Water Buffalo Join Grounds Crew in Vietnam

Laguna Lang Co golf course in Vietnam uses water buffalo to groom rice paddies that are part of the golf course. (Image: Laguna Lang Co golf course)

A family of water buffalo—mother, father and calf—now tend the rice paddies at the Laguna Golf Lang Co course near Danang. (Image: Laguna Golf Lang Co)

Long a mainstay of agriculture in Vietnam, water buffalo are helping groom the rice paddies routed into Sir Nick Faldo’s uniquely eco-friendly Laguna Golf Lang Co course.

At his Laguna Golf Lang Co course in Vietnam, Sir Nick Faldo showed that he is in the vanguard of golf architects striving to build eco-friendly courses.

Faldo incorporated more than seven acres of existing rice paddies into a layout an hour north of Danang that opened to acclaim in 2013. Harvested twice a year, the paddies yield up to 20 tons of rice used at the property’s on-site luxury hotels, Angsana Lang Co and Banyan Tree Lang Co, with the remainder donated to families and seniors in the area.

Now comes word that a family of water buffalo (father, mother and calf) has been introduced at Laguna Golf Lang Co to organically groom the paddies. The water buffalo eat excess weeds and crops that would otherwise require machinery to maintain.

Laguna Lang Co golf course in Vietnam, tee shot over rice paddies. (Image: Laguna Lang Co golf course)

Sir Nick Faldo and his team made the terraced rice paddies part of the course’s design aesthetic. (Image: Laguna Golf Lang Co)

“The water buffalo act as bio-mowers, while also protecting the traditional Vietnamese landscape,” says Adam Calver, the director of golf.

Faldo and his design team used the terraced rice paddies to contour and define a 7,100-yard layout set between the mountains and the East Sea that also includes sand dunes and tropical jungle. The paddies shape the third and fourth holes, then reappear on the back nine between the thirteenth green, the fourteenth tee, and alongside the fifteenth fairway.

The retention of the rice paddies not only helps feed the local community, but also introduces golfers to a visually stunning design aesthetic unique in the world.

Of course, in the early days of the game, 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 part in trimming turf and thinning rough.

But in Vietnam, where water buffalo have long been employed in agriculture, the practice has been slow to catch on.

“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,” Calver says.

 

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