Recycled golf course

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That’s a lot of attitude! Is that common for a golf course?

I honestly wanted to like golf. I’d try it every decade or two but it just didn’t take. The whole thing seemed like a perfectly good waste of green space … until this past fall when I finally found a good use for a golf course.

As the sun was setting I came upon an elk herd that had taken over a fairway. I had likely seen many of these elk before including the bull. Typically they were grazing or wandering around. The bull was sometimes with them and he seemed nonchalant to the point of docile. Not today!

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I love that bugling sound. Can you hear it?

The bull was charging around like a beast obsessed even if it all seemed a bit random. There was fire in his eyes and some serious bugling coming off those big lips. This show I was watching was no casual game of golf!

Given my complete inability to grasp the finer beauty of golf, I could not help but compare the two uses of the golf course. Sensitive golf lovers be warned!

I could visualize our virtual golfer carefully lining up his shot and taking seven practice swings while his partner patiently waits. Meanwhile the bull elk is randomly charging up and down the fairway brazenly showing everyone why he is the star of this show.

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A little unkempt, but a fine-looking specimen. It was entirely consistent with his actions.


The golfer is nattily dressed to carefully meet the club’s dress code. The bull elk has tufts of grass and mud stuck to his antlers and he’s generally unkempt.

Our virtual golfer still hasn’t hit the ball as he frowns and studies nothing in particular. Of course everyone around him is carefully quiet lest his weak powers of concentration be disturbed. The silence is shattered when the bull tenses up his entire body and sends out mutliple bugle calls that can be heard over all 18 holes.

The golfer finally makes his shot that veers sharply off course. He smiles awkwardly and makes small talk with his partner. The bull elk scowls at no one in particular and glares in my direction. Thankfully I am a long distance away and particularly pleased I’m not standing between him and those fine-looking females.

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The young elk seemed particularly concerned when the bull was charging around and scattering them all over the fairway. It seemed like an odd approach to get what he wanted.

Our intrepid golfer muses about getting a little exercise as he takes a few tentative steps from the golf cart to the ball. Thankfully he brought a sweater in case it gets chilly. The bull is sweating from charging around and his taut muscles ripple with every movement.

The golfer hits another shot after making it back on the fairway, then bends over and carefully replaces the divet. The bull elk seems to be urinating all over the same fairway.

The golfer and his partner continue their game, politely following behind the little white balls they have sent bouncing down the course. The bull elk continues to randomly chase cows and send them scattering down the fairway and into the nearby bush. Every now and then he stops to bugle.

On second thot, golf is definitely more exciting.

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He really threw everything into his bugle.

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On the prowl.

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Latest Comments

  1. Marylin Warner says:

    These are the most vivid, real, wonderful pictures of a golf course I’ve ever seen! So much more compelling than golf carts and plaid pants, right?

    Like

  2. Scott Marshall says:

    Lyle as Scot and a golfer all I can say is I am shocked – the animals need some boundary’s 😉

    Like

  3. melodylowes says:

    Wow, Lyle – what a magnificent experience. Our neighbours raised elk for years and I used to love that bugling that announced the arrival of the fall season. Funny how that bull has bits of a carefully trimmed golf course hanging from his antlers! Some poor groundskeeper is weeping into his tea right about now….

    Like

  4. artsifrtsy says:

    I saw elk on the golf course at Estes Park right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park – they loved those fairways. They were just lying around until a golfer got close. Some amazing shots there. Beautiful beasts!

    Like

  5. babsje says:

    Fabulous post, Lyle!

    And speaking of photographers and elk, you might enjoy this one, where the photog and elk to head-to-head, literally:

    http://petapixel.com/2013/11/13/photographer-gets-tussle-elk-copious-amounts-headbutting-ensues/

    Like

  6. whatsnataliedoing says:

    Amazing photos. I really enjoyed looking at your blog. You have been in the right place at the right time more than once. How do you set up the blog so the photos go black when scrolled over? I like that so much more than a big watermark. Thanks, Natalie

    Like

  7. Phil Lanoue says:

    Tremendous shots of these magnificent animals, and lucky you, all we ever see on golf course around here are alligators. And sadly they don’t manage to drag off as many golfers as you might think (or hope).

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Just wait until the animals mobilize to storm the golf courses and reclaim them. Then your black humour scenes will come true. The followup movie will be wildly popular and controversial.

      Like

  8. Stefano says:

    Beautiful shots (I don’t mean of the golfing type…) Lyle. I love those of the bugling bull, partiularly the second to last one and the second one in the series. You don’t get to see many bugling elk on golf courses! 🙂

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I have not seen and heard enough bugling yet so it’s quite a novelty and so different from their normal behaviour. And now I’m thinking I could have worked in the double meaning of shots into the post. Thanks for the comments.

      Like

  9. Mary says:

    Fantastic photographs – you were meant to be in the perfect spot, once again!

    Like

  10. jane tims says:

    Hi. Great photos! When we were in Banff a few years ago, we saw an elk on the golf course there. Jane

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Thanks. Golf courses have a built-in attraction with that glorious grass buffet waiting for them. I think they are a regular customer at the Banff golf course. On our last trip there in fall we couldn’t find the elk and someone told us they were hanging around the golf course so we should have gone there sooner.

      Like

  11. Mike Powell says:

    It seems like one of the big advantages of a golf course is that you were able to get wonderful shots of the elks in the open, without having their bodies obscured by the underbrush. Your shots show the power of the male–he is clearly in charge and knows it.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Those open spaces are great. I had been trying to get shots that didn’t look like a golf course but after awhile I realized that wasn’t happening. It is a natural place for them especially since the golfers were long gone. A great place for the bull to strut around.

      Like

  12. Gunta says:

    The worst case of insanity of keeping up a golf course would be in the Arizona desert. The water, the chemicals… and no elk to pee on all that perfectly manicured grass.

    Like

  13. Karen Lilly says:

    “perfectly good waste of green space”. I think it’s a waste of perfectly good green space 🙂 #spoonerism

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I find it fun to play around with words so it’s inevitable I will slide in a few intentional spoonerisms like this one. Once a phrase starts with a superfluous word like perfectly the temptation to slip away from normal becomes even stronger. I suspect it is an acquired taste.

      Like

  14. Anarette.com says:

    These beautiful animals are so much better than playing golf….

    Like

  15. nliakos says:

    I enjoyed both the photographs and the visualization. 🙂

    Like

  16. sagescenery says:

    Love this post! We live on a golf course, so if I saw these beautiful animals playing “golf” I’d definitely freak out! Ha! As it is, I have to share our fairway with 16 resident alligators!!! Beautiful shots, Lyle!

    Like

  17. Seenorway says:

    So it’s possible to play without paying a ‘green fee’? Beautiful!

    Like

  18. caleephotography says:

    A sight like this probably the only thing that would get me on a golf course. Nice shots & story, Lyle! 😀

    Like

  19. vanbraman says:

    Golf is a good walk spoiled – Mark Twain
    I have not been on a golf course to play for a long time. I always liked the surroundings though. I really like the pictures of the Elk. Especially the first one.

    Like

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