Despite having a Dog Golf Instagram account (@dogggolfing), we’re not really that active on it (as our solitary post would testify). But I do enjoy perusing Instagram when I’ve got a bit of time to kill and I must tip my hat to their algorithm as it serves me up mostly puppies and other dog clips (with occasion cats). But one grammer I actually subscribe to is the ingenious JauncyDev who caricatures various dog breeds in assorted human situations. Last week, JauncyDev depicted how different dogs would be if they weren’t just accompanying their human, but actually were doing the golfing. Enjoy!
Our latest guest post from Bertie (and his persons Steve and Mrs. Brown) not only provides another pooch perspective on par play, but also highlights the imperative to “keep asking”. While Dog Golf UK tries to keep its database up-to-date, my experience has been that policies change from time to time. Usually this shift has been the unfortunate case of being informed that a course doesn’t welcome dogs after all despite someone telling me previously that they did (I document all my calls to clubs who tell me they allow dogs). In the case of today’s Sedbergh, the report is a fortunate addition to the database. When I had contacted Sedburgh previously, they said that dogs were not allowed,. But when Bertie did a round and I double checked, they were hesitant but in the end said that people did bring their dogs on the low periods of Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Thanks to Bertie for not just another review, but also another course for people to check out:
Another weekend away with friends who have a place at Barnard Castle, and we needed a course we could play and have lunch. We settled on Sedbergh and what a gem of a course. Nine holes (18 tees) and it is immaculate.
Some very tricky holes, with drives over river gorges, water features and some tricky undulating ground. This is a course that no one will take apart.
Its £15 for 9 holes and having a dog is not a problem. The owner is on site and very welcoming, his son is the greenskeeper. There is a fabulous clubhouse, more of that later.
The first hole is tricky with hole protected by bunkers, unseen, the second a drive across the river onto a green. Then a short walk takes you to the third well over 500 yards and you can see a Victorian iron railway bridge behind the green. It is a very picturesque course.
You have great views of the Yorkshire dale. Another par 5 has the green protected by a ring of water. Eventually we arrive at the 9th. A green you feel you can reach. On our visit there were two societies starting off on our return.
Dogs are not allowed in the clubhouse but they serve one of the best steak and ale pies this northern lad has ever had on the verandah. Mrs. Browns’ fish pie was also excellent.
What of Bertie our Tibetan Terrier, after all this is about golfing with dogs. I think Bertie has decided that golf balls are not worth chasing. He allows us to play our shots, and whereas once he had to have his own ball he isn’t interested now. We do use a lead to tie him up when teeing off and putting wherever possible. We have a long lead and he now trots happily alongside us, we do stand on the lead if we need to do so. He still won’t sit and look at the camera for the killer photo!
The big problem I have is not controlling a dog while playing, but the fact Mrs. Brown is obviously already a better golfer than me and the gap is only getting wider!
Welcome – We had a bit of a sad welcome to Four Marks, but it was nothing to do with the course itself. We had long planned a foray further south with the distance justified by seeing our fellow dog golfing friends, the Baileys. Initially intended as a reunion for Grace and Pepper, with at Grace’s departure it pivoted into an anticipated soothing dose of doggie-ness from Pepper to help our grief. But when we arrived, the Bailey’s told us that Pepper too had passed away just a few days ago from a sudden seizure. As a result, the session became a memorial round to our two beloved companions. I wore my Rhoback dog golf shirt (see above) as I had to step in as the face of Dog Golf UK for the day. The course is undergoing a bit of a refurb at the moment, but nonetheless, it is a bit of a casual aesthetic typical of such parkland courses. But always makes dog accompanying players a bit more relaxed about how fellow golfers feel about canine caddis.
Walk – The course is laid out in a tidy and fairly compact 9-hole course at only 1960 yards. Being flat it was a very easy step back onto the links after an extended time away after losing Grace (and my hip giving me a bit of gip). The exception to the flatness was the greens who seemed to all be perched on near vertical precipices. The course play, like our old girl Grace, was a bit rough, bumpy and motley.
