Before there were golf carts near the greens, there was livestock roaming the early golf courses at the birthplace of the game in Scotland. Now, golfers in Middle Tennessee are soaking up that history by teeing off amongst a herd.
The rolling, green hills and herd of sheep at Hermitage Golf Course look straight out of a travel ad for the Scotland. While the grazing sheep don't maintain the greens these days, their ancestors were original architects of golf courses as we know them today.
"They would hunker down in the bad weather, and that is kind of where the berms and the bunkers and stuff like that kind of developed. They actually carved out the landscape and the bunkers in the early days," said owner Mike Eller.
Reminiscent of the 15th century, 12 ewes and a ram roam a fenced area on what Golf Digest calls one of the Top 10 courses in Tennessee. And the idea for this addition actually came from one of the top courses in the United States.
"Two years ago I was up at Whistling Straits that hosted the PGA Championship, and I'm walking down 13th fairway and hear all of these bells behind me. And here come the sheep following me down the fairway, and I thought, 'this is awesome,'" Eller said.
The sheep at Hermitage, and their herding dog, Miss Bonnie, are actually more an attraction rather than a distraction. But to some, they might even be a good luck charm.
"It was just fun to watch them, and the dog was magnificent," said golfer Ron Wincek. "And I hit my best shot in the green after the dog, so it was good."
The Hermitage Golf Course has two courses. The black-faced Scottish sheep roam on the President's Reserve Course.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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