Lodmor

Lodmore dog golf 1

Welcome – This is my first course review of a course we didn’t actually play. We visited it, but couldn’t actually play it. Because it is such a small and uniform course, I felt I could write something useful about it just after a basic survey about it. Also, the welcome was by far the worst I have ever gotten at a golf course so I thought it would be good to document that and warn prospective visitors. Camping on the Portland peninsula for a bank holiday break, we made special plans to play a fun round here and introduce our friend’s dog Pepper (see photo at bottom) to hitting the course. The course has no website of its own and the listed telephone number is just a number for the Weymouth council who own the park and the course. The information said that it closed at 5:00 pm so we rocked up at 3:30 pm (it’s a short 9 hole, par 3). But when we got there, an older gent who appeared to be the manager said that they were “closing early due to planned maintenance at 4 pm”. “Planned maintenance” in the evening of a bank holiday weekend? Didn’t make sense, but I enquired further, “Could we just play and avoid where you are doing maintenance?” The gentleman responded, “No, it’s on the entire course. We are turning all the sprinkler systems on.” Well, looking at the decrepit course which seems to not have grounds maintenance as a priority that story not stretched credulity. So I decided to return at 4:30 pm to check out this alleged “maintenance”. The facility was shut tight and not a person in sight. No sprinkler engineer van, no sprinklers going, no manager to provide support. The lying jobs-worth just decided he wanted to cut out early for a weekend barbeque and screw the customers whose afternoon has been ruined.  Curiously, such unreliability seems to be endemic at the Lodmor Park complex as the parking signs admonish, “Please check that your attraction is open before paying for entry.”

Walk – A leisurely, holiday-esque stoll on a diminutive course on entirely flat coastal land.

Water – No hazards or natural sources, but you are never far from the entry (which has a spigot). And the course is so short (and shaded) that you could likely make it around in under an hour not needing a water stop at all.

Wildlife – Didn’t see any other critters walking around the perimeter of the course. Maybe scared off by squeals of delighted children.

Wind Down – Another motivation to write this review is to highlight this outstandingly dog friendly to stop just down the road for a post round drink – The Lookout Cafe. We DID get to enjoy this establishment. Water bowls, dog biscuits, and dogs everywhere (see below). Set on a bluff having a dramatic vista of the Weymouth seaside from Portand to Swanage is an expansive lawn where dogs are allowed to run around off lead. The café has delightful food. I wholeheartedly recommend the local crab sandwiches, but the “American fluffy pancakes” are perhaps a bit oversold as they fluffier than most British versions ( but not quite to American standards, not to mention that they served them with distinctively un-America Golden Syrup and not maple syrup).

Lodmor dog golf 2

South Winchester

South Winchester dog golf 3

Welcome – Lots of dog walking trails surrounding and even crossing some of the course meant dogs are a familiar sight on and around the course.

Walk – A gently undulating froth of lumps providing so many caroms that sometimes it seemed like we were playing pinball golf. Even the good shots would end up in random places depending on what slopes they hit. But none of the inclines had any severe gradients so it was a quite easy walk.

Water – Lots of big water hazards, but mostly inaccessible due to thick reeds surrounding them, deep drops into them, or liners providing to dangerously slippy sides. The 9th hole does return to the clubhouse as an opportunity to refill water bottles.

Wildlife – Plentiful waterfowl enjoying the water hazards including a resident heron.

Wind Down – A charming “19th Hole” provides basic fare while overlooking the 18th green (as typical) as with a waterside vista more appealing to the diners than the players.

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South Winchester dog golf 1

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Blacknest

Blacknest dog golf 4

WelcomeBlacknest was very happy to have Grace along (as long as kept on a lead).

WalkAnother relaxing flat course to provide a leisurely stroll which 13 year old Grace is increasingly happy to see.

Water – Blacknest seemed like the Venice of English golf courses. After the first hole every single hole of the front 9 had a water hazard to cross or flanking ominously from the side. Except for the 7th hole …which had TWO hazards to cross approaching the par 3 green. And that’s not counting the myriad of drainage ditches crisscrossing the course (see course map at bottom). Also, Hole 9 has a well outfitted halfway hut with water faucets. So no problem with thirst.

Wildlife – Lots of water means lots of waterfowl – ducks, geese, coots. Pretty much the full British lake menagerie.

Wind Down – Actually, not a wind down nor warm up, but a wait out. The front 9 was moving as slow as molasses due to an earlier society event, a newbie foursome bumbling along and lots of two-balls. We decided to ditch the playing and have a halfway hiatus (hole 9 doesn’t finish that close to the clubhouse so you have to walk the length of the par 5 Hole 18.). We had a delightful and very reasonably priced lunch at The Nest Café.

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Blacknest dog golf 2

Wrag Barn

Wrag Barn 1

Welcome – We have wanted to play Wrag Barn since we first started golfing with Rusty and Grace. At one of our first outings, we bumped into another dog golfer admiring them and he said, “You should go to Wrag Barn. They are very dog friendly.” Then, talking to Adam Ruck, he cited Wrag Barn as one of his favourite courses to bring his dog. And, distinctively, the course itself welcomes dogs right on its home page: “Visitors and non-members are welcome at Wrag Barn Golf Club along with well behaved dogs.” A main reason why I set up DogGolf.info is that clubs very rarely indicate on their web page even when they do welcome dogs (making Google searching for a canine-friendly course difficult). And our arrival was no disappointment as Grace was enthusiastically greeted by novice (puppy) canine member, Zack (see photo above) and his kind person. Also, a number of walking paths cross the course so we encountered a number of dog-walkers during the afternoon.

Walk – Nestled on the Wiltshire plateau, Wrag Barn is one of the flattest courses we have ever played. Even the greens were mostly level throughout which made the putting as enjoyable as the leisurely walk around the course.

