To tackle plant overgrowth, La Grange (Ill.) CC rented a herd of goats in September. Over the course of a week, the herd mowed down 1.2 acres of fence switchgrass, bluegrass stems and wildflowers.
Sometimes, “going green” can complicate processes that are already in place, adding additional steps, manual labor, or requiring advanced technologies. For La Grange (Ill.) Country Club, however, “going green” on the golf course meant incorporating a simple method to mow down plant overgrowth.
“We have a few natural areas on the golf course between holes,” says PGA Head Professional David Hannon. “We try to maintain and control the vegetation through manpower, but at times, the growth and plant species can get out of control.”
Superintendent Jeff Brinegar got the idea from another golf course in the area that had success with renting a goat herd to clear non-native overgrowth. In September, the club rented 40 goats for a week, at a cost of $3 each per day, from The Green Goats, a Monroe, Wis.-based company owned by Kim Hunter.
The rare breed of Spanish goats can eat an average of 150 to 300 feet of plants per day, Hunter told the Downers Grove, Ill.-based MySuburbanLife.
In the course of a week, the goats mowed down 1.2 acres of fence switchgrass, bluegrass stems, and various wildflowers, while the golf course remained open for play.
“The clearing process does not affect play on the course and with the goats, it became an added experience,” Hannon says. “Member reaction was skeptical at first, but once they stopped and observed the simplicity of the program and the results, everyone understood the value and the positive environmental impact.”
In fact, the goats were a draw for members, who enjoyed showing them to friends and grandchildren.
“It was a little different from a ‘petting zoo’ in that these goats are wild, and the older ones are big and strong,” Hannon says. “The goats were fenced in and no one fed or petted them. But just watching them go about their business was fun for everyone.”
La Grange CC plans to bring the goats back next year, and the buzz around the goats is also encouraging neighboring golf courses to give the method a try, Hannon notes.