Wessex 1

Welcome – Our recent camping “stayUKation” gave us not only the opportunity to notch another dog-friendly course, but also a new county to our list of dog golfing experiences – Dorset. Wessex golf centre was minutes down the road from our camp site overlooking Chesil Beach in Weymouth.

Walk – Under 3,000 yards and all of them flat make this executive course a particularly light dog walk.

Water – With the course being so small, you are really never that far from the clubhouse you could scurry back to if in desperate need of a drink. The 5th hole does sit on the far end of the course and features a small pond which had some fresh water from a recent downpour to give Grace some mid-round refreshment.

Wildlife – A seagull or two passing by.

Wind Down – Instead of Doggie Pubs, we just asked the Wessex GC attendant for a pub recommendation and he proposed Marquis Of Granby just down the street. It appeared to be set in an industrial estate that you pass through, but it turns out to be just on the outside. The “pub” has more of a working man’s club feel, but the expanse of tables made it easier to accommodate many people in a social distant way. It did have some outdoor seating at the front and back, but we opted to stay in with the changeable weather. We only had a drink, but the menu was extensive. And one thing that did stand out was the speedy service. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten served my drink so quickly (and at a table no less) which was most welcome.

Wessex 2

Wesex 3

Dog Day

There are the dog days of summer, but today is THE Dog Day in summer. International Dog Day 2020 established to encourage adoption of dogs. One of our obviously favourite reason to adopt a dog is to join in your favourite activities. Our favourite is golf, but we’ve found a few others to share to mark this special day below. No dogs pushing soccer balls around the yard or dropping balls onto bowling pins, but actually joining their human in the sport. And we also found the lovely video piece above by Leon and his human Jay Revell (I have noted in his comments section that ideal dog protocol is to steer clear of the teeing and putting greens).

SURFING with your dog

VOLLEYBALL with your dog

RUNNING with your dog

500 Courses

500 courses

500! Five hundred dog-friendly golf courses identified and added to the Dog Golf UK database (plus Manor of Groves which is no longer dog golfing). Coincidentally, the Roman numeral for 500 is “D” (for dogs).

I’ve recently noted that most golf courses now have Facebook pages and those pages include “Contact” buttons. I thought I would try reaching a few clubs that never responded to my emails through this route (maybe courses are more attentive to their Facebook messages than their emails). I have proceeded to message about 16 per day (that’s the limit of the number of messages that Facebook allows one to send at a go) and have been getting several replies back. Some are confirming that dogs are prohibited, but a good number of new dog-friendly courses have been identified and promptly added to the database.

The whole Facebook exercise has uncovered a number of added curious statistics which I will share when I am finished with the research (I have about 150 courses left to contact), but I thought I would call out the milestone that Dog Golf UK has hit the 500 mark in the number of dog-friendly courses listed.

We’ve only played 69 of those so lots left to discover. We have played pretty much all of the dog friendly courses within an hour’s driving radius of our home in Wycombe except for:

  • M25 Northeast courses (3) – Close to our daughter’s house so we will hit them in conjunction with visits to see her.
  • West/South London courses (3) – Close to our son’s house so we will hit them in conjunction with visits to see him.
  • Expensive courses (ie. Stoke Poges, Denham, Sunningdale, Swinley Forest) – Just a bit too rich for our already stretched budget on this project.

Furthermore, we’ve hit a few more far-flung locations in Cornwall, Norwich, Dorset and Hampshire in conjunction with some visits to friends.

And I would walk 500 courses…of course with canine companion caddie.

