Golf courses are marked with hazards — lakes and streams, trees and bunkers — that golfers have enough trouble staying away from. However, at a golf club in Melbourne, Australia, which is the home to hordes of kangaroos, there’s another hazard roaming around the property, and it isn’t the native marsupials.
Mike Cherney of The Wall Street Journal traveled Down Under to take a look at a hazard most golfers would never even consider.
Playing for an eagle or birdie on the 16th hole at the Anglesea Golf Club near Melbourne, Bernie Dilger was confronted instead with a kangaroo.
He wasn’t worried about whacking the animal, which hopped across the course moments before he swung—kangaroos have lived on the course for years. Mr. Dilger’s main concern was harming a different, non-native species found on these fairways. Tourists, many from China, sometimes randomly wander onto the course to see the animals.
“It’s just one of those things that you have to be conscious of,” Mr. Dilger said. “We have to actually yell and warn them.”
Kangaroos hang out on many Australian golf courses, munching grass and lounging under trees. In 2013, a marsupial mob interrupted the Women’s Australian Open at a golf club in Canberra, Australia’s capital. Most golfers just play around them.
The real problem is the growing number of tourists from countries where the game isn’t as familiar.
At one point, “major tourist buses would pull up alongside the course,” said Les Cooper, a retired human-resources manager who used to be on the Anglesea club’s board, “and 50 people or more would just spill out, walk across the golf course, set up their picnic rugs.”
The Nelson Bay Golf Club northeast of Sydney hosts kangaroos and offers roo-watching tours, which helps keep tourists off the fairways. A few months ago, Phil Murray, who organizes the tours and goes by “Kangaroo Phil,” spotted a Norwegian family on the course, told them they could get hit by a ball and suggested they take a tour.