I’ve been going through a rough stretch with my golf swing lately and have developed a bad case of the S-word (rhymes with hanks). The opportunity came up to visit Sherwood Forest and play with a llama caddie, something I had never done before. And, with only a few holes longer than 150 yards, it was a great chance to get rid of bad habits and the S-thing.
Not far off the beaten path in Brevard, NC you’ll find an 18-hole, par 3 golf course with a unique twist. The Sherwood Forest Golf Course is an Audubon Sanctuary development located 9 miles south of Brevard, in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. Sherwood Forest is open to the public year-round and golfers of all ages and abilities are welcome. Tee times are not required. Sherwood Forest is all about having fun and, according to the guy in charge, PGA pro Brian Lautenschlager, if you’re not having fun out here, there’s something wrong. The course is fun and challenging for golfers of all ages and skill levels. But the real draw is the llamas!
It’s an interesting story about how the llama caddies came to be. Several years ago, the owner of a nearby llama farm, Mark English, dropped by Sherwood Forest with notions of fulfilling a dream. It seems that as a 5th grader, English did some caddying, often carrying two heavy golf bags on a hot summer day. As he was walking down the fairway one day, he dreamed about what it would be like to have a llama carry the bags instead. English isn’t sure why he chose llamas; it may have come from seeing a similar Dr Seuss creature. He swears it has nothing to do with hallucinogenics.
At the time Lautenschlager thought English was a little bit out there but decided to give it a try. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He allowed him to bring his five llamas to the course for caddie training. Soon, cars were pulling over on the highway to snap pictures for photo ops, and the endeavor even pulled in local TV media. A light bulb appeared above Lautenschlager’s head: the club was struggling, and the media is definitely interested. Since that time, the two have formed a bond that keeps everyone, especially passerby happy!
My llama was named Lightning, a gal who certainly did not live up to her name. She finished dead last in the post-round llama race, held on the 10th fairway.
I read somewhere that llamas spit for several reasons. Females spit to show certain males they’re not interested. Glad the girls in school didn’t do that; I’d have needed a bigger wardrobe. Older males will spit at younger males to show who’s boss. Both genders spit to keep aggressors away from food. I think Lightning spits at bad golf.
Number one started out OK; I only s-worded one off the tee but luckily, Lightning was too busy enjoying a delicious clump of grass just off the tee box. Who needs mowers! Brian was nearby and I asked him for a quick tip. He had me hit another ball, to gauge what I was doing wrong. As luck would have it, I hit it dead solid perfect and almost put it in the hole. He claimed his job was done and apparently Lightning agreed. Brian headed back to get another group started and Lightning, Belinda and I started off on our memorable journey.
By the 3rd hole, my disease had resurfaced, golf balls flying off to the right with a vengeance. I could sense Lightning was starting to get perturbed and she headed over with my wife Belinda to look for my errant shots. I was losing them faster than they could find them.
As we made the turn, I could see the saliva starting to build around Lightning’s lips, she was obviously getting worn out from being led into bushes to shag golf balls. A few holes later, my ailment seemed to be going into a quiet remission and Lightning’s lips were once again saliva-free, but it didn’t last long. As we finished the round and headed back to the clubhouse and her trailer, she had enough and just let it rip as if to say, “Take a lesson.” Luckily, I still had enough energy to escape the stream. I patted her woolly head and we amicably parted ways. At least I did.
The first nine holes at Sherwood Forest run along the Little River valley; on several holes you can hear the soothing sounds of flowing water. The back nine meanders through scenic woods and is a little more challenging. Sherwood Forest can be enjoyed several ways; it’s short, fairly flat and easy to walk, with or without a pull cart. Electric cars are also available, but I highly recommend a llama caddie. Besides caddying, these llamas are in high demand by children’s and special needs camps. For reservations and information concerning llama caddies, please give Brian a call.
There’s nothing special about the facility. The clubhouse door squeaks when you open it and hasn’t been oiled in years. The equipment for sale inside is in no particular order, although Brian will disagree. Unless you have a rangefinder, yardages are a “best guess” and the greens might not register on a Stimpmeter. Jeans, cutoffs and wife-beater shirts are welcome. Rates are $10 for 9 holes, $15 for 18 holes or $25 for as many holes as you care to play. I’ve heard the record is right around 100 holes in a day. There seems to be no limit as to how many golfers can play in one group, consequently, play can be slow. In spite of all of this, the regulars continue to return, day after day, year after year, even decade after decade.
Sherwood Forest is sure to challenge golfers of all skill levels. With small, undulating greens, it’s a great place for skilled golfers to work on their short game and approach shots. The course can be played in less than three hours and is a great way for the entire family to get some exercise and enjoy each other’s company. Just try not to make the llamas spit.
Sherwood Forest also offers custom club repair shop and PGA Professional Brian Lautenschlager is also available for both private and group lessons. By the way, Brian did give me some very valuable information and a couple of drills to get rid of my woes and I’m happy to say that what he told me has worked wonders! If he can cure the problem I had, he is sure to be able to make you a better golfer. Thanks Brian!
To book your next round at Sherwood Forest with a llama caddie, contact Brian Lautenschlager at (828) 884-7825. You can also get more information on their website, www.sherwoodforestncgolf.com.