Brickendon Grange

Brickendon Grange 2

Welcome – Admittedly, we were rolling the dice to play this day. The forecasts had called for “thundershowers” all week, but on the day of, it said showers in the morning and mostly sunny all day. We booked a late afternoon round. Curiously and considerately, the course called us shortly after to say that their forecasts had called for showers later in the day and so they wanted to confirm that we wanted to play and if we did they would provide a discount to our round. I thought that was all very kind and welcome, but the clouds were parting and we thought we were going to be on the winning side of this bet. On the second hole, we did get a passing “little black rain cloud” that sprinkled on us (you know, a rain cloud directly above and blue sky every where else). But other than that, the day just got better. When we stopped for some refreshment at the 9th hole, the skies above were 100% clear. We were musing about how we might do some stargazing that evening, but

Water – In the end, maybe a bit too much water this round. As we proceeded on the back nine, the skies did get cloudier and cloudier until the heavens opened completely on the 17th. With a fair hike to the car park, we were completely soaked by the time we arrived. At least we earned our discount.

Not just water falling from the clouds, but also considerable amounts from water fountains. The path to the 1st tee featured a drinking fountain (obviously disabled for COVID19 protocol) and more than one of the several water features included a spouting fountain in the center.

Ponds at the 5th, 8th, 17th and 18th all brimming from recent showers made for very accessible drinks and dips for Grace. Unfortunately, I had my own Jean van de Velde Carnoustie moment on the 5th when I insisted on using a pitching wedge to get over the pond with a lie on a downward slope when I should have (and eventually did) used a loft wedge.

Walk – Aside from the top and tail (1st and 2nd, and then the 17th and 18th) of a big drop hole followed by a big climb hole), the course was a pretty level. We often ask when we check in whether the course returns to the clubhouse at the 9th which allows us to restock on water (or use the facilities to dispose of some water ingested). Some courses set off and never return until the final hole, but Brickendon circles back at the 6th, 9th, 12th and of course the 18th. Not only does this layout make facilities accessible, but it also make the course one of the most scalable that we have come across. That is to say that if you don’t feel up to a full 18, you can play 6, 9, 12 or even 14 holes (as it is easy to clip the 15th and 16th by going from the 14th green to the 17th tee).

Wildlife – Squirrel! Saw quite a few scampering squirrels including one who boldly crept up to the terrace where we were enjoying a mid-round drink. Obviously, conditioned that dining patrons might drop or share some of their nibbles, but instead of crumbs from the table, Mr. Furry Rodent discovered Grace sitting there staking her claim to anything falling from the table. After a moment’s surprised hesitation, the squirrel decide to volte face to more inviting areas.

Wind Down – Apres la deluge…Just down the road from Essendon I had found Bakers Arms at the top of the Doggie Pubs in the area, but its website’s booking didn’t work properly so I skipped it and moved on to the next one (customer service rookie error). Back in the neighbourhood and the establishment even closer to Brickendon Grange, I decided to pick up the telephone and call for a booking which worked fine. Their service was impeccable as they brought towels out for us to remove water and brought out a drinking bowl for Grace for her to fill up on water. The food was tasty and the warm, homey atmosphere lifted our drenched spirits.

Brickendon Grange 1


Essendon 1

Welcome – While we didn’t come across any canine caddies on the Essendon course, plenty of dogs at the clubhouse terrace made Grace feel right at home.

Walk – The clubhouse wasn’t the only inviting feature to this distinctive club. One of the overall flattest courses that we have played for ages made the walk, especially on the hottest day of the year hitting 37 degrees, more leisurely. Unlike every other round we’ve played since lockdown was relaxed, the New Course we played was not very crowded at all making it easier to take out time (with 2 championship courses and a pitch-and-putt, the club would seem to have loads of capacity for everyone). Even the playing of golf itself was made easier by the fairway layouts. They bulged precipitously in the middle making them extremely forgiving to slices and hooks. The copious water hazards generally flanked the holes or hugged the tees making them less intimidating.

Water – More “water, water everywhere”, but not so much to drink. Nearly as many water features, 14, as holes on the course. Some were dry because of the mid-August season. Those that weren’t were quite inaccessible for a drink because they we constructed with vinyl liners at a steep rake making them dangerous to access (the course has signs on all of them warning of deep water and prohibiting golfers from entering to retrieve balls. Fortunately, given the heat pounding down, the course swings back to the clubhouse on the 9th hole where we tanked up on lager and G&T as well as refilling our water bottles.

