ARARAT - Some golfers could be forgiven for thinking someone was playing a practical joke on them at the Chalambar Golf Club recently.
It is a frightening sight to stumble across a snake when you are out for a leisurely game of golf, but Chalambar Golf Club manager Tim Cronin warns the rubber props are harmless and are in fact placed on the greens around the course for a purpose.
"The snakes are part of a number of different strategies we are trying to stop the cockies from digging up the greens," Mr Cronin said.
"We've also got moth balls and gas guns going off trying to scare them away, because they are ripping up the greens for no apparent reason I actually don't think they even eat the grass."
While Chalambar is a picturesque course to enjoy a round of golf, with kangaroos, native birds and even echidnas spotted at various holes, the pesky cockatoos are an unwelcome guest.
Mr Cronin said the toy snakes may have worked initially, but the birds have now worked out that they are fake.
"I don't know how effective the snakes have been, I think some of the cockies are actually picking them up and throwing them around," he said.
"We've tried a number of things. We even had kites in the trees to look like eagles to try and scare them off, but like anything they get used to it and then we have to come up with something new."
While the cockatoos may be aware that the snakes are just rubber, Mr Cronin said some golfers have been tricked.
"One visitor came across the snake on the first hole and called the clubhouse, then he called again after he'd spotted one on the third and by the time he got to the fourth he called and said 'I'm starting to think these snakes might not be real!'," Mr Cronin said with a laugh.
"Most of the members realise what it is all about."
The wildlife isn't the only thing that is keeping the Chalambar Golf Club's groundsmen busy this summer.
Mr Cronin said the recent heat wave kept staff busy as they worked hard to keep the course looking pristine.
"We struggled a little bit with the heat," he said.
"We poured water on each night because we obviously have a fairly good supply of treated water, but it is the sort of grass that does brown off.
"It is fairly drought tolerant, so just because it is brown doesn't mean it isn't in good condition.
"Particularly around the big pine trees, they suck a bit out of the ground compared to the gum trees which have deeper roots, so it is a bit brown in areas but over all I think we're still looking pretty good."