Golfing Where the Buffalo Roams

When it comes to golf course maintenance, deploying herds of grass munching goats and sheep to tidy up turf and keep rough from getting unruly is old hat, but a golf club in Vietnam is employing a much heftier four-legged workforce.   At Laguna Golf Lang which plays host to the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, a roaming family of water buffalo assist the grounds keeping crew by grazing on weeds and other unruly vegetation to keep the course looking its finest.

“We are pretty sure it’s a first in this part of the world to have animals performing such an important role on the golf course,” said Adam Calver, Director of Golf at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô, in a statement.

“In the early days of golf, when courses were mostly laid out on public land it was not uncommon for sheep and cattle to roam freely across fairways and greens. Even today at some courses, notably the wilder links clubs in remote regions of Scotland and Ireland, livestock play their party in trimming turf and thinning out rough. But, until now, courses in Asia though have been less willing to let animals in on the greenkeeping act, so we’re pretty unique in that sense.”

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“We looked at various methods to increase the aesthetics of the rice paddies between the harvests as continually mowing the fields to maintain vast rice terraces can consume a large amount of labor. The water buffalo act as bio-mowers while also protecting the traditional Vietnamese landscape.

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”The hired bovine muscle is a family affair led by Tu Phat, the papa buffalo. He overseas grass-munching duties on a four-hectare tract in the center of the course where rice paddies run alongside quite a few of the holes. Chichi, the mama buffalo, and her calf Bao also chip in, sloshing through paddies and snacking on excess foliage.

The rice fields aren’t just part of the course ambiance, they’re harvested biennially, yielding upwards of 20 tonnes of rice which is then donated to families and seniors in the community. 

Water Buffalo have long been known as the living tractors of the East, depended upon for plowing and transport in many parts of Asia. As Laguna Golf Lăng Cô’s reputation rises, the massive bovines which keep mowing costs at bay may found a new way to stay gainfully employed.