Wildlife – The land o’ lakes certainly attracted its share of conventional water fowl, but Essendon featured a quite broad menagerie along its lacustrine links. We came upon a family of rabbits munching happily next to the 7th green. But most uncommonly were two different muntjacs who nonchalantly ambled in front of us during our round. One on the 1st and one on the 18th hole (see picture at bottom). I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since their 9 hole course is named the “Muntjac Pitch & Putt”.

Wind Down – We had a bit of déjà vu from our Bramley hole 19 stop when we looked at the Cowper Arms menu which was identical to the one we had recently ordered from at The Seahorse. It turns out that they are both part of the Premium Country Pubs restaurant group. Typically, I am skeptical of food in chain pubs, but it looks like this one is aiming for a cut above Harvester and Wetherspoons. We had (another) tasty collection of starters (including the Sticky Chipotle Chicken which Lori quite fancies). And we got our “Eat Out to Help Out” discount (20% up to £20 on food ordered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays). We settled into their spacious and comfy beer garden as the evening air started to cool just enough to be comfortable.

Essendon 2

Essendon 3

Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon Common 1

Welcome – Another “commons” course, but this one nestled in a more urban setting – Wimbledon Common. The popularity of the area for city walkers means that there is nearly a 1:1 ratio between dogs and humans. So absolutely no self-consciousness about taking Grace on a round. And she made more friends than we did during the day.

Walk – A delightfully flat course making for lots of rolling bonus distance for well hit shots (especially in the dry conditions). The course doesn’t really have many bunkers, water hazards or dog legs. The obstacle of choice seems to be trees plopped right in between the tee and flag for you to skirt under, over or around.

Water – A few small streams and a modest water hazard on hole 9 but no real return to the clubhouse so set out with some full water bottles.

Wildlife – We’re back in the city now with distinctly urban winged creature pigeons and crows ruling the roost.

Wind Down – Instead of a doggie-friendly pub, a recommendation of a pub for dogs by a friend for our wind-down, but it was a ways away as we were visiting someone in the area while in town. But we did make note of the gastropub Fox and Grapes right around the corner from the clubhouse which is supposedly very dog friendly and you can take your dog to your table.

Wimbledon Common 2

Wimbledon Common 3


Bramley 1

Welcome –Our welcome started with our “wind up” at the club house. Arriving considerably early for our appointed tee time in the toasty weather we decided to start our round with a refreshing drink at Bramley GC terrace with a lovely view of several fairways below. Several members took fond interest in Grace that she would have appreciated more had she not been so impatient to get walking.

Walk – I never quite appreciated that Surrey was particularly mountainous until our Bramley round. The entire course seems carved into the side of a cliff. A multidimensional maze that makes you feel like you were in the heart of St. Clements with all of the call-up bells being rung all around (by hitting with irons, of course, due to COVID19 protocol). But finding hole was nothing compared to finding some of the tees themselves. Yellow and reds were often far apart from each other (and not in line with the hole). On the 4th hole, the yellow tee is about 100 yards to the right of the red tees and a few dozen metres below them in elevation. Lots of comment between Lori and I saying, “There’s my tee, so where’s yours?”

Water – The course has water fountains at 6th and 9th hole (as well as a toilet at the 9th), but the fountains were all decommissioned due to COVID19 protocols. In the middle of the course – holes 7 through 13 – it seems like nothing but water hazards. I was relieved that most were flanking rather than impeding, and Grace was relieved for their easy access to cool her paws on the hot day and grab a drink.

Wildlife – The profusion of water features attracted the usual collection of water fowl (Canadian Geese, Egyptian Geese, Mallards) including 2 “Swans” set in the middle of the pond by the 16th and 18th that were Mannequin Challenge world champions.

