One of Vietnam’s leading golf layouts, Laguna Golf Lang Co, stays at the top of its maintenance game by utilizing the talents of a special group of greenkeepers: a family of water buffalo. As every superintendent worth their salt will tell you, prime conditioning is key to the success of every golf course.
Laguna Golf Lang Co’s Greenkeeping Staff
Dedicated greenkeeping staff at clubs around the world deploy sophisticated hardware and innovative techniques to maintain their layouts. But at Laguna Golf Lang Co, the legwork involved in maintaining the elevated status of the layout – a spectacular Nick Faldo-designed track where golfers encounter tropical jungle, ocean sand dunes, and rice paddies – is shared between man, machinery, and beast.
“We’re 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 Lang Co, of the work carried out by father Tu Phat, mother Chi Chi and their calf, Bao, tending to four-hectares of rice fields located right in the middle of the course. The paddies contour the 3rd and 4th holes; reappear in the back nine between the 13th green, 14th tee; and run alongside the 15th fairway.
Courses in Asia have been less willing to let animals in on the greenkeeping act – until now. Even on the quietest days, the water buffalo are always wading through the rice paddies and performing their duties.
“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,” adds Calver. “The water buffalo act as bio-mowers while also protecting the traditional Vietnamese landscape.”
Sustainable Golf Destination
The bovine threesome help manage the paddies by eating excess weeds and crops that would otherwise require machinery and manpower to maintain. The animals provide a vital service in tending to the paddies; they also supply an additional appealing optic to one of the most eye-catching sections of the golf course.
The paddy is not just for show, though. Harvested twice a year, they yield approximately 20 tons of rice used to support the organic farm at Laguna Lang Co and donated to families and seniors in the area.
“We knew that having the holes weave through the rice fields would be a unique and memorable experience,” said Paul Jansen, the leading golf course architect who assisted Faldo with the design of the course. “And also, there would be potential to give back to the community in a sustainable and regenerative fashion. All the best golf courses have character and sense of place. And we felt if we could adapt our surroundings, then we would be close to achieving something really good.”