Water – The course has small artificial ponds near holes 1, 4 and 7, but they (like many other parts of the course) were under repair so completed dried out (actually, without being spring or stream fed, most small artificial ponds of this type don’t make for good drinking as they get quite stagnant even if they do have water). Still, with such a small course, you are never very far from the clubhouse if you need to retreat there to get a drink.
Wildlife – Lots of sheep and cows in the surrounding fields, but not too many critters crossing the fairways.
Wind Down – The clubhouse itself had a lovely dining area which, as you can see from the sign below, certainly welcomed dogs. But we opted for the intriguingly named “Castle of Comfort” pub just down the road. Several very friendly dogs in the bar area greeted us. One of the simplest menus with an assortment of nicely grilled meats (with some excellent cheesy chips). So plenty of opportunities for scraps for your fellow dining dogs. In fact, the proprietor is also a butcher so you can ask him for some extra bones or scraps that he might have out back.
With the loss of Grace, we blessed to have another report from Bertie to keep the dog golf reconnaissance coming in
Having added a couple of days leave onto the platinum jubilee we thought we would entertain Bertie with another 9 holes. This time we put the doggolf.info website to test. We looked up the database of dog friendly clubs, selected Lancashire (a very small offering from Lancashire!) and the nearest to us was Poulton-le-Fylde golf club.
A quick email to confirm dogs were welcome got an instant response confirming they were and that members regularly brought their dogs with them.
It’s a nine hole course with a large clubhouse and a very nice veranda with a view onto the course. On arrival we paid at the bar, £10 each, and on the veranda was a member with a dog!
It was busy and we had managed to get the last available tee time, there were lots of people around the first tee. Poulton-le-Fylde golf club has the tag line “the friendliest golf club on the Fylde coast” and this was certainly true. Everyone wanted to be introduced to Bertie so there was a crowd when we teed off. Thankfully they both went down the middle!
It’s also a parklands course with a very relaxed atmosphere.
We now have a better understanding of how we control Bertie, we have bought a lead we can tie to posts when putting and driving, we have also developed an understanding of who should hold the lead and when. Bertie seems to be getting used to golf as well, he used to manically chase a ball and i had set aside an old ball for him but he never once chased a ball today.
Today DogGolf says a very sad farewell to its biggest inspiration, its premiere pioneer, its world record-holding practitioner, the literal face of DogGolf – Grace. Her final round was our visit to Cranleigh which notched up her world-leading 86 courses walked.
When we had to say goodbye to Rusty a bit over a year ago, her alter ego Grace kept the vizsla spirit of boundless enthusiasm and affection alive in our home. In recent weeks, Grace’s leg (which had always been a bit wonky) deteriorated from suspected tumors that had slowly riddled her body and she could barely walk on it. Today, she joined Rusty for an eternal romp together.
Grace was the face of www.DogGolfUK.com and one of its most illustrious exemplars. She holds the world record for the most golf course traversed by a dog (the last one being Cranleigh on 26th March). She astounded fellow players with her uncanny ability to sniff out your stray ball in the rough (and got a bit disappointed in the improvement in Lori’s and my games which led to fewer opportunities to play this side game for treats). When we posted notice of her departure on Facebook, one of our golfing friends commented, “I’d heard about her golf ball finding ability and seeing it in action was just remarkable.”
Grace was the most steadfast and poised dog we have ever known. She would be unflappable in the face of over-enthusiastic children, as well as both annoying puppies and aggressive dogs (she was always little Rusty’s vigilant defender).
She did live her best life. Cuddling with Lori in the bed and couch in the morning, walking the Buckinghamshire countryside (and golf courses), getting the best morsels of bonus food, and being by our side.
And other delightful account from the roving northern Dog Golf correspondent team of Bertie and Steve:
Having visited the highest and oldest nine hole golf courses on this holiday we then played Alnwick Castle. This would be easier for controlling Bertie as we were joined by the youngest daughter. On arrival went in to pay, told the lady the secretary had said we could bring a dog, she didn’t bat an eyelid “no problem”.
