Golf-Squatch - Atlas Obscura


Whitehall, New York

An impressive Sasquatch statue marks the spot of a fated Bigfoot encounter that changed a community. 


The tranquil community of Whitehall in Upstate New York became the center of Bigfoot mania. The Adirondacks, where 6 million acres of brooding woodlands and unsettled mountains stretch out larger than several New England states, have a rich mythology of beastly stories dating back hundreds of years. Algonquin tribes tell tales of the Kiwak, a massive fur-covered creature who can pierce a soul with its glowing eyes and freeze a man’s heart with a piercing scream. Bigfoot lore is ingrained in this land.

In 1976, what started as an encounter with the seven-foot-tall, 400-pound creature by three teenage boys on a joyride outside of town ended with 11 witnesses, eight of whom were law enforcement officers from three different police departments reporting the unusual massive creature. The beast’s unearthly howl was the most unnerving aspect of the encounters. The incident caused an uproar in the village. The Beast of Whitehall sightings were a landmark case in Sasquatch lore. In this town, the Beast of Whitehall is a celebrity.

Though the 1976 incident became national news, another significant sighting happened a year before in a most unusual location. Clifford Sparks, the owner of the Skene Valley Country Club, was on his electric cart before dawn with his trusty dog, checking on the golf course sprinklers and maintaining the greens. As he reported, when he reached the clubhouse, he came upon a seven-foot Bigfoot with massive shoulders and long arms standing on the Hole 1 tee box. He stated that the creature stared at his dog with glowing red eyes. The terrified dog cowered down in the cart. Within seconds, the Sasquatch turned and ran, crashing into the woods. Mr. Sparks was so stunned by the encounter he used to his advantage.

Sasquatch became the club’s mascot, and today you can find its image as the logo for the golf club. Mr. Sparks commissioned sculptor Steve Mestyan to create an almost twelve-foot-tall steel-wire sculpture standing on the spot of his encounter. This ‘Golf-Squatch’ holds a putter in his hand. You can find a second Mestyan Sasquatch statue at the Vermont Marble, Granite, Slate, and Soapstone company on Rt. 4, a mile from the Skene Golf Course. 

Whitehall has embraced its cryptid history by making Sasquatch a town ambassador. (A similar phenomenon has taken place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where the creature known as Mothman was first spotted.) The region has had hundreds of sightings since Mr. Sparks’ golf course encounter. You can have a Sasquatch scavenger hunt with statues and logos on display in nearby towns and throughout Whitehall. A few years ago, Whitehall passed official legislation proclaiming Whitehall as a Bigfoot sanctuary, and on the last weekend of every September, Whitehall throws the Sasquatch Festival and Calling Contest. 

Know Before You Go

There are several Sasquatch images scattered around Whitehall.  

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