I’ve played enough golf to know that you can cross paths with a wide variety of wildlife on the links. I expect to see the usual birds, squirrels and turtles. (Yes, I spend a lot of time in the water, so turtles.) Additionally, I’ve shared the fairway with snakes, deer and the occasional wild turkey. My brother even claims that he once had to putt around a chupacabra, but I file that story under “unconfirmed.” Until I visited Hawaii last year, however, I had never played golf with wild goats.
My father and I were spending the morning on the North Course at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island. We were prepared for the hazards which, primarily, should have consisted of superfine bunker sand and a rugged rough made of lava.
The guys in the pro shop warned us about the possibility of running across a feral Hawaiian donkey, progeny of the donkeys that originally worked the coffee fields in nearby Kona. But no one ever mentioned wild goats.
On hole number 6, we spotted the first one. It was a little goat, and we naively agreed that it was kinda cute.
Two holes later, we noticed more goats just off the green on a short par 3. They looked awfully far away.
Until they started to herd up…
and then they started to gallop toward us. (Who knew goats could gallop?)
Master of the understatement, my father said “that’s a lot of fast goats.”
Indeed. By now I had retreated with my camera to the relative safety of the golf cart. Those goats had horns.
“Are you going to play through?” I asked. He stood his ground. “Sure, I think I’ll just hit over them with my 4 iron.”
“But on second thought,” he said, “it’s a lovely day. And we’re not in any hurry…”
Eventually, the goats lost interest in us. They retreated as quickly as they had arrived.
Rattled, we spent some time in the sand on that hole, in a trap that was pockmarked with hoof-prints.
My father has played golf all over the world, but he admitted that the wild Hawaiian goats were perhaps the craziest thing he had ever seen on a golf course. “Well, they weren’t as crazy as a chupacabra” I said. He just smiled. “Maybe not, but we have pictures to prove it.”