A family of water buffalo greenkeepers, famous for tending to the rice paddies on one of Vietnam’s top-rated golf courses, has welcomed a new member to the workforce: new-born baby Luna.
The bovine brood — father Tu Phat, mother Chi Chi and their eldest calf Bao — sprang to prominence last year as media around the world learned about their roles as “bio-mowers” on the spectacular Sir Nick Faldo Signature Design track.
The threesome have been vital in helping to maintain the elevated status of the layout, which winds its way through tropical jungle, ocean sand dunes and rice paddies and was ranked as the best in Vietnam at the 2019 Vietnam Golf Awards.
They help to manage the seven-hectares of rice fields located right in the middle of the course by eating excess weeds and crops in the area that would otherwise require machinery and manpower to maintain.
And now, with the arrival of Luna who was born in the fall of 2019, they have extra assistance as they strive to keep the course in pristine condition.
“Luna has already been initiated by her family. She has taken to the job brilliantly and our guests love watching the family graze alongside the 3rd and 4th holes” said Adam Calver, Director of Golf at Laguna Golf Lang Co.
Since being domesticated over 5000 years ago, water buffalo have been a source of food and labour for the Vietnamese. They are sometimes referred to as the “tractors of the east” and they play a huge part in preserving the classical Vietnamese landscapes and ancient culture that Central Vietnam is famous for.
Not only do the animals provide a vital service in tending to the paddies, they supply an additional appealing optic to one of the most eye-catching sections of a golf course that is already strong on visual manna.
The rice-fields, though, are not just for show. Harvested twice a year, they yield up to 20 tons of rice that are used to support the organic farm at Laguna Lang Co and donated to families and seniors in the area.
“Continually mowing the fields to maintain vast rice terraces can consume a large amount of labour and fuel,” added Calver. “The water buffalo act as bio-mowers and help us protect the natural feel of the landscape. Since we introduced the buffalo we have seen a number of birds moving in as they feast on the insects as the buffalo till the soil.”
The utilisation of water buffalo as greenkeepers is part of a wider push by Laguna Golf Lang Co to be the most sustainable course in Vietnam. It has completely eradicated the use of single-use plastics in almost all aspects of its operations, scrapping items made of plastic such as on course garbage bags, locker room accessories, plastic cups and straws and replacing them with ones made from materials such as bamboo, paper, steel or natural grass. Laguna is in the final stages of installing its own water bottling plant to allow the resort to completely eliminate plastic water bottles and utilize reusable glass bottles.
The club is also one of only three golf courses in the world to achieve Earth Check Gold certification, a status it earned at the end of 2019.