photo courtesy sherwood forest golf club
Llamas as Golf Caddies
Golfers’ kids can help lead llamas around the course. Mark English, in cart, and Eric Henson, on foot.
Big black eyes… long eyelashes… six feet tall… banana-shaped ears… weighs 375 pounds.
This golf caddy is not a man but a male llama, all decked out to carry two golf bags quietly and safely at Sherwood Forest Golf Club in Cedar Mountain, N.C. Llama caddies work in pairs on nine holes of the executive par-three course near Brevard.
Mark English and his son Eric, 17, train the animals daily on their nearby Fairway Friends Llama Farm. Mark became enthused about the unique idea because Eric plays golf on his high school golf team.
The farm belonged to Mark’s grandparents and today covers just seven acres, plenty of room for 15 llamas. Last fall, national and international press swamped the farm and the golf course to witness and photograph the new idea. Viewers in Shanghai and Holland were amazed to happen upon the llama caddies on their local televisions.
“Llamas are solitary docile creatures, much easier to raise than horses,” Mark says. “It is a myth that they spit all the time. That only happens if you interfere with feedings or if someone mistreats them.
“Also, they don’t make noise on the course because each llama has a handler, mostly Eric’s golfing buddies. If the animal looks around for its own friends, the handler feeds him a little hay or lets him nibble some grass. The llama waits on a lead out of range of the golf shot.”
Sherwood Forest golf pro and general manager Brian Lautenschlager says llamas create less wear and tear on the course than carts.
“Each animal has a different temperament,” Lautenschlager says. “We pair them off in different ways because they always need the buddy system. The handler pulls the right club out and gives yardages because that is just not quite possible for our rock stars!”
Sherwood Forest: 828-884-7825; Fairway Friends: 828-506-1017.