Pasatiempo turns to goats


Sean Dudley

The historic Pasatiempo Golf Club in California is going back in time as it seeks to clean up the steep canyons and barrancas on the back nine of the golf course.

The club has used a variety of methods to control the weeds that infest these hard-to-reach areas over the years, but is now opting for a tool more reminiscent of ancient Scottish links courses, as a flock of more than 100 goats has been released onto the property.

Pasatiempo has been engaged in a major project to restore the course to a look more in common with the era in which is was built by famed Scottish architect Alister MacKenzie. Tom Doak and his firm Renaissance Golf Design recently completed a major bunker restoration, but one of the features that has been lost over time is the rugged definition of the canyons. Throughout the years, the steep, jagged edges have been covered up by extensive overgrowth.

The club says the goats offer a range of benefits over using a traditional maintenance crew: they will reduce the need for spraying harmful chemicals, and eliminate the need for heavy equipment which can cause damage and noise. Goats can easily traverse steep, rocky and difficult terrain that humans can’t easily reach, and they break down plant material, whereas work teams would have to drag it out and chip it.

The goats will be enclosed in areas that are surrounded by solar powered electric fences. Anatolian dogs will be with the goats to protect them and will bark if they feel the goats are threatened. A herdsman will be within contact or onsite with the goats at all times, and the goats are expected to be on the property for between seven-ten weeks.