Dog-friendliness lies at the extremes of the UK’s geography and socio-economic landscape. The most dog friendly clubs in the land are found in the extreme north of Scotland or the extreme south of the south coast. Similarly, they are found in the most posh, most elite clubs or conversely the least expensive, casual rock-up 9-hole courses on common land. The more to the middle of the price range or the land mass, the less dog-friendly the courses become.
I asked all 2633 courses in the UK “Are dogs allowed to accompany players on the course?”
384 of UK’s 2633 (15%) golf courses allow dogs in some capacity.
Here are the headliner stats on dog-friendliness in the United Kingdom…
- Most Dog-Friendly Areas – Scotland, South Coast and Greater London all have a dog-friendly rate of around 22%
- Most Dog-Friendly Counties – Suffolk (36%), Highlands (32%), Cornwall (32%)
- Most Dog-Friendly Cities – Edinburgh (6 courses), Woking (4 courses) followed by Cambridge, Saint Andrews, Brighton, Bournemouth, Ashford, Alton, Guildford all with 3.
- Least Dog-Friendly Areas – North Ireland (4%), North England (7%), Wales (10%)
- Least Dog-Friendly Counties – A number of counties don’t have any (identified as yet). Counties Leicestershire, Cheshire and Warwickshire all have a single dog-friendly course putting them in the low single digits.
- Most Lead-Optional (Under Control) Counties – Kent (12 courses), Surrey (10), Suffolk (8)
Golfing with dogs not just more prevalent at the geographical extremes, but also the economic extremes. The most prestigious and expensive clubs welcome dogs and so do the most basic inexpensive parkland 9-hole par-3 courses. The exclusive clubs that welcome dogs include Wentworth, Sunningdale, The Berkshire, St. Andrews, Muirfield, Turnberry, Swinley Forest and Loch Lomond. Their legacy stems from decades ago when gentlemen members would often go hunting in winter months, but want to do something with the dogs in the summertime. And the lower end courses tend to be more relaxed about all policies and often have open-access covenants so dog-walkers are on the courses regularly any way.
A couple of the most dog friendly courses include the following…
- Sunningdale Golf Club – The clubhouse restaurant has a special menu for the dogs dining there.
- Goodwood Golf Club – The club has a special “Kennels Dog Membership” for dogs (the proceeds of which go to benefit the charity “Hounds for Heroes”) with special benefits of special treats, ‘clean up’ bags, walk maps and a personalised dog bowl kept at the club.
In the process of doing the research, I also uncovered some other curiosities about UK golf in general…
- Response Rate – Despite making direct and personal contact through whatever means directed by their website (contact form, email, telephone), the response rate to my simple question was 45%. If this was a general survey, that would be a great response rate. But as a potential visitor/member asking a specific question, more than half of the UK golf courses can be bothered to respond.
- Percent No Contact – I’m not sure what is worse…not responding or not providing any way for a member/visitor to contact you. 51 courses (2%) provided no contact details whatsoever (or the advertised website was down, email bounced or telephone disconnected).
- Percent Closed – The list of courses pulled from Wikipedia is not a definitive list and not sure how well it is maintained, but I was still surprised to find 116 courses (5%) permanently closed.
The wording of the dog policies varies tremendously. Some are quite simple (“Dogs are allowed under control”), but some are a bit more fun…
- “Dogs are welcome! As long as they wear proper golf shoes.” – Langlands Golf Club
- “2 rules – Clear up after them and they are not allowed to steal other players balls!!” – Machrie Bay
- “Dogs are mandatory. If you don’t have one, you can probably hire one from one of the other members” – New Zealand Golf Club