How To Play A Round With Your Dog

I was at first delighted to find this video posted by the prominent golfing website, Golf.com – “How to Play a Round with Your Dog”. The tone was enthusiastically supportive of dog golf and it hailed from the USA where allowing dogs on the course is very rare. Unfortunately, the well-intended piece to camera was just filled with lots of misinformation that I had to correct so that misunderstandings would not put people off dogs joining their persons for a round. I thought the most effective format to do this in was a “reaction” video (posted above), but I’ve also included a crib notes below:

  • ”This is everything you should know about playing golf with your dog.” – Well, not really. Lots of important stuff missing (like keeping them off the greens), but hey, still a good start.
  • “The first thing you must do is determine if you are playing in the morning or the evening…” – Ahem…not quite. But you do put on the screen the REAL thing that you must do which is…
  • Find a course that allows K-9 Caddies.” – In the USA, this is the hardest part. And while it gets mentioned on the screen, the narrator never actually mentions it (in the UK, no problem at all with DogGolf.com !). Unfortunately, he seems to have messed up here because when I contacted Cherry Hills Golf and Lodge to confirm if they allowed dogs, they informed me that dogs were not allowed on the course. <facepalm> But let’s carry on with looking at this well intentioned video…
  • “You’re going to want to keep a leash on your dog for optics reasons at the very least.” – Actually, this is incorrect. Golf courses are very clear about their dog policy which is either (a) “lead required” – which means on the lead attached to the golfer or the trolley at all time, or (b) “under control” – which means that the pretence of dragging a lead on the ground is not required and the dog can move freely as long as the master keeps them behaving according to the strict guidelines.
  • “Start leaving your dog bag in the same spot at the tee box. It will be a bit of a lesson for where your dog can and cannot roam.” – I liked this tip. It is an especially good tip for dog golfers who play the same course all the time.
  • “Perhaps the most important question is ‘Is your dog a chaser?’…Nothing is more important than a tennis ball or a frisbee or anything that can get you a 10 second distraction” – Ignore this advice. It is terrible. The advice is essentially saying, “If your dog can’t control themselves from chasing your golf ball, then pander to them by distracting them with thrown items.” For starters, the players behind you or next to you are not going to be thrilled with you throwing objects around them just to distract your dog while you take even more time to tee off. This advice about “chasers” should read, “If you dog can’t control themselves from chasing the ball, then they should be kept on a secure lead during the entire round to prevent them from doing so.” Period.
  • “She even left her [tennis] ball by a tee box one time.” – Aggh…no! No dogs on any greens. That includes BOTH the hole greens and the tee greens (later at minute 3:00, the video shows the narrator throwing the ball across the tee green so that Jersey tears across it. Bad owner!)
  • You can never pack enough water or treats.” – While our Grace would endorse the latter part of that assertion, the water bit is probably a bit over-stated. Better advice would be something like, “Always make sure you have plenty of water for your dog either from water faucets on the course, accessible water bodies (like water hazards or streams) or bottles carries with you.”
  • “[For water] re-use these lemonade mix cartons. They work pretty well as a water bottle and a dish to drink out of.” – Handy tip for the USA (lemonade mix isn’t a commonly found item in the UK). Not sure that the portion amount for drinking would satisfy Grace.
  • “[Figure out] how to not get to excited about the bunkers.” – Let’s be more explicit here. No dogs in the bunkers ever.

[POSTCRIPT] A few days after this video was released, a follow up written piece was posted to accompany it, “9 Key For Playing Golf With You Dog”

  1. Is your dog a morning caddie, or an evening caddie? – This is a silly, misguided tip. The key tip is “If you concerned about how well your dog might fare, then choose an off-peak playing time.”</style=”color:>

  2. Permission might be easier than you think – Again, the author totally bollixed the permission issue. Frankly, in the USA especially, permission is difficult period. Also, his info on St. Andrew is wrong. St. Andrews has dogs on it *ALL* the time (except competitions).

  3. Leash up! – Per the video commentary, this advice is too simplistic. Either (a) respect the club rules (which may require a leash), or (b) keep your dog under control at all times (and a leash might be needed for some dogs).

  4. Is your dog interested in golf? – Strange tip. Nearly all dogs will relish a long walk with their persons (which is what “golf” is to them). The only real question is whether they can (or want) to behave well enough to do so.

  5. The tennis ball is your lifeline – Worst tip ever. Don’t ever bring a tennis ball (much less throw one) on a a golf course.

  6. The water limit does not exist (and here’s a pro-tip) – Having water is indeed important and the lemonade mix container is cute (for Americans).

  7. Endless treats don’t hurt either – Ok, Grace will not be happy with me if I don’t endorse this one.

  8. Doggy waste is different – Bit of an over-kill tip. The basic tip here is “Pick up after you dog and dispose appropriately”. Period.

  9. Start ‘em young – Yeah, ok. As long and people don’t think that old dogs can’t be taught new fairway tricks. Because they are often more chilled, we find that older dogs actually make better golfing companions.
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