John Lahiff, 75, is being treated in Cairns Hospital after the 1.2m-long saltwater crocodile attacked him on the 11th hole of the golf course at Port Douglas, in north Queensland. The veteran golfer suffered puncture wounds to the shin and calf of his right leg – including one bite right down to the bone.

Mr Lahiff spoke to ABC from his hospital bed and said he had been having a good round until he pulled his tee shot into the water trap. “I drove the cart around to retrieve the ball – and I didn’t see the croc sunbaking just on the edge of the water. I walked past it and then it got me on the way back, and as soon as it grabbed me it took off into the water.”

He managed to drive himself back to the Palmer Sea Reef Golf Course clubhouse, where paramedics were called. “They said it was lucky it didn’t go through an artery. Otherwise it would not have been too good.”

Warning signs have been put up and wildlife officers aim to capture the reptile and rehome it at a zoo or crocodile farm. However, Mr Lahiff said the croc should be left where it was. “It’s partly my fault…for disturbing it while was sunbaking. I think he got more of a fright than me. He’s all right,” said Mr Lahiff, who plays golf three times a week and has no intention of giving up.

“I should have realised to be a bit more aware of it, of crocs being in there…but I just took it for granted,” he said. “I’ll just stay away from them, that’s all. Just don’t hit the balls in the water.”