Now Alnwick Castle is a real 18 hole course, and it is a club that is on the up. I understand the Duke of Northumberland owns the land. While we were there work had started on a new club house and there will also be a number of expensive properties built on the outer edge of the course.
It is £15 a round and a small charge for trolleys and the current clubhouse is next to one and eighteen so nine if furthest from the clubhouse, this will change as the new clubhouse is right in the middle of the course.
The day we went there was a seniors competition on and none of these even noticed the dog. Mrs B parred a short par 3, well done her. Couple of seniors saw her drive the ball straight onto the green and then me shank it wide left onto their tee. They were still waiting to play as we arrived and the old fellas just gave me that pitying look as i was clearly being outclassed. One whispered “My wife does that when i play with her as well”!
The course opens up into an open parkland course with good views of the surrounding countryside. There are some steep climbs but overall it was in excellent condition. There were lots of ground staff knocking about and they all waved and said hello as wed passed with Bertie.
On returning to the clubhouse for a drink the bar staff insisted that Bertie be served first taking a bowl of water out to him before we could even order ours!
It is a good course and the addition of a new clubhouse will really enhance the experience, we speculated about buying one of the houses should our lottery numbers come in.
Bertie (and Steve) provides another first-hand report on a Northumberland course while Grace relaxes in the backyard for a well-deserved break and a bit of recuperation:
Alnmouth Village Golf Club is the reason why we took up golf. When Bertie was a puppy we stayed in Alnmouth and Bertie loved the beach so much we have been back a few times. There is a magnificent nine hole course between the village and the beach, it really is stunning. We always said it would be great to play the course hence we started golf lessons and this was the first time we would actually play the course instead of just walking the dog on it!
We played twice, once just us and then with another couple who came to stay for a couple of days, they have a Jack Russell. Alnmouth must be the most dog friendly place in Britain, dogs are welcome everywhere.
The clubhouse has lots of picnic tables and dogs are welcome inside as well. They do the whole range from bacon butties to Sunday lunch. It’s incredibly friendly and £15 for nine holes. Trolleys, just help yourself and put them back afterwards.
The course is flat apart from one hole, the sixth. You drive up onto the plateau onto another fairway with a short iron shot onto the most elevated green, it’s a short sharp incline and its a blind shot requiring you to ring the bell for the next group to play.
The next tee gives you amazing panoramic views of the course and Northumbrian shore. It’s a quite satisfying tee shot as you see your ball fall downwards onto the fairway below. It’s a typical links course and if your ball disappears into the rough don’t bother looking for it!!!
Members are so used to dogs, as we played and crossed other parties they would wave ask if we were on holiday and pass on tips for the next hole. On one occasion we were just walking Bertie on the path alongside the course watching others play. Bertie spotted a ball on the fairway and ran to retrieve it with two mortified owners running after him. The four ball just fell about laughing while the owner of the ball just complained that Bertie could have dropped it nearer the hole.
Alnmouth Village Golf Club is England’s oldest nine hole course and remains an enduring course to play you are ever anywhere near.
I am sad to report that Grace might just be entering dog golfing retirement as she is suffering from a lame right-rear leg making it very difficult to walk. The debilitation has slowed her down and is combined with some other indications that she is simply becoming a very old girl (14 years old in a few weeks). I am happy to report that one of Dog Golf UK’s supporters, Bertie (and his person, Steve Brown, unofficial “northern correspondent”) has stepped up to share a number of guest posts from their recent Northumbria golf tour. Thanks Bertie (and Steve)!
Alston Moor Golf Club – The highest golf course in England. Bertie, our Tibetan terrier is two and a half years old. Having a dog changes a lot of what you and where you go on holiday. We have now gone to the same Northumbria cottage three times since we got Bertie. During that time we have also started playing golf, so whereas the three hour drive from Lancashire to the cottage would have been broken up with a quick stroll along Hadrians Wall we now look for golf courses!
