    Into that silent sea.

  14. If he’s sorry, let him prove it by giving a LOT of money to fund the National Audubon Society. I’m to always fond of hawks either, because they eat my doves. But I wouldn’t kill one.

  15. Man, his eyes are close together. Family palm tree?

    I’m far from being a PETA member, but anyone that purposefully (he can claim otherwise, his actions speak for themselves) kills an endangered species should get some Biblical justice.

    The ball would have to be bigger since he is bigger. How about 5 minutes in front of a baseball pitching machine set for fastballs, unable to move, and with nothing but a covering of feathers. It would be even better if the machine didn’t start until a bird pecked some seeds placed on a starting mechanism. He’ll probably live, and if he can still swing a club after that I think he won’t try that again.

    Plus, he’s not a good golfer if he doesn’t realize that you are supposed to aim for the little hole in the middle of the poison laced green. That’s why they put the flag in the cup, for morons like him.

  16. “I am an animal lover,” he said.

    wait, wait — i know this one:
    “…they are delicious!”


  17. I am on the fence on this issue.

    I don’t think he should have done that, it was cruel and sensless.

    But, isn’t this kinda Darwinism at work. If that bird isn’t smart enough to move after the, what, 6th or 7th ball. Doesn’t it kinda get what it gets?

    Either way though he shouldn’t have done that.

  18. I believe him when he says he didn’t mean to kill it, although he was obviously caught up enough in being a violent sadistic asshole to not think through the consequences of trying really hard to hit a small animal with a golf ball.

    Still… hitting a hawk from 75 yards?! Shit, his punishment is that he just used up a lifetime’s worth of luck on one swing. If he were that good, someone would have heard of him by now.

  19. People do some stupid things and do not realize how stupid they are until after the fact. His intent was to try and hit the bird or he would not have swung at it.
    I watched a demo clinic with Tiger Woods a few years back. It is rediculous how accurate these professionals can be when gauging yardage. They know what they are doing and this was idiotic.

    But hell, maybe he can vote for Hillary when they do the new primary in Florida and everything will be ok.

  20. you all crack me up – the guy is a turd for sure, but i don’t doubt for a minute that he only intended to scare up the hawk – this is a sport that proves how freakin hard it is to hit a 3 ft putt much less a 75 yard birdie. Puhleez.

  21. I think it was a special blend of childishness and foolishness that allowed him to do something so stupid, especially in front of the press. And whether or not he thought he would hit it, he clearly was trying to.

    If it is determined that he committed a crime (and it looks like he did) he should pay the appropriate penalty.

    However, how much fuss do you think would be created if he had hit a crow or a pigeon? Or better yet, a stink lizard?

  22. Intent is irrelevant. He knew a golf ball had the potential to kill the bird and he did it anyway. He’s responsible for the consequences.

  23. #6 Wolfrider:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you are right, as truth is stranger than fiction.

    Me = naive and over-estimator of human nature, I guess. :-(

  24. “no one believed he’d actually hit it. It’s like shooting at farmers from helicopters”

    Or, you know, putting the ball into a whole smaller than a bird a few hundred yards away…

  25. I have to agree with Rossindetroit: Intent is irrelevant. If I discharge a dangerous weapon in a public space with no intent of killing or injuring someone but do so anyways, I’m in trouble. And stupid.

    Besides, if he really wanted to scare it, what’s wrong with running up to it, waving your arms and yelling? Much less lethal.

  26. This makes me sad. Angry too, but mostly sad.

    I live on a mountain in a rural area, and there are hawks, eagles, and vultures here among all the other avian wildlife. So I see hawks every day, and they always make me pause, as their flight is so elegant and beautiful to watch. Sometimes they fly slowly right above my head. I always wave my arms to shoo them away from my yard to protect my cats, and that always works. It’s malicious to throw something at them.

    A golfer knows how hard his golfball is flying. He can’t claim ignorance on this because even if he didn’t expect it to die, he should have known he was risking injury to it.

  27. I think he intended to hit it but did not intend to kill it. He was just being stupid.

    I threw a golf-ball sized rock across my yard at a squirrel digging in my garden. It hit the squirrel in the head and he fell over. I was immediately sad and felt like an idiot. I didn’t kill him and he wasn’t bleeding but he certainly didn’t get up for a while… I probably should have known better than to throw a rock at an animal but sometimes we all do stupid things.

    and btw I also adopt cats from the shelter :)

  28. He’s an animal lover, he and his family adopted 3 cats from the shelter…wait, *three more* birdkillers? Does Isenhour have an avian vendetta or something?

  29. Well, punishment is simple. Lob a few golf balls at him from 75 yards away until one clocks him square in the forehead or nose. Cheeks, chest, arms, shoulders, chin, teeth, and ears do not count. Forehead or nose. Any mis-calculated shots hitting him in the aforementioned places on his body can be discounted as mere efforts to scare him.

  30. Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.

    Similarly, trial in the press is never fair. He’ll have his day in court, and either find vindication or conviction.

    Either way, I feel bad for the guy. It must have been horrific to see the beautiful bird fall, and I believe him when he says he regretted his actions as soon as he hit it.

  31. That would be a great shot! Hopefully you will be able to see it on Americas Funniest Videos. Its a stupid bird, get over it.

