s Pelican Hill Golf Club’s director of golf maintenance, Steve Thomas, raked a greenside bunker early one day, he heard a rustling in the bushes and glanced up just in time to see a bobcat leaping to nab a coot, a jet-black duck known to damage Southern California’s golf course greens. “I watched it play out right in front of me,” says Thomas. “My guys who maintain that hole say they see it every morning.”
Such is the circle of life that is part and parcel of the 500 acres that constitute The Resort at Pelican Hill.®
Long before the first five iron swept across this fertile land, bobcats, deer, rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks, ducks, egrets, blue cranes, pelicans, rabbits, squirrels, barn owls, raccoons and skunks called it home.
“Many of our four-legged residents live in the canyons; we see them around the 18th tee box of the South Course and in the big canyon between holes 5, 6 and 7 on the North Course,” says Thomas, who’s gotten to know the Pelican Hill® animal kingdom well during his 15 years at the Resort. “The animals typically shy away from developed areas and prefer to inhabit the more buffered zones between our two courses. Whenever there are sirens nearby, we can hear them howling in the canyons.”
By design, Thomas explains, the Golf Club maintenance staff does not tamper with native species. “We’re respectful and sensitive to these creatures and their habitats. The native plants get their irrigation from rainfall and not from sprinklers, we don’t fertilize or trim, and we perform tree work only as needed.”
Occasionally, golfers will spot the animals meandering near the courses. Thomas advises against approaching or trying to feed them, or getting close enough to take photos. He also suggests that Resort guests avoid walking the courses at night, especially with small dogs in tow. “Bobcats are pretty skittish anyway,” he says. “They take off real quick. But, as with most wildlife, if you encounter an animal, you want to make yourself large. Clap your hands and yell and they’ll run off. Given a choice, they prefer to stay away from us, too.”
The fact that these animals still reside in the canyons of Pelican Hill is a testament to the care that was taken in designing the Resort’s structures and golf courses to mesh with the environment. By catching glimpses of these beautiful animals, Pelican Hill guests, golfers and visitors are lucky enough to appreciate the comfort of the creatures while indulging in creature comforts of their own.
“Those bobcats forage for food early every morning and end up keeping the coot population down and the greens pristine,” says Thomas. “It’s all part of the food chain, and we’re grateful for the help.”