The West Essex Golf Club 15 minutes outside of London is stuck in the middle of one of golf's oldest turf wars: Greens vs. Geese.
An article in The Sun indicates members and local residents are upset over the club's plan to kill geese that are fouling up the fairways and greens of the hilly James Braid design dating all the way back to 1900.
The report noted that gunmen hired by the club will mount an "aggressive campaign and try to shoot three or four on several evenings." One person interviewed by the Sun said: "I certainly don’t want these birds killed in the name of golf." The club insists that it has the proper permits and that many other courses handle geese this way under the law.
Apparently, the goose problem has been getting worse over the past three seasons, although none of the three reviews of West Essex posted on Golf Advisor since 2017 mention anything about goose droppings.
Geese are a nuisance for almost every golf course with a pond, especially those courses along migratory pathways. More than 800 reviews in the Golf Advisor database feature complaints about geese. Here are a few recent ones:
* "The geese and coots had their way with a few fairways. Stupid filthy birds. But, what can you do about that?! Anywhere there are ponds you will have these stupid poopers." review by user trogersaz1 about the Hillcrest Golf Course at Sun City West in Phoenix.
* Lots of geese and accompanying mess." review about the Links of Lowell in Arkansas.
* "Geese, coots and pigeons all over so poop everywhere. There is absolutely no more pride left at this course and it's too bad. Used to like playing here. I would like to say you get what you pay for but you don't." review of the Villa De Paz Golf Course in Phoenix.
According to a blog at www.birdbgone.com - a company selling "bird control products" - a single goose can produce up to four pounds of droppings in a day. It recommends products that can scare away geese instead of shooting them - a sonic device that emits goose distress calls at various intervals, visual deterrents that look like predators and move in the wind or a non-toxic liquid spray deterrent that irritates their senses.
Many course superintendents bring their dogs to work, not just for company, but to manage the goose population as well. Even decoy dogs have been known to work, according to this article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Trained dogs might be the best solution.
Win a dog at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio? Yes, one of these border collies from @Flyawaygeese would make a nice addition to any golf course with a goose problem. These adorable pups start around $5,000. @GCSAA @GolfAdvisor @GIS_2018 pic.twitter.com/jMDP7GVhlx
— Mike Bailey (@AccidentlGolfer) February 8, 2018
So what's your take on the plan in place at West Essex? Should the club stand down from its "aggressive" plan to kill the birds? Should it invest in "bird control products"? Want to share your story about a course struggling with geese? Tell us in the comments below.