So Alston Moor Golf Club fitted that description perfectly. It is a remote course with wonderful views of the North Pennine moors. I had emailed the club secretary who made it clear Bertie would be welcome. It was £15, which is outstanding value.
On arrival we were welcomed by the secretary and as the weather was bad we had the golf course to ourselves. The course has ten greens, nine holes with eighteen tees. The course was in really good condition with some tricky holes. The course also had two defibrillators, it is a steep climb back towards the clubhouse! The clubhouse was closed while we were there so plan to not have access to standard facilities.
We saw deer just yards from the course and bertie had a great time.
What did we learn about dog golfing? If you hook him up to the trolley he pulls it over. And, we need a second lead to attach him to benches etc while we tee off. Eventually we gave in and gave him his own golf ball.
Alston Moor will definitely be visited again on our journeys north.
Today DogGolf.info features an exclusive piece by international dog golfing advocate in the Netherlands, Linda Van Borssum. I stumbled upon her Facebook page “Golfen Met Hond”. It included lots of lovely posts about her fairway adventures with her two pups as well as great references to other dog friendly courses on the continent and even several shout outs to DogGolf.info. She kindly shared her dog golfing story with us:
I have been playing golf for a while. Mostly 9 holes because I have 2 dogs and I don’t want to leave them at home alone for too long.
Then one day…..
I saw an advertisement of The Dunes; a golf course in Zandvoort, the Netherlands. They were organizing a golf fair and invited people to join. So I asked my golfing friend and her husband in the Facebook comments where the event was being advertised:
- Me: “Hey Simone, this looks nice, shall we go?”
- Simone: “I think that would be fun. But what about the dogs?” (we both have dogs and Zandvoort is a 4 hour drive for us).
- Nigel (owner of the Dunes)“Just take the dogs with you!”
- Me: “No way, is that possible? I have never seen a dog on a golf course.
- Nigel: “Yes, off course that’s possible. It’s also common here to go for a round of golf with your best friend/your dog”
What a great idea. We often play golf on different courses in the Netherlands and when we are on holidays abroad. But when we take the dogs with us on holiday, we thought that playing golf would not be possible. This Dunes opportunity is something we want to try.
So off we went to Zandvoort, the four off us, with our dogs. Especially my dog Brigges (the black one, a Rottweiler, 5 years old) thought this was a great idea. First off all he likes to come along wherever we go. He likes to exercise. And he likes to do chores. And soon we noticed: he likes to run after the ball. (but he is a bit too strong to just run off, so bad idea!) He has to wait first and can only start walking when we tell him to. Then he looks for the ball and points to it with his nose; not touching it, because that is, of course, not allowed. He is also not allowed to come on the green so he has to wait a while. Otherwise, we are afraid he would leave pitchmarks with his nails. And we haven’t been able to train him on reparing pitchmarks.
It took some practicing. But Brigges loves to practice and to find the ball. He is very proud when he does. And he finds a lot of balls (even ones we didn’t hit ). He also likes the Ping-sound of the driver. In fact so do we, when its sound like a good hit . Dabbert (The red dog, a Boulab, 3 years old)) just likes to walk and watch. He doesn’t care so much to do the exercises and listening is not his cup of tea. But he likes the walk and the company. They both don’t care so much for other dogs or people on the course. But once we saw a herd of deer running across hole 3 at the Ullerberg, Ermelo. They liked that a bit too much. But we always have them on the leash on the course. Just for these kinds of moments!
Anyway; dogs enthusiastic, we enthusiastic. We wanted more. But it turns out: not everyone is enthusiastic about dogs on the course in the Netherlands. You get a lot of comments from people who think this is a really bad idea. “I don’t take my cat or my bird in the cage either, so leave them dogs at home! What’s next? What if he gets a ball on his head? Dogs don’t belong on the golf course. What will he do when I yell Fore?” etc.
Well, here’s a tip. You can train your dog for FORE. And you can train your dog for a lot more. Sometimes better than people, I guess. Ever noticed when someone yells FORE a lot of people look up to see where the FORE-ball is coming from?
