Kansas Golf Course Uses Goats for Weed Management

November 12, 2016 12:01 PM
 
Golf Course Goats

Among changes underway at the former Highlands golf course north of Hutchinson, Kan., the new owner is taking a different approach to weed management for the 44-year-old course.

Goats.

"They love the weeds," said Matt Seitz, general manager of the now Crazy Horse Sport Club and Golf Course. "Especially the poison ivy. I saw them running along and they just stopped and started gobbling it up. It's like candy to them."

Jon Mollhagen, the Lorraine rancher and businessman who bought the course earlier this year, obtained the three female animals from a friend, said Seitz, who did not know their breed.

"This a good way of controlling the weeds without chemicals," Seitz explained. "We used to spray it, but it's hard to control and we'd rather do it without all the herbicides and stuff."

Besides, Seitz tells The Hutchinson News, "they're good at getting people talking. It's something new."

They are moving the animals around the course on 30-foot tethers, to target certain areas and so they are not free just to run around the grounds.

"We keep them off the fairways and the greens," he said. "They're just in the deep rough."

Golfers, however, are free to pet or otherwise interact with the small animals, Seitz said.

"They are really social," Seitz said. "They love people. They will come up to you and rub against you. They want to be petted. I thought they might be a little cantankerous, but not these gals. They don't bite, though I did have one try to chew on my pant leg."

The course has set up a shelter near a small pond were the goats go at night.

The goats don't each much grass, Seitz said, just the weeds. They are also supplementing their diet with alfalfa pellets.

While apparently unique for courses in Kansas, Mollhagen did not invent the idea, Seitz said.

"They use them in Scotland, and at Whistling Straits," a 36-hole course in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, "they have four or five goats."

"Right now it's just an experiment," Seitz said. "If it pans out, if we like what they're doing and people like them, we may get more if needed. If they're too much of a problem or maintenance concern, they may go back to their previous life."

Other changes at the golf course involve the clubhouse, now under remodel, and landscaping.

"We're cutting out some trees, opening up the course, so people can see more of the sand hills and to get the grass to grow," Seitz said.

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