Real or hoax? Massive gator spotted roaming golf course

An American alligator shows off it's teeth as it basks in the sun along the Shark Valley tram road in Everglades National Park. (Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times)
An American alligator shows off it's teeth as it basks in the sun along the Shark Valley tram road in Everglades National Park. (Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times)

If you’ve seen the viral video of a giant alligator strolling across a Florida golf course, then you’ve probably had the same reaction we did:

Can that be real?

The video, originally posted by Charles Helms on his Facebook page Wednesday, May 25, shows a large alligator meandering across the fairway at Buffalo Creek Golf Course in Palmetto. The alligator is so big (some have estimated it to be around 15 feet), one of the watchers suspected it might be "two guys in an alligator suit."

"I didn't know if we were being punked or something," Helms later told reporters.

Helms’ video has since traveled the globe with similar expressions of shock and disbelief. It has been picked up by several news outlets including Golf.com, Time and The Guardian. The video posted on Golf.com’s YouTube account has 6.1 million views as of this writing. Someone even mashed up Helms’ video with scenes from Jurassic Park.

So, is it real? We went to the Manatee County golf course to find out.