  32. monster says “It’s not like it was a bullet, it was a golf ball.” dude, if you get hit with a golf ball, you will likely end up in er. just like a rock, only fail in a very small and amusing way.

    the golfer is, if he acted as described, a worse animal cruelty offender than michael vick, except for scale.

    as for the supposedly gutless witnesses, sometimes a continued paycheck is difficult to weigh against speaking up. i once fronted off a maintenance boss who went on safari against a pigeon that accidentally flew into the shop. when he instructed the maintenance crew to make a spear, i told the maintenance supervisor that i intended to see him prosecuted if he didn’t find a better way to get the bird out. he called an animal removal company, and i disengaged. he was flabbergasted that he might actually be guilty of animal cruelty. otoh, i was a union steward. fire extinguishers aren’t meant to capture animals.

  33. I wonder how many people who are upset about this hawk dying eat meat. I mean, it’s pretty horrible that he killed the bird–but also, this might be a good time to sit back and think about the much worse way that cows, pigs, and chickens are tortured before showing up as food in the supermarket…

  34. @Takuan

    They should make him golf with that bird tied around his neck for the rest of the season.

  35. previous post—“Besides, if he really wanted to scare it, what’s wrong with running up to it, waving your arms and yelling? Much less lethal.”
    Yes, but golfers are lazy, that would have been too much work. I stopped playing golf about the same time I stopped throwing rocks at birds, about 12 years old.
    He should get 1000 hours community service at a bird rescue facility.

  36. Who cares if a hawk dies? Fine him and be done with it.

    It’s not like he was hitting balls at a baby.

  37. If you are not going to eat it, don’t kill it.

    He is a pro golfer. He knows what a driven ball does. He behaved carelessly and irresponsibly and deliberately – enough.

    This is going to haunt him, if he has a normal conscience. It is one thing to accidentally run over an animal driving a car, it’s another to swerve jokingly and hit one. I am sure he will be fined, the press will punish him, his associations may sanction him. But if he wishes to make karmic restitution he better do something direct and firsthand to help this species.

    Some education perhaps? Spend some time with raptors in the company of people who know them and be humbled a little.

  38. “Who cares if a hawk dies?”

    That’s just wrong. No, it’s not human but it’s still a living creature.

  39. oh, something occurs to me; a (relatively) harmless way to frighten off unwanted birds (eg: from film sets where they are rolling sound)is by dazzling them with lasers. You don’t have to use high power or long exposure to their eyes, just flash it over them erratically.

    Moot I suppose, soon enough they will be banned due to kiddies and aircraft.

  40. Wow, a lot of people concerned about birds. I think it’s fine to kill birds. However, I do think that if you kill it, you should eat it.

    The main issue is whether the hawk is protected as “endangered species” or just as a “migratory bird” as mentioned.

    There are a lot of protected migratory birds, like the previously mentioned geese. It’s not like there’s a shortage of damn geese!
    They make a mess of fields, docks and lakes, and they also happen to be good eating.

    Come on, let me go down to the field, kill and eat the stupid geese that are ruining it. And for that matter, if someone kills a bird which is not endangered – who cares.

  41. Because people who kill animals for entertainment or because they’re cranky don’t always stop there. It’s a mindset. I eat my own weight in meat every week, but I wouldn’t kill something because it tweeted at me.

  42. posted by Antinous , March 7, 2008 7:17 PM

    Because people who kill animals for entertainment or because they’re cranky don’t always stop there. It’s a mindset. I eat my own weight in meat every week, but I wouldn’t kill something because it tweeted at me.

    Antinous, please tell me that it’s not all in one sitting…

  43. Antinous, please tell me that it’s not all in one sitting…

    That makes me sound….reptilian. No, I don’t live in Denver.

  44. It reminds me of what Chris Farley did to that napkin in the restaurant scene in Tommy Boy. Kinda of a weird Lenny Smalls moment.

  45. I think we are all missing the bigger issue here, which is, holy shit, he actually HIT the damn thing from 75 yards? This guy is the next Tiger Woods if he has that kind of control. Someone sponsor this genius of golf… But seriously, hawks make noise? I know eagles kind of scream or whatever but I grew up in the midwest and I never once heard a hawk cry. This is what it sounds like when hawks get hit by golf balls.

  46. eagles don’t scream, they twitter like little birds

    and several shots at 75 yards to hit an overall square foot target ain’t THAT special – especially when he wasn’t even really expecting to

  47. He sounds like a child with his or her first pellet rifle. “I didn’t think I would hit it.”

  48. the guy is a pro golfer, it happened in orlando, and he should definatly have to do some penance for his crime ( and it is a federal crime to kill an animal on the endangered species list). he was shooting an instructional golf video when the afforementioned bird-of-prey wouldn’t be as quiet as mr. butthead wished, so he punished mr red shouldered hawk. great shot. dead hawk. sad and stupid, not a great combo…

  49. I f-kin hate golfers. The next time someone goes on a shooting rampage here in the US, they should take out some golfers. Leave the innocent students alone, kill some friggin golfers.

  50. It is fascinating how many believers of the 19th Century School Of Humans Are The End All Be All Of The Almighty’s Creation people this drew out.

    I nominate you all for a little golf balls to the head by a pro golfer therapy. I mean, after all, you’re just an anachronism, right. It’s not like you’re actually a human or a baby or anything.

  51. He was trying to hit the bird but not to kill it. He didn’t know that a rock hard ball, travelling at 50km/h, hitting bird with a tiny head was going to kill or hurt it. Now, if he really believed that, he should never be allowed anywhere near a golf club or a golf ball ever again, because he probably also believed that golf balls also cannot hurt children if they are hit in the head.

    He should not be punished, except that he should never ever touch another golf club again in his life.

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