Drizzle, the border collie purchased from Flyaway Geese by The Club at Longview in Waxhaw, N.C., is fitting in nicely there, says GCSAA Class A superintendent Barry Rewis. Photos courtesy of Barry Rewis
Drizzle has made a splash.
The Club at Longview hasn’t been the same since Drizzle, a border collie, arrived in October. “She has made a difference so far,” says Barry Rewis, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at the Waxhaw, N.C., facility.
Drizzle came aboard with a focus: Address a geese problem. Rewis’ club purchased Drizzle from Flyaway Geese, a company that trains border collies to eliminate the nuisance created by geese and other wildlife in an effective and humane manner. The dogs’ services are enlisted at colleges and universities, private estates, assisted living communities, golf courses, and more.
Thinking about a border collie for your golf course? Stop by the Flyaway Geese booth (No. 1020) at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio to register for a chance to win a fully trained one. In fact, two Flyaway Geese border collies will be given away, a prize made possible by a partnership between Flyaway Geese, LebanonTurf and GCMOnline.com.
There will also be four live demonstrations with border collies on the green of the Inside the Ropes stage during GIS:
Flocking Geese: Goose Biology, What You Need to Know
Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 9:45 a.m.
Duck Duck Goosedog: Fun Games to Keep Your Goosedog in Top Shape
Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m.
Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe: How to Pick a Goosedog
Thursday, Feb. 8 at 11 a.m.
Get Your Sit Together: Obedience and How to Do It Right
Thursday, Feb. 8 at 3:30 p.m.
“I’m super excited about it. It should be quite the party in our booth,” says Rebecca Gibson, who got this party started when she launched Flyaway Geese in 1997. After years of sheep dog trialing, Gibson began to train border collies for goose and wildlife management.
Drizzle dashing about The Club at Longview.
“They (border collies) are predators that have no interest in harming the bird, but can control what, how and where it works,” she says.
The first golf course superintendent to take on one of Gibson’s border collies from Flyaway Geese was George Thompson, who spent 19 years at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst. Gibson had been warned that it might take some doing to persuade Thompson, but that it could benefit her in the long run.
“Everybody said, ‘If you convince George Thompson to buy a dog, everybody would buy one,’” Gibson recalls. “I reached out to George, and he told me, ‘I don’t know if it will work. Until you can convince me it’s going to work, I’m not going to buy one.’”
Over a two-week period, Gibson brought dogs to Thompson’s course for trials. That’s all it took. “He wanted to buy my demo dog. He said, ‘I’ve got the checkbook — I don’t care what the price is,’” Gibson says. Thompson ended up buying one of her other dogs, Cody. “Once I sold one to George, it opened up the door with superintendents in North Carolina, and it led us to having dogs at airports and an Air Force base,” Gibson says.
Gibson, a certified wildlife damage control agent for the state of North Carolina, estimates that 150 to 200 superintendents have or have had one of her dogs, covering as many as 45 states. Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., is one of them. Mark Kuhns, CGCS, the director of grounds and a 37-year GCSAA member, has had multiple dogs provided by Gibson, the most recent being Flo.
“We’re in the Atlantic Flyway, the I-95 corridor to Canada, the main flight pattern for geese. She’s been chasing geese like crazy,” Kuhns says of Flo. “There’s no nesting geese on the property now. The dog keeps them up in the air, and the dog even has the geese trained ... when they see that dog coming in the cart. She’s fantastic.” (It sure beats bringing large snow shovels onto fairways to remove droppings. “That could get pretty ugly,” Kuhns says.)
Rewis, meanwhile, tried alternatives such as bird bangers (a bird-scaring device) and lasers, but wasn’t completely satisfied with them. As for Drizzle, she’s showing the promise the 19-year GCSAA member wants to see. “She’s like one of the crew, part of the staff,” Rewis says.
Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.