Sheep are taking over golf courses due to the lack of golfers

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 21, 2020 10:06

At least two closed and empty English golf clubs have been taken over by sheep during the coronavirus lockdown – where the ruminants have been taking on the grass cutting duties normally reserved for the currently furloughed greenkeepers.

Several UK golf courses are located near to farmland but animals are typically deterred from venturing towards the courses due to the presence of golfers and greenkeepers. Plus, their source of food, which is now growing more quickly than it has been in recent months, is usually mown away just as rapidly.

But with no golfers bar one or two breaking the rules, and with most golf clubs furloughing all but one greenkeeper, golf courses are proving to be rich pickings for hungry sheep.

Avington Park Golf Course. Image from Facebook

Avington Park Golf Course and Bramshaw Golf Club, both in southern England, have showcased the hard-working animals on social media.

According to entertainment website TMZ, there have been about 100 sheep roaming and grazing on Avington Park’s 32-acre golf course.

The club wrote on Facebook: ‘Sheep have settled in well. Choosing to chew away at the rough which may well suit a few golfers who spend much of their time exploring it.. Tees and rough cut. Not sure they quite get the need to rake bunkers!’

Bramshaw Golf Club also saw the funny side of the invasion – and also outlined the benefits to the course.

The club wrote on Twitter: ‘Been out there for a couple of days. Not doing any harm at the moment.. free labour!’

While sheep on golf courses due to a lack of golfers because of a pandemic may be something new, many golf courses around the world do use herbivores to help out with the maintenance of their facilities.

Machrihanish Dunes in Scotland has used sheep to control the rough in the past.

A spokesman told The Golf Business in 2014: “Here at Machrihanish Dunes we are very proud of our eco friendly status.

“By using the natural lawnmowers to thin out the rough on the course we are able to help preserve several rare and protected species of orchids that grow here on this site and in few other places. The added benefit is visitors can enjoy the company of these unique companions as they play a round. These woolly wonders will have people flocking to see them in action.”

At Elisefarm, a Swedish golf course, the club deploys sheep to graze on the grassland to control the rough, with the flock being moved every few weeks.

“The club has saved time and money,” said a spokesman. “It requires less mowing and less fuel, and frees up staff to spend more time on other issues.”

And last Christmas, Club de Golf Alcanada in Mallorca brought in two donkeys to live by the 13th hole.

Director of golf, Kristoff Both, said: “That area was our property but not part of the course. It was overgrown and was becoming a potential fire hazard so it needed to be cleared. We actually cleared the area ourselves but it needs to be maintained, so now Estrella and Tomás will be doing that for us.

“They are great – two staff members who are no trouble at all! They clear away vegetation, they’ve got a nice place to live with some great views and it’s an environmentally-friendly way to keep an area relatively clear.

“The only issue we have had is when members bring along carrots and feed them with a few nice treats, which means they are not as hungry as they should be!

“It all adds up to an extra element of environmental sustainability.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 21, 2020 10:06
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4 Comments

  1. Bramshaw GC April 21, 16:22

    We certainly saw the funny side at Bramshaw… although we aren’t strangers to animals in the New Forest. They are usually confined to the Forest Course however! Sheep have happily moved onto the Practice ground now.. 12 acres of lovely grass to chew! ⛳️

    Reply to this comment
  2. Trevor P April 21, 11:55

    How many Sheep…………………….Four !

    Looks like one of them is more interested in eating the tree.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Bob April 21, 11:27

    When I first started playing sheep on courses were a common sight. There was a wire fence around the greens giving out a small jolt of electricity to keep the sheep away from the greens but we had many laughs with visitors who initially did not realise the fence was electrified. ️‍♂️

    Reply to this comment
  4. Neil B April 21, 11:05

    Just like my golf ball, they are attracted to the trees

    Reply to this comment
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