Tee up with a furry friend at High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, North Carolina
By Bill Bauer
As a teenager, I lugged golf bags for a living. It was tough work carrying nearly half my body weight around a golf course, for weekend warriors slicing and hooking golf balls from tee to green. I vowed that someday I would play golf with a caddy, just to see what it felt like to have someone carry my bag and clubs, give advice and moral support, and make me aware of the best strategy to play the course. After hundreds of rounds of golf, I achieved that goal last year at the High Hampton Inn and Country Club (HHI), in Cashiers, North Carolina.
But it was not what I expected.
My caddy, whose name was Legend, carried my clubs with ease, no matter where I hit the ball. He was always there when I needed a tee, towel, club, or new ball. He knew the etiquette of golf, remaining away from the tee box and off the green, and for the most part was still, quiet and unassuming. Advice? Moral support? Strategy? Zip, zero, nada, or in translation, none! You see, Legend was a llama. Yes, the furry beast of burden better known for packing the wares of trekkers as opposed to clubs for golfers. Llama Caddy is the creation of Mark English, owner of a llama farm in nearby Brevard, who began his unique efforts at Sherwood Forest Golf Course in Cedar Mt., N.C., and has recently expanded the business to the HHI.
Every Thursday and Saturday, English loads his trailer with his llamas and takes them to the HHI where he feeds, waters, and allows them “do their business.” He says, “A well-fed, well-drained llama is a happy llama. They’ll eat some grass along the way, but once they’re fed, they’ll be good to go for 18 holes.” At the clubhouse, special racks with two golf bags are strapped to the llamas. English takes your clubs, balls, tees, and any other golf gear, and carefully distributes it evenly on each side of the llama. “They can easily carry the weight, but it needs to be balanced for a smooth trek.”
Once loaded, it’s off to the number one tee box, where along the way English introduces you and your golf group to your llama caddies. He shows everyone how to lead the animals around and stake them to the ground (although they rarely wander off) when hitting the ball. Being a decent golfer himself, English is the perfect “assistant” to the llamas. His knowledge of the game, and nuances of the HHI golf course provide what the llamas cannot. But he quips, “If they tap the ground with their hooves two times, you have the right club!”
From your first tee shot to your final putt, it is golf as usual—well, sort of. Carrying on a conversation with your llama is strictly one-sided, but Mark more than makes up for the animals’ silence. Golfing with a llama caddy can be relaxing, entertaining, and informational, as Mark not only assists your golf game, but also provides you with as much llama knowledge as you want.
“I love the animals so much because they are calm and relaxed. They’re perfect for the sport,” claims English. They’re great animals and don’t care if you’re good or bad!”
I have yet to see a course—designed be me or others—”
Golfing with the llamas has only made this more evident.
Contact the High Hampton Inn this spring for a unique golfing experience—one that you will not forget. Special mountain golf stay and play packages are available as are daily tee times. Call 800-334-2551 for further information on golf and all the HHI has to offer. Or check out the HHI website at www.highhamptoninn.com.
– Photos courtesy Bill Bauer
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