Buffalo Power

by Ann Tsang / Images: Images courtesy of Laguna Golf Lăng Cô

Buffalo power has reaped a record rice harvest at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô with a 28-ton haul helping to feed members of local community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Located within the greater Laguna Lăng Cô integrated resort lays the Laguna Golf Lăng Cô, an 18-hole, par-71 championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo. This award-winning course delivers a golfing experience that can be enjoyed by the most experienced players and beginners alike. The course presents variety for players of all levels measuring just under 7,100 yards from the championship tees and a beginner friendly 5,263 yards from the front tees.

In keeping with its links-like characteristics, the Lăng Cô layout also offers a traditional out-and-back routing, presenting a host of varied shot opportunities along the way. As strategic as it is enjoyable, the Laguna Golf Lăng Cô will certainly leave golfers with a unique sense of place in the rustic
hinterland destination.

Last winter, Laguna Golf Lăng Cô’s world famous family of water buffalo greenskeepers helped the club to reap a record rice harvest: the fruits of which are going towards feeding members of the local community in Central Vietnam.

The bovine brood has been bolstered by the birth of Lulu, a new baby daughter, who joins fellow recent arrival Luna, eldest calf Bao and father and mother Tu Phat and Chi Chi in the workforce. 

These extra sets of hooves have dramatically boosted productivity with the club gathering 28 tons of rice from the seven-hectares of fields right in the middle of the course layout — a record harvest-time haul.

The buffalo “bio-mowers” have been vital in helping to maintain the elevated status of the layout, which winds its way through tropical jungle, ocean sand dunes and ancient rice paddies that led to the course being ranked as the best in Vietnam at the 2019 Vietnam Golf Awards.

The buffalo help to manage the seven-hectares of rice fields located right in the middle of the course by eating excess weeds and crops while tilling the soil in the area that would otherwise require machinery and additional manpower to maintain.

However the rice fields are not just for show. Harvested twice a year, they have previously yielded up to 20 tons of rice that are used to support the organic farm at Laguna Lăng Cô and donated to families and seniors in the area who are
in need. 

Last winter’s record haul, however, surpassed previous harvests by some way. Additionally, the bumper crop could not have come at a more timely juncture, with Vietnam’s economy taking a hit on tourism as the country’s international borders remain closed to combat the spread of the global pandemic. 

“The communities that have limited economic means have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn that has resulted from the pandemic,” notes Adam Calver, Director of Golf at Laguna Lăng Cô. “The fact that we were able to donate even more rice to locals who need it most this year was a really positive outcome for our edible golf course.”

The utilisation of water buffalo as greenkeepers is part of a wider push by Laguna Golf Lăng Cô to be the most sustainable course in Vietnam. It has completely eradicated the use of single-use plastics in almost all aspects of its operations, scrapping items made of plastic such as on-course garbage bags, locker room accessories, plastic cups and straws, and replacing them with ones made from materials such as bamboo, paper, steel or natural grass. 

“Doing good is not an extra; it must be the rules of business”, says Claire Chiang, the Banyan Tree Global Foundation’s Chairperson. Laguna Lăng Cô, part of the Banyan Tree Group, is committed to being a leader of sustainability in Vietnam’s hospitality industry. “This is both our ambition and a fundamental part of our core values. For us, it is not just a responsibility, but also a privilege and opportunity to embrace our environment and support local communities.”

Laguna Lăng Cô Resort recently completed the installation of its own water bottling plant to allow the resort to completely eliminate plastic water bottles and utilise reusable glass bottles.

The club is also one of only three golf courses in the world to achieve EarthCheck Gold certification, a status it earned at the end of 2019.

“Since we introduced the buffalo we have seen a number of birds such as egrets, moving in as they feast on the insects as the buffalo till the soil. We are currently building a new home for our family of ducks which will soon be used as part of our Integrated Rice-Duck Farming Programme” adds Calver.

“Continually mowing the fields to maintain vast rice terraces can consume a large amount of labour and fuel. The water buffalo act as bio-mowers and help us protect the natural feel of the landscape; they give a true sense of place.”

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