The task of maintaining the Nick Faldo-designed golf course at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in Vietnam is enjoying help from a rather unusual source – a family of water buffalo.
The bovine threesome act as bio-mowers at the popular resort, while also protecting the traditional Vietnamese landscape, helping to manage four hectares of rice fields located in the middle of the golf course by eating excess weeds and crops in the area that would otherwise require machinery and manpower to maintain.
The rice paddies contour the 3rd and 4th holes and reappear in the back nine between the 13th green, 14th tee and run alongside the 15th fairway.
“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, of the work carried out by the water buffalo. “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, 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. 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 labour.”
Harvested twice a year, the paddy fields yield up to 20 tons of rice that are used to support the organic farm at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô and donated to families and seniors in the area.
Si Nick Faldo said: “We knew that having the holes weave through the rice fields would be a unique and memorable experience for golfers. And there would be potential to give back to the community in a sustainable and regenerative fashion. All the best golf courses have character and at Faldo Design our philosophy has always been to work with the natural environment presented before us. Laguna Golf Lăng Côis a special place and, right from the first moment we were on site, we felt that if we could adapt to the surroundings then we would be close to achieving something really special with this golf course.”