Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 11th, 2012
In 1975, golf course owner Cliff Sparks, at the Skene Valley Country Club in Whitehall, New York, saw a tall, hairy, man-like, creature, with big red eyes, bigger than himself, on the golf course. He observed it quietly, and then saw it quickly crashing through the woods.
“I think more people believe now,” says Sparks, who after the sighting decided to add Bigfoot’s image (hoisting a golf flag) to his club’s logo. “I think some people probably think I’m crazy, but they weren’t there. They didn’t see it.”
Anyone have one of these flags to donate to the International Cryptozoology Museum so Mr. Sparks’ legacy can be remembered and preserved?
Now, sadly, Monsters of the Northwoods authors Paul Bartholomew and Robert Bartholomew have passed along the news that Cliff Sparks has died.
The Bartholomews sent this:
It is with great sadness to announce the death of Cliff Sparks. Cliff passed away recently following a long illness.
It was 1975 that Cliff spotted a creature on his golf course, on Norton Road, Whitehall, NY. After over a year of remaining silent about the incident, Cliff came forward with his encounter, telling the parents of Bob and Paul Bartholomew– thus essentially outing himself. The incident was written up and became one of the classic Sasquatch encounter cases of New York state.
Over the years Cliff was visited by many researchers, curiosity seekers, and news media, from all over the world. He always exhibitted an open, friendly and candid attitude when relating his experience.
The Outdoor Life Network and History Channel both visited and interviewed Cliff. However, in 2008, he was interviewed by Mike Carnivale of the local program “Adirondack Journey.” This is probably his best interview as he spoke openly about a seven-foot tall creature which had red-eyes. The eyes were the most dramatic feature to Cliff. After over thirty years, Cliff said the incident still scared him.
Cliff always embraced his experiemce with great courage and honesty. He is and will be greatly missed.
Paul B. Bartholomew/9-10-2012
I was able to locate the official obituary for Cliff Sparks, which details his age, date of death, and other personal information:
Clifford N. Sparks, 76, owner of Skene Valley Country Club, passed away Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, at home with his family by his side after a long battle with lung disease. Born Oct. 6, 1935, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., he was the son of the late Gladys and George Sparks.
Cliff graduated from Niagara Falls High School and Alfred State University with an asssociate degree in applied science.
He married his childhood friend and high school sweetheart, Patricia Ann Thomas, in 1955, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. After their marriage, they moved to Fair Haven, Vt., where Cliff worked as a cattle artificial inseminator. In 1960, Cliff and Pat bought a dairy farm in Whitehall, N.Y. Cliff eventually turned his farm into an 18-hole golf course.
Cliff was a member of the BPOE ELKS Lodge No. 1491. He enjoyed spending the winter months in Lake Suzy, Fla. He was an avid golfer and hunter. Some of his favorite pastimes were playing in the annual Bigfoot golf tournament with his grandsons and hosting an annual fishing derby for his grandchildren. Cliff enjoyed sitting and chatting with all the friends he made through the years of owning the course.
He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Patricia Sparks; his five children, Deborah Sharrow of Gansvoort, Cheryl (John) St. Clair of Whitehall, Dawn (Greg) Grenier of Whitehall, Jeffrey Sparks (Marcy Deyo) of Whitehall, Lori (Jeffrey) Seidel of Fairport, N.Y.; his 13 grandchildren, Matthew (Rachel) Waters of Granville, Rebecca Sharrow of Queensbury, Grant (Amanda) Sharrow of Granville, Travis (Jenna) St. Clair of Wilton, Lindsey St. Clair (Tyler Frakes) of Plattsburgh, Brittany St. Clair of Whitehall, Jennifer (Michael) Wolfe of South Glens Falls, Heather (Zachary) Owen of Hartsville, N.Y., Brandon Sparks (Matthew Lavin) of Whitehall, Allison Sparks of Whitehall, and Jordan, Austen and Camryn Seidel of Fairport, N.Y.; his nine great-grandchildren, Mia and Ava Waters, Payton and Lucas Sharrow, Jonathon Frakes, and Jordan and Bailee Wolfe; step-grandchildren, Justin, Jordan and Jennie Grenier, baby “Owen” Averi Ferguson; his brother, Ken, and sister-in-law, Suzy Sparks, of Springfield, Va.; one nephew, Derrick Sparks; and a niece, Stacy Brent.
Special thanks to Washington County Hospice and Dr. Diercksen.
Calling hours will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, at Jillson Funeral Home in Whitehall, N.Y.
A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, on the 18th hole at Skene Valley Country Club in Whitehall, N.Y.
Sasquatch sightings on golf courses was the subject of GolfStyles Ohio reporter Jon E. Hale’s October 2005 article. Hale wrote, first about an Ohio report, but also mentioned Sparks’ encounter:
In 1973, as Muirfield Village Golf Club was under construction near Dublin, an area farmer and two security guards working at the golf course reported seeing a “hairy monster” resembling the fabled Sasquatch or “Bigfoot.”
A Columbus Dispatch article dated Oct. 1 of that year reported that an eight-foot creature with long white hair was spotted three times by the guards after the farmer, who later refused to leave his home after dark, first encountered it near a fairway.
Well-known cryptozoologist Loren Coleman has studied Bigfoot sightings for more than 45 years and reports Ohio has been considered a hotbed of sighting activity for years.
“What you also discover if you examine as many reports as I have is that golf courses, which preserve local wild spaces and wildlife, are often locations of sightings,” Coleman says.
A June 24, 1980 report of an unusual creature seen in neighboring Union County is believed to have been near a golf course, though the eyewitnesses said the creature “had no golf clubs.” Two days later a Logan County golf course groundskeeper and part-time police officer saw something that “smelled worse than Limburger cheese” and left 16 inch-long footprints.
And in March 1987, an Allen County teenager spotted a similar creature getting a drink of water as he crossed Lost Creek Golf Course in Lima on his way home.
Similar golf course reports Coleman has researched over the years aren’t limited to the Buckeye State. In 1975 a member of Skene Valley Country Club in Whitehall, N.Y., saw a “big, strange something with glowing red eyes;” a Delray Beach, Fla., course superintendent was scared by a seven-foot “skunk ape” sporting shaggy black hair in 1977; a mysterious creature appeared to stalk a jogger near a golf course in Elmira, N.Y., in 1989; and large Bigfoot-type tracks were found at a golf course under construction near Seattle in 2002.
One difference between reports from other states and those occurring in Ohio seems to be the color of the creature’s hair – brown, black or dark-red elsewhere, light-colored here.
“Most hairy hominoids are not white-furred,” says Coleman, who has written more than 20 books including 2003′s “Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America.”
“In Ohio and Pennsylvania, there appears to be a gene pool of white and piebald Bigfoot,” Coleman says.