Geese are a nuisance on every golf course.  (Courtesy of Getty Images )

English golf club draws fire for plans to kill geese on the course

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.

* "Mother nature brought in literally hundreds of geese and droppings were a problem." review of the Palm course at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale.

* "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.

* "Issue I have is tons of geese poop. And not just a few holes but like 8 of 9 holes you are walking through poop." review of the Fremont Park Golf Course in Fremont, Calif.

According to a blog at - 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.

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.

Feb 08, 2018

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Blair's avatar
Blair wrote at 2018-02-17 18:46:48+00:00:

There's a more humane way to do it. In Canada, they use dogs to get rid of geese on the golf courses.

Placer Dave's avatar
Placer Dave wrote at 2018-02-13 01:52:11+00:00:

once told by head grounds superintendent at Teal Bend golf course in Sacramento,calif. that if you can identify and place a matriarch ,and patriarch goose on a pond they will drive off the newcomers, he also used a border collie to drive the geese into the water ,knowing that they feed on land, if driven into the ponds long enough they will leave.

Brad Coombs's avatar
Brad Coombs wrote at 2018-02-09 04:04:10+00:00:

We had them on our course and we put statue's of Bashers around and the Geese left.

Brad Coombs's avatar
Brad Coombs wrote at 2018-02-09 03:58:02+00:00:

We had Geese on our course and we put a statue of a Badger around the green and no more Geese. They are afraid of Bashers.

LarryD's avatar
LarryD wrote at 2018-02-09 02:37:53+00:00:

Another problem with geese poop. I contracted Salmonella last year after playing golf in Arkansas.

Health Department said I probably got it from handling a golf ball that had been around the poop.

Tom Q's avatar
Tom Q wrote at 2018-02-09 02:37:03+00:00:

Geese dont play golf and dont know the difference between a golf course or the neighborhood lake.

Leave them alone and get a dog .the dog would have fun, and the problem would be solved.humans always think that they are privileged. Take up skeet shooting!

ElevenBravo21's avatar
ElevenBravo21 wrote at 2018-02-09 02:22:45+00:00:

Next people are going to give the geese driver licenses, allow them to vote and draw welfare!

sixeagles's avatar
sixeagles wrote at 2018-02-09 01:50:11+00:00:

We have controlling deer hunts to thin the herds. If it is done on that basis then perhaps it could be a solution when detergents fail. The thing with detergents however is the geese just go somewhere else to be somebody else's problem.

Larry R's avatar
Larry R wrote at 2018-02-08 22:06:04+00:00:

In response to Mike B. Trump should include geese in the NAFTA talks. Canada will stop exporting geese in exchange for the right to export other products

Steve Mac's avatar
Steve Mac wrote at 2018-02-08 21:57:18+00:00:

West Essex is an overpriced Dump, shoot the birds and it'll have practically NO visitors!! What an elegant solution from a cerebrally challenged golf club. Goose droppings...... Yeah that's the problem with we Essex

Jeff Kent's avatar
Jeff Kent wrote at 2018-02-08 21:52:58+00:00:

River ridge GC in Eugene,Oregon had 3 Australian shepherds like the ones in the photo that were also the pets of the owners,who lived on the property.

The severe geese problem with the Willamette River running along the course disappeared.The thousands in huge flocks found friendlier venues with this humane solution.

Mike B.'s avatar
Mike B. wrote at 2018-02-08 21:43:48+00:00:

Here in the U.S., especially in the northern states they are a huge problem. Just need to build a large wall on the northern border to stop the migration process. :)

Don Lekawa 's avatar
Don Lekawa wrote at 2018-02-08 21:29:34+00:00:

We would never tolerate this on a playground. Why should we tolerate on a golf course.

Jerbo's avatar
Jerbo wrote at 2018-02-08 21:21:51+00:00:

Turn Labrador Retrievers loose on the course and the geese will be gone.

jack's avatar
jack wrote at 2018-02-08 23:08:39+00:00:

In the Villages in Florida, they put cyote statues around and the geese were gone.

Peter's avatar
Peter wrote at 2018-02-08 21:12:16+00:00:

I play at a course that had a Canada Geese problem. Some of the members endorsed killing the birds and the club actually followed a process to obtain permits required to do this. It is quite easy to kill these birds at the end of the golf season when they are very comfortable around people that you can approach to within a few feet of them. One of the members thought it would be “sporting” to participate in this cull using a bow and arrow. The cull was conducted with shotguns I’m told.

Needless to say, as word circulated about this barbaric solution to the problem of geese on the course, it was replaced with a sonic device that produces a goose distress call and 15-20 coyote decoys spread around the course. This season I did not see any geese at all. I did see a family of ducks sitting beside one of the Coyotes so I guess you can fool Canada Geese but not ducks.

I wish there were sonic devices and decoys that could be used to combat the other annoyance that ruins a course and that is golfers who don’t repair pitch marks or replace divots.

Dave's avatar
Dave wrote at 2018-02-08 21:25:02+00:00:

Our course employs 3 dogs to scare off the geese. The dogs come once a week at a different time and day. The geese vacate the property after a couple visits, don't return. Plus for all you geese lovers, the dogs never catch the geese.

Kermit Boyer's avatar
Kermit Boyer wrote at 2018-02-08 21:04:11+00:00:

Our course has posted fox decoys around our pond. It hasn’t gotten rid of all but has reduced the number considerably. Also, I have heard that Swan decoys are a great help.

Chatham33's avatar
Chatham33 wrote at 2018-02-08 21:01:39+00:00:

The geese serve no purpose..not native to the areas that they foul...all they do is eat , procreate and make a mess...we don’t need them ...kudos to the Brits for having the common sense to get rid of them once and forever

Boo's avatar
Boo wrote at 2018-02-08 20:53:32+00:00:

Shoot them and clean them. Give the meat to a food bank.

Charles 's avatar
Charles wrote at 2018-02-08 20:43:02+00:00:

Put a rope around pond and geese want come out on greens.

S.Durand's avatar
S.Durand wrote at 2018-02-08 20:34:13+00:00:

Do I like having to watch where step to avoid the poop? Of course not. But I love these majestic looking birds and cannot in conscience condone killing them just because they make a mess.

Ed's avatar
Ed wrote at 2018-02-08 20:31:30+00:00:

Had a small pond & fired off Roman candles around them ever time they showed up & it took about 2 seasons for them to find another pond. . Don’t know if it would work on a big pond

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.