Epping 1

WelcomeEpping wasn’t just completely welcoming to Grace, but they all the players we came across were exceptionally amiable. As typical during the post-COVID golf craze, the course was packed, but everyone was in good spirits and generously coordinating play.

Water – More water wonderland with 7 water hazards. Only the 3rd hole was the hazard directly between the tee and the green. And even then it was a modest 100 yard distance to cross. All of the others were unobtrusively lurking off the side tempting the stray shot. All water holes were very accessible for Grace and she enjoyed wading into each for a quick lap.

Walk – Rockin’ and rollin’. The course winds up and down (considerably) and side to side overlapping on itself. The ups take you to some striking vistas (though the nearby M25 is not the best of them). This was one of the most visually interesting courses we’ve played in a long time. The 12th hole is a short par 3, but with a phalanx of topiary shrubs filling the approach making one of the most whimsical obstacles I seen on a course like playing on a Tim Burton film set.

Wildlife – Despite all the water features, we didn’t see any water fowl (most of the water pools were fairly small). Just a few urban fowl – pigeons, crows – fluttering past.

Wind Down – We tried to hit the Forest Gate Inn just down the road but arrived 5 minutes past their 7:30 pm closing time on Sundays. It looked like a good and convenient watering hole with plenty of outdoor seating.

Epping 2

Epping 3

Sutton Green

Sutton Green 4

Welcome – Everyone at Sutton Green was quite nonplussed by Grace’s presence and at the end one of the club managers came by and fussed over Grace much to her delight.

Walk – Another leisurely flat course.

Water – Water, water everywhere and plenty of drops to drink. Sutton Green is a regular water world. With seven water hazards including one flanking the 9th and 10th holes large enough to have its own gravitation field, and four others scattered across the course. In fact, 10 of the 18 holes abutted a water feature. On top of that, the 6th hole had a water fountain (though it was not working, maybe dismantled for COVID19 precautions). And the 9th hole returns back to the clubhouse for refills or even a more relaxed libation at their outdoor bar area looking over the course. And if all that wasn’t enough, we got a passing rain squall which when over produced a lovely rainbow that last for several holes (see pictures below)

Wildlife – The water wonderland is an obvious lure for waterfowl of all sorts especially Canadian Geese, Egyptian Geese and mallard ducks. And while dogs are obviously expected to pick up their mess, no such rule exists for the geese and others so watch your step.

Wind Down – We went down the road to the closest Doggie Pub taking bookings ending up at the Bird in Hand (see photo at bottom). It was unrated on the Doggie Pub site, but after visiting we gave it its first rating of top marks – 5 stars! They were extremely welcoming of Grace fussing over her as well, putting water bowls out, etc. The food was delicious gastropub grub. And the service was particularly attentive (including initiating moving us to another table when a neighboring big table started to get quite loud and boisterous).

Sutton Green 5

Sutton Green 8

Sutton Green 3


Bramshaw 1

Welcome – Our New Forest get-away weekend took us to Bramshaw the following day. They have two 18 hole courses. The Manor Course is the fancier one by the clubhouse which does allow dogs, but only during quiet times. The Forest Course is just down the road a few hundred meters (you have to drive their after you pick-up your bag-tag at the clubhouse). Being in the thick of the New Forest common land, dogs (golfing or not golfing) run freely all over the place. The New Forest course set in the untethered wilds of the New Forest with wandering ponies and other assorted creatures where the dogs fit right in. Many dog walkers traverse the grounds and we came across a group of ramblers on the 5th hole with a half dozen dogs in tow

Wildlife – We came across a handful of legendary ponies during our round, but much fewer than the New Forest course itself. And no cows or other livestick.

Walk – Bramshaw’s New Forest course is a bit more topologically eccentric than the simple grasslands of New Forest golf club. In fact, we ended up nicknaming it “Ferngully” after the classic children’s animated film because the course was littered with ferns and gullies. In fact, half the holes seemed to be hidden away in some Hobbiton-esque crevasse nestled in some hidden corner against the forest itself. And if your ball didn’t get magically made invisible in some secluded corner of a Bag End facsimile, then it might just have rolled into one of the myriad fern croppings littering the “fairways”.

Water – A the bottom of all of the gullies, were little rivulets with some water which often seemed fine enough for Grace to take a sip from, but they weren’t flowing that much this late into the dry season of the summer.

