Destinations, North America, United States

Goats & Golf in Hawaii

April 8, 2016

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.

2 Hawaii golf - lava rough

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.

3 Hawaii golf - little goat on 6

Two holes later, we noticed more goats just off the green on a short par 3.  They looked awfully far away.

4 Hawaii golf - goats off green on 8

Until they started to herd up…

5 Hawaii golf - goats herding on 8

and then they started to gallop toward us.  (Who knew goats could gallop?)

6 Hawaii golf - goats galloping on 8

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.”

7 Hawaii golf - Dad holds his ground on 8

“But on second thought,” he said, “it’s a lovely day.  And we’re not in any hurry…”

8 Hawaii golf - Dad changes his mind on 8

Eventually, the goats lost interest in us.  They retreated as quickly as they had arrived.

9 Hawaii golf - goats retreat on 8

Rattled, we spent some time in the sand on that hole, in a trap that was pockmarked with hoof-prints.

10 Hawaii golf - sand trap w hoof prints on 8

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.”

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  • Reply Ron Fancher April 13, 2016 at 10:30 am

    To be exact, it was actually a 4 hybrid. As you can also see I was a bit rattled resulting in the lie in the bunker. I have had many rounds go to the dogs, but “going to the goats” was a new experience for me too!
    — Dad

  • Reply Dan April 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    To clarify, the chupacabra in question was not blocking my path on a green. It was chasing the beer cart girl down the fairway. I’m sure that clears things up.

    – The Brother

    • Reply Catherine Fancher April 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      I stand corrected!

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