Wind Down – Down the road was the lovely doggie pub, The Seahorse. A spacious garden which was perfect for the sultry summer’s eve. Unprompted, the host brought Grace a bowl of water which she welcomed as heartily a Lori and I did our distinctive cocktails (Pineapple Daiquiri for me and a Blood-Red Orange and Grapefruit Gintonica for Lori). With the crepuscular calefaction and the gimlet gratification felt just a touch transported to a tropical resort. All of the fare is a cut above typical pub grub (though maybe just short of gastro-pub quality), but it was all just bonus to the delicious drinks were savoring into the evening.

Bramley 2

Bramley 3

Bramley 4

Bramley 5

Banstead Downs

Banstead Downs 2

Welcome – Another very four-legged-friendly course with equally friendly two-legged members at Banstead Downs. This day, the crowded course brought member Paul, out on a singleton round, into making our two ball into a friendly three ball. And we came upon one of the most generous 4-balls ever who let about a half-dozen groups behind them through. The parkland course was packed with the dog walkers so Grace was not out of place at all.

Walk – The scruffy parkland fairways billow out expansively endlessly dimpled with mounds and depressions. You think you have hit squarely into the fairway, but as you march out to your second shot you get a little worried as you can’t see your ball anywhere. Eventually you stumble upon it settled in one of the many bowls across the course.

Water – Hole 7 did have a water fountain, but it was all wrapped up due to COVID19 precautions. No significant water features and the course doesn’t make its way back to the clubhouse until the 15th hole., so fill your canteens to the brim before you head out on a toasty day.

Wildlife – The wildlife including a rogue’s gallery of usual suspects – squirrels, pigeons, crows, etc.

Wind Down – Often we bemoan the lack of good signposting on courses pointing to the next tees (especially as we are typically golfing new courses), but this day we were absolutely flummoxed by some of the worst signposting we have ever come across for a pub – The Harrow (aka “The Harrow Cheam”). If you type in “The Harrow” into Google Maps, you get something which is listed at “Sutton, High Street”. The map shows a “Cheam” and it shows a “Sutton” down the road. Eventually, we just went into The Harrow in Sutton, Cheam or wherever it was and they told us we had come to the right place. Unfortunately, DoggiePubs.org let us down here saying in its summary “Dogs are very welcome in all but one area which is fine.” Actually, it is the opposite…”Dogs are very welcome in none but one area (the garden).” And while the pub is open for food until at 9:00 pm table seating staying open until 11:00 pm, the garden (the only place dogs are allowed) closes at 9:00 (ie. done with your food and out). Despite all the mixed up information, we did have just enough time to squeeze in a drink and some light bites. The food was a cut above standard bar-chain fare while not quite being gastro-pub standard. The best part was that the garden had these individual private hut enclosures which were both heated and had their own individual televisions (so we were able to watch part of the Fulham-Brentford game).

Banstead Downs 1

The Millbrook

The Millbrook 5

Welcome – Our visit up country to The Millbrook started most auspiciously being greeted by golfing dog Louie (in photo below with his human). And at the end of the round, when we were the last few people coming off the course we saw the most bizarre and fun thing with someone (must have been a staffer) “walking” their quite spirited Weimaraner by following him in a golf cart as he tore down the walking path. Pure doggie joy.

As is the norm during these days of post-lockdown golfing fever, parties got a bit compressed and we ended up bumping up with another two-ball including club member Jason who was wonderfully engaging and so we ended up joining with them for the back nine.