Wind Down – We proceeded to The White Hart at Cadnam for a lovely Sunday roast. With Grace quite puckish herself, we asked the server if the kitchen had any scraps from the roast prep (eg. gristle, fat) that we could treat her to. A few minutes later they generously brought out a little bowl of cut up roast beef pieces that looked good enough for a human to enjoy (though Grace gobbled them down before we got any ideas).

Bramshaw 2

Bramshaw 3

New Forest

Welcome – I don’t know if there is a more dog-friendly course around, but I’m sure you’d struggle to find a more animal-friendly course anywhere than New Forest. Four-legged creatures freely grazing far outnumber the mere iron-toting bipeds. The myriad of dog-walkers crisscrossing the area were the least of the animal kingdom represented. The video above provides a bit of a flavour of the farmyard experience – horses on the green (though pretty much always on the fringes as the green itself simply doesn’t have long enough grass to nibble). All of the herd seems pretty non-plussed by the golfers passing by.

Wildlife – The whole eponymous New Forest area is defined by its distinctive pastoral “wildlife”:

  • “The New Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in Southern England, covering southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire. It was proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conqueror, featuring in the Domesday Book. Pre-existing rights of common pasture are still recognised today, being enforced by official verderers.Commoners’ cattle, ponies and donkeys roam throughout the open heath and much of the woodland, and it is largely their grazing that maintains the open character of the Forest. They are also frequently seen in the Forest villages, where home and shop owners must take care to keep them out of gardens and shops. The New Forest pony is one of the indigenous horse breeds of the British Isles, and is one of the New Forest’s most famous attractions – most of the Forest ponies are of this breed, but there are also some Shetlands and their crossbreeds.” – Wikipedia

Walk – On the courses, New “Forest” is a bit of a misnomer given how few trees there on the course itself. New “Prairie” is a bit more like apropos with its general flat topology and especially with the herds of wild horses, cattle and deer roaming all day. While the fairways are mostly wide open, there are plenty of trees on the fringes to provide shade at most of tees and greens.

Water – No really natural sources on the course and no return to clubhouse.  The course map shows a small stream in the middle of the course (touching holes 9, 1, 15, 16, and 17) as well as a water hazard between 11 and 12, but they were all pretty desiccated.  So fill your canteens before setting out.

Wind Down – One of our catalysts to coming down to the south coast was to visit some dear friends we have not seen for some time. As a result, our wind down was a BBQ in their sumptuously manicured garden. The course itself was open and serving beers and other refreshments which would have otherwise tempted us had we not been anxious to join our friends.

New Forest 1

New Forest 2

New Forest 3


Marlborough 4

Welcome – Extending the serendipity of meeting Percy and Winnie at Shrivenham Park earlier this week, one of the courses they had played was Marlborough which just happened to be the next on our itinerary. And lo and behold, after many rounds of not meeting any fellow dog golfers, we came upon another regular on the fairways, Holly (see above). Meeting her was simply the icing on the cake of a very warm welcome to Grace by the various members we met (the course was quite crowded in ongoing the post-lockdown golf craze) and plenty of other dogs being walked on the periphery (the course sits on common land abutting the Marlborough Common itself).

Walk – One of the most picturesque courses we have seen (hence I was a bit more snap happy than usual). It starts with a lovely clubhouse garden (see photo directly below). Mind you the rather confusing COVID signs to the pro shop started out round with a rather extensive hike before we had even started out on the course. The course itself felt like a traversing the North Sea. The front 9 is quite stormy with towering rollers and being tossed side to side with fairways set at various angles. The metaphorical sea calms down in the back nine with more gentle undulations on a generally flat expanse. The entire course is set on top of an elevated plateau which provides dramatic views of the Wiltshire countryside in every direction.

Water – Not much water on the course itself (no water hazards), but not only does the 9th come back around to the clubhouse, but the 13th and 16th come back fairly close to the clubhouse if you desperately needed a refill or drink.

Wildlife – Murder! For some reason, all green areas around the clubhouse were attracting a more murder than Jack the Ripper with crows everywhere.