Anyway, I asked our dog-trainer to come up with a few exercises to train the dogs for a nice walk on the course. Sit and wait even when strange things are moving before you, is always a good exercise!
And when you try this golfing with dogs; not to forget; bring enough water and some snacks for your hairy friend. A lot of courses welcome your dogs but most restaurants don’t.
My dogs are strong enough to walk all day. And they don’t care about hills or rough fields. But they don’t like it when it’s too hot. And I always carry poopbags. Just in case. But I walk the dogs before we go golfing.
I got more and more excited and wanted to check what more I could find. Where I could bring my dogs to the golf course. It opens new opportunities for vacations for example. I checked in England, Scotland, Germany, France and it’s all perfectly normal to walk with your dog there. Even St Andrews is dog friendly. After a bit off digging, I found out that there are also a number of golf courses who are dog-friendly in the Netherlands. Then I thought; maybe there are other dog owners who want this too so I have created a Facebook page: Golfen met hond (the page is in Dutch). Through the page, I found that a lot of people want to take their dog(s) with them so I made a list and put it on Facebook and I got a lot of tips from people to make the list even longer and longer.
Some courses reacted because they got completely excited. It resulted in competitions for “dogs and owners”, the first one in the Netherlands. Of course, at The Dunes. I wonder if it was the first one ever? I hope to organize another contest this year in September.
What I like about this, is that all of a sudden, I am in contact with people in and out of the Netherlands. People who want to take their dog on vacation and want to play some golf.
And that’s how I became the lady with the golfing dogs .
Welcome – Cranleigh isn’t just dog-friendly, but family-friendly. When we arrived, a number of small children were enjoying lunch on the clubhouse terrace. It wasn’t long into the round that we encountered our first fellow dog-golfer. He was accompanied by a wired-haired Vizsla cross (actually Grace is from a wired-haired litter, but came out smooth coated) named “Buda” (as in the Hungarian capital, Budapest – see photo directly below). Her person informed us that he mum and sister were also on the course that day. Our enquiry about the dog protocol told us that dogs were allowed under control so Grace got to amble beside us with a bit more freedom, but shortly into the round, a golfer came up to inform us that the rule was now “lead required” (so Grace go harnessed up for the rest of the round and I have updated the database).
Walk – At first blush we thought the course would seem shorter at a more modest 5644 yards and only a few inclines to climb, but many of the holes seemed quite long. The layout was a bit disorienting for the unfamiliar. The tee signs were flat on the ground so you couldn’t spot from a distance where the next tee was. A few signs pointed to the next tee, but some to some serious searching (we accidentally teed off the 15th thinking it was the 4th). Perhaps in keeping with its dog friendliness, it featured no less that 8 dog legs (including the 12th which was nearly a 90 degree angle). The course is lies in amidst picturesque landscape, but the grounds itself aren’t fussily manicured (the bunkered were hard-packed and the greens as bumpy as Grace’s growth-ridden hind quarters) which contributes to a relaxed vibe.
Water – Nearly every hole has a drainage ditch crossing the fairway and there is a water hazard at Hole 4 (after which the hole itself is named – “Fern Pond”). They were all pretty dry, and if they are dry after the March we have just had, I suspect that they never get very laden. The course never returned back to the clubhouse, so pack plenty of water. It does have a half-way house at the 8th and 14th, but it’s been closed since the pandemic and the water fountain there is dismantled.
Wildlife – Quite a menagerie of squirrels, crows and a pheasant.
Wind Down – The Red Lion Inn was a welcome sight after the long walk for our old girl and a lovely doggie welcome they provided. They tucked us in a far corner so Grace could curl up on her blanket out of people’s way. They then brought her a dog bowl of water and set it next to her. She was so dog tired that she didn’t even get up onto her feet to lap it up, but just drank lying down. The food was just as satisfying for us human golfers. It is gastro-pub fare done distinctively and great variety (more desserts on offer than I have seen for quite some time).