FORT WORTH -- Tens of thousands of angry bees unleashed their fury on golfers Tuesday morning at Waterchase Golf Club, stinging at least 16 people and forcing the cancellation of play in a college tournament.
No one was seriously injured, said Jason Heitschmidt, general manager of the course just off Interstate 30, on the Fort Worth-Arlington border.
Heitschmidt said the bee hive was in a tree behind the 18th green. When storms came through over the weekend and snapped a branch off the tree, part of the hive went with it, he said.
Beekeeper David Lister, who was called in to handle the situation Tuesday, estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 bees were displaced.
The University of Texas at Arlington/Waterchase Invitational started Monday, but the bees weren't bothered because the pin was placed on the front left part of the green, keeping golfers away from the fallen branch.
On Tuesday, the pin was moved to the back left part of the green, and maintenance workers became concerned that the tree branch -- they were still unaware that bees were inside it -- might become a hazard if golfers hit their shots into the green too long.
As maintenance employees began to remove the branch, a worker got a "harsh wake-up call and was stung six times," Heitschmidt said.
They eventually moved the branch to another part of the course, but the move clearly agitated the bees and they started swarming, Heitschmidt said.
Play started about 8 a.m., but by 10:30, after 16 golfers, spectators and coaches had been stung, officials decided to cancel the rest of the event.
"Bees were a little upset over what happened and looking for someone to take it out on," Lister said.
Lister said he was working a similar situation at Texas Star Golf Course in Euless, where an estimated 50,000 bees were displaced when the rotten tree they were living in blew down. He said golfers were not in danger at Texas Star.
Heitschmidt described the behavior of the bees at Waterchase as "very unusual."
He said that after talking to golf coaches and players, "no one could recall a tournament being called off by bees."
Wichita State University, which led after Monday's opening rounds, was declared the winner.
Lee Williams, 817-390-7840