Wind Down – Just down the road, we found The Bell at West Overton who we not only very doggie friendly with water bowls on offer, but also had a pretty good system for the managing the coronavirus safety. They had the obligatory PPE, screens and one-way system, but they also added a capability that you would send your order to them on WhatsApp. Not only did it reduce server circulation in the establishment, but it also facilitated a logging for them of your contact details for the purposes of tracing and tracking. The food was delicious gastro-fare (I especially enjoyed the Venison Wellington).

Marlborough 1

Marlborough 2

Marlborough 6

MArlborough 7

Shrivenham Park

Shrivenham Park 4

Welcome – Playing Shrivenham Park is like dating a skateboarder…a bit of rough with a relaxed demeanor and more dangerous than meets the eye. Grace was thrilled at the abundant rough (as well as at Dad not having his best day off the tee on the front 9) which meant plenty of treats for finding the ball in the tall grass. The easy-going vibe was great for Grace as we are often apprehensive as to how receptive fellow golfers will be to our canine caddy regardless of the club policy. But the course was exceptionally dog-friendly.

Dog walkers traversed the parkland course throughout the round with plenty of new butts to sniff passing by. In an extraordinary bit of serendipity, we happened upon Winnie and Percy (see photo above) as well as their golfing human, Adam Ruck. As it happens, Adam is the author of the seminal dog golfing article “Courses That Welcome Dogs” in the Telegraph. This piece was one of the first I came upon when I was researching the subject to create the website. Today if you Google “dog golf”, is article is the 6th highest item to appear.

Walk – Shrivenham Park winds around like that drunken skater boy with paths crossing over fairways and holes even crossing over other holes. It’s a bit of a meandering pretzel layout, but at least it has very clear signs pointing you to the next tee. One lovely aspect of the grounds is the sheer diversity of types of tree. It was like a showcase of British arboreal diversity.

Water – Like the paths on the course, streams of water also weave their way through the grounds with several being quite fresh (and satisfying for Grace to rehydrate from).

Wildlife – Mostly a range of squirrels keeping a watchful eye on all the dogs walking by.

Wind Down – We were able to resume regular wind-down service at a nearby doggie pie, the Carpenters Arms, who not only had quite comprehensive COVID protocols for patrons, but also had a different entrance for dog-toting patrons (see photo below). The dog-friendliness of the pub hits you even before entering with prominent signs welcoming doggie drinking buddies. And the signs of welcome just continued inside with a special doggie treats menu (see below) which Grace appreciated hugely. The human menu had a fairly typical pub range of offerings, but also had several pizzas on offer which we extremely tasty (and Grace loves the “pizza bones”, aka crust).

Shrivenham Park 5

Shrivenham Park 6

Shrivenham Park 1

Shrivenham Park 2

Shrivenham Park 3

Mill Green

Mill Green 3

WelcomeMill Green not only provided a warm welcome to Grace, but also was simply one of the most overall welcoming courses that we have played. Despite the quite crowded course (post-lockdown desperation for open spaces is still in full swing), everyone was in good spirits and exchanging friendly greetings with lots of gushing over Grace and her green-side decorum. The course is built on parkland with nearby dog walking trails so dog walkers are a common sight.

Walk – Another course set in the level land of the Home Countries making for a very walkable round.

Water – There was so much water and sand everywhere that it felt like a day at the seaside. The COVD19 bunker rules made the profusion of traps more manageable, but 7 water hazards (some near lake-sized) put the pressure on fairway play. A couple shots went in the drink and we could see them just beyond club length reach. Grace could see them to and wanted to fetch them for us, but couldn’t figure out how to open her mouth underwater. Grace loved the water hazards as most had low banks making for an easy sip and even the occasion feet cooling.

Wildlife – There might not have been seven swans a swimming in their seven ponds, but there were every other species of water fowl enjoying the aquatic oases.

Wind Down – The doggie pubs are back! With the July 4ht openings we now could resume our regular wind-down service with a stop at a nearby dog-friendly pub. And the nearest to Mill Green (according to doggiepubs.org) was Attimore Hall. They were up and doing business which involved advance booking and a range of sterilization and social distancing protocols once there. Once advantage to the distancing was that the tables were spaced out more than we typically find which provide plenty of room to lay out Grace’s dog blanket on the floor to rest on while we dined. The food was nothing to rave about nor complain about. Pretty standard pub-chain fare produced competently. We certainly weren’t complaining as it was our first pulled pint in nearly four months (see photo at bottom)!

Mill Green 2

Mill Green 1

Mill Green 4