Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

72 HOL ING OUT Where the buffalo roam A family of new recruits is helping Laguna Golf Lăng Cô tend to its course, as Richard Humphreys discovers G reenkeeping staff around the world use a variety of resources to keep their courses in good shape. Some are quite unique, like at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in Hue, Vietnam. The club is employing the talents of a very special group of greenkeepers – a family of water buffalo. Director of golf Adam Calver said: “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.” “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,” said Calver. “The water buffalo act as bio-mowers while also protecting the traditional Vietnamese landscape.” The paddies contour the third and fourth holes and reappear between the thirteenth green, fourteenth tee and alongside the fifteenth fairway. Father Tu Phat, mother Chi Chi and their calf Bao eat excess weeds and crops that would otherwise require machinery and manpower to maintain. The paddies are also harvested twice a year, yielding up to 20 tonnes of rice that is used to support the organic farm at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô. “The beauty of the golf course design at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô is that we have different and unique environments to work with – rice paddies, river, boulders, beach, sand dunes, mountain backdrop – something we are always looking for in Faldo Design projects,” said Sir Nick Faldo. “It helps keep golfers interested and gives the golf course that memorability factor. “With the water buffalo family that have been introduced to the golf course, they actually help the maintenance team and are ever-present right throughout the season, keeping the rice paddy fields trimmed and the muddy areas neat. It’s a pretty cool feature and one that golfers who come and play here will remember for years to come.” “We knew that having the holes weave through the rice fields would be a unique and memorable experience for golfers,” said Paul Jansen, who worked with Faldo on 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.” GCA Photos: Laguna Golf Lăng Cô