Walk – Most hilly courses have one uphill hole followed by one downhill hole. But in the UK’s own version of Canyonlands National Park, this one crams the whole up and down thing into single holes. The Millbrook hits you with its vertical eccentricity right out of the gate with a 1st hole that you wouldn’t believe you were playing properly if the pro shop didn’t set you off saying “now let me tell you about the first hole…” The “fairway” is just a gaping chasm of heathland. The climbs out of these pits of despair are so deep that they have switchbacks. The Grand Canyon “Rim to Rim” race is arguably the most challenging ultra-endurance race in the world (9 miles down and 9 miles up), and these holes are like mini Rim-to-Rim challenges. Then the course designer thought “I wonder if I can make dog-legs at as steep an angle as these fairways?” The course may be dog-friendly, but the dog-legs on the 1st and 13th were decidedly golfer-unfriendly with their virtual acute angles.

The bunkers would seem a trivial concern when your entire fairway is one expanse of sunken earth, but they didn’t scrimp on sadism with the sand traps. Someone at the club must have found one of those tunnel-boring machines and contrived a way to dig holes straight down. Figuring out that it would take too long to dig all the way to China, they stopped halfway, tossed in a load of sand and said “good luck” folks (see photo at top).

And just to add to the quirkiness of the course, 3 of the greens are shared between front nine and back nine holes. These shared greens are huge, but still a strange sight to see four folks on the putting green at one time.

Water – The course features a sizeable aqueous hazard that requires traversing on both the 6th and 7th hole. As inaccessible as it seemed to make the greens, the water was easily accessed for a hot day’s drink by Grace.

Wildlife – The small lake in the middle is home to a range of water fowl, but the best bird mega-ticked in the course was my first ever Eagle. And I found it on a particularly challenging example of The Millbrook’s signature topography – hole 9 – where you have to drive across the Valley of Doom onto a North Slope of Despair. But it landed about 30 feet from the green and I followed with one of those eye rubbing shots – a 40 foot chip shot that dribbled into the cup (see photo at bottom).

Wind-Down – Facing the double challenge of finding a pub in the Milton Keynes area and finding a pub open into the evening on a Sunday, we simply opted for our refreshment at the clubhouse bar. They serve a range of food (which we weren’t hungry enough for) as well as drinks you can eat and drink at one of two outdoor areas (which do include a water bowl for the pups).

The Millbrook 1

The Millbrook 4

The Millbrook 2

The Millbrook 3

The Millbrook 6

“Bledlow Ridge”

Bledlow Ridge

Welcome – Grace and we discovered an incredibly dog-friendly course with probably the most exclusive club membership in the UK right in our own neighbourhood – “Bledlow Ridge”. We had been invited to play a round at our much favoured Temple GC with a warm-up “round” (well, more a round of drinks than golfing) at our good friends Neil and Sarah. Their lovely country links included an admittedly small facility, but what it lacked in expansive playing field, it made up for in expansive views. And what it lacked in playing limitations, it made up for in fewer dog limitations as their high-tech playing surface meant that the dogs could wander freely wherever they wanted including the greens themselves. In addition to a new “course”, Grace met two new buddies, Baxter and Bailey. They weren’t quite ready for the big fairways, but they were literally right at home at Bledlow Ridge.

Walk – Ten metres from end to end, and completely flat, makes the walk by far the easiest in the UK.

Water – The “course” had dog bowls on ready offer (and stronger stuff for the golfer sthemselves).

Wind Down – Our follow up to the elite “Bledlow Ridge” (membership is strictly vetted) was a full round at Temple GC hosted by Neil (the founder and owner of Bledlow Ridge GC) who is a member there as well. We were quickly reminded of why we were so infatuated with Temple when we first played it at the outset of our dog golfing odyssey. The clubhouse and 18th hole might simply have one of the best course views in the UK. The dog friendliness is evident as we were greeted by a couple of canine companions at club deck when we arrived. The course is challenging enough (especially summiting some holes like the 17th) and interesting enough (plenty of twists and turns and the inimitable vortex of doom on the 10th). To top it all off, being out on the hottest day of the year, the club was sending around a cold drinks cart which kept us refreshed especially having quickly consumed our several bottles of water we had brought along.

Bledlow Ridge 1