Looking for the perfect golf caddie? At one North Carolina golf course, any llama will do.
For the past few months, Brian Lautenschlager, Club Pro at Sherwood Forest CC, in Cedar Mountain, N.C., and Great Smoky Mountains Greenskeepers Inc. owner Mark English have been training 11 llamas to caddy for golfers on Sherwood’s course.
“Obviously they’re a great attraction and will turn heads when you’re driving by the course. Sherwood is kind of in an isolated location, so I thought it’d be something unique to get people out to see us,” said Lautenschlager to BlueRidgeNow.com.
Thus far, the risk has paid off. As one of two courses in North Carolina offering llamas as caddies—the other being Talamore Golf Resort in Pinehurst—the attention has been more than anyone could have expected.
Every Tuesday morning the llamas—which are kept on a nearby, seven-acre farm—are fed and saddled with specialized harnesses capable of holding two sets of clubs. Once prepped, they trek out two at a time with golfers, along with a trained supervisor who tends to the animals while also acting as a more traditional caddy.
After nine holes, the animal is taken to a “llama litter box,” where they use the restroom before going back out to finish the round.
With the idea still in its fledgling stages, the animals have been out only a few times, and so far have “batted a thousand,” Lautenschlager reports. Their hair is hypoallergenic, so there’s no fear of any allergic reactions from golfers, and they do no damage to the course. Though it’s not recommended, they can apparently walk across a green and leave no trace, thanks to their padded feet.
According to the Times-News, the idea of using llamas as caddies is more than a novelty act, though; it’s also a way to make the game of golf accessible to everyone.
“They don’t really cost us anything other than the food, and we use as little pesticides and insecticides as we can on the course, so the animals can graze wherever,” says Lautenschlager. “And that helps us keep greens fees below twenty dollars.”
Plus, it has sparked an interest in a sport many might not have considered before. Lautenschlager has noticed more families coming to the course to play—not only the game of golf, but also with the llamas.