Water – Water, water everywhere. More water hazards than we had played in a while. Filled by the recent downpours crossing the area which also had the several gullies flowing briskly (with fresh water Grace had to sample). Most of the bunkers were little mini lakes (fortunately, “GUR”). Normally, letting a dog into a bunker is verboten, but given the status we let Grace have play in the water (she is a bit of a water hound) and it did turn into her own personal “pub-dle crawl” as she eagerly sampled every mud puddle that she ventured into And turned her nose up at the fresh water we brought with us per usual (I guess she preferred to sample and compare the sandy bouquets wreaking of the disappointment and despair from golfers caught there).

Wildlife – A veritable countryside menagerie – cows in a field next to the 4th fairway (who took interest in Grace walking by), squirrels, rabbits, a broad array birds including a number of terns (I didn’t think we were that close to the ocean).

Wind Down – Actually, this was more of a “Warm Up” since our late tee time meant that we opted for a pre-round Sunday lunch at the Radnor Arms. It was a charming place with a delightful beer garden out back where Grace could relax on the grass. They offered up tasty dog treats at the bar. Unfortunately, the people food was a bit of a let-down. Pub-grub dressed up as gastro cuisine. The ribs were okay, the chunky chips and sweet potato fries tasty, but the lemon meringue pie was about the worst version I had ever tried (the lemon bit felt like lemon-flavoured applesauce in consistency and the meringue was too chemical tasting). Still, Lori’s 2 glasses of Primitivo went down well and must have helped as she then played her best round of the summer.

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Wrag Barn 2

Coombe Wood

Coombe Wood 1

Welcome – Many of the Coombe Wood members we passed came up and admired Grace warmly. One member related how another member regularly brought their dog on their course (and how the dog would get all alert when its owner was going to tee off, look like he wanted to chase the drive, but then see how far it went and turn away nonchalantly with a look that said, ‘nah, I didn’t want to chase it really.’). Still, the clubhouse manager did come out to and say, at first, that dogs weren’t allowed. When we noted that we had called to confirm, he clarifies that they are allowed but a bit later in the day, but he said it would be okay because the course was pretty empty when we were there because…

Water – What Coombe Wood lacked in water hazards on the day was more than compensated by the periodic downpours that passed through the area. Fortunately, we were able to huddle under various shelters through the round (including a well timed 13th hole refreshment at the clubhouse when the biggest shower of the day hit). And fortunately, Grace had puddles on over hole to sample through the afternoon,

Walk – Finally, a nice (mostly) flat course on the Surrey plain (we had just returned from a golf trip to the Azores which has some lovely courses, but they are carved into the side of a mountain). Even the greens were pretty tabletop reducing the putting frustration we had felt coping with the undulating holes of the Azores and how home club, Temple.

Wildlife – A couple of urban squirrels scampering past dodging the rain.

Wind DownWych Elm pub is just down the road and recommended on the Doggie Pubs website. It is a charming venue with an extra charming welcome to dogs. When we arrived with Grace, they seemed more focused on Grace than us asking whether we would like dog biscuits or a water bowl. When they sat us at our table, they immediately brought the water bowl (Grace got her drink before we even order ours…which is the way it should be in her eyes). A few other dogs were there so it scores super high on dog friendliness. Unfortunately, the food didn’t score quite as high. Good for “pub fare”, but not as good as the trendy dishes and descriptions implied. They did “fancy” dishes in in a less than fancy manner. We would prefer less fancy dishes done in a fancy way. The chicken liver pate was bland and served on soggy “toast”, the “flat” bread for the humous was some strange fluffy flat-ish bread (hint: toast some pita slides for the best humous starter). The mac and cheese balls were tasty. Still, worth the trip, if you don’t get your hopes too high for the food and its trendy descriptions on the menu, for the sake of the exceptional service especially for the doggie companions.

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Coombe Wood 3

Donnington Valley

Donnington Valley 1 dog golf

Welcome – Everyone greeted Grace with a cheery smile.

Walk – “Donnington ValleyS” might be a better name. The course itself is cradled in a picturesque Berkshire dale made all the more so by the colourful foliage of the late year afternoon. Then the course itself had its share of sub-undulations along the holes. And then the fairways and approaches themselves were littered with towering mounds and plummeting indentions (many of which were elongated sand trenches masquerading as a sort of sadistic bunker). It was valleys within valleys within valleys.

Water – The most striking water feature we have come across exploited the verticality of the landscape with a multi-tiered waterfall trickling down from one water hazard above to another below. The course also featured a pond with a fountain by the clubhouse and another by the 4th hole. With the recent precipitation, these were all filled to the brim with crystal clear water. And all except the pond below the falls were easily accessible for plenty of drinking by Grace.

Wildlife – A number of waterfowl (especially at the two-tier feature) including Egyptian Geese and quite a large flock of moorhens.

Wind Down – The clubhouse bar closed exactly when we pulled up to the window (4:30 pm). But not to worry as just down the road was the extremely welcoming pub, The Castle. They not only brought a dog bowl full of water to the table, but also offered Grace doggie-sausage treats which she appreciated as much s I enjoyed my Guinness. Not surprising that every patron in the establishment had their own pup in tow.

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Feldon Valley

Feldon Valley dog golf 1

Water – “Water” first on this write-up. If there is one place to find plenty of water, it is in a valley. And on this particular autumn day, the heavens bestowed all the more of it. We had booked an afternoon slot (with a very reasonable twilight rate) which was about the only break in the weather that week. And even then, the dark clouds decided to shake the last few drops from their loins onto us. Still, the late afternoon scattered showers meant one thing that we have come to appreciate and enjoy in the UK more than any other place we have visited…rainbows. On the way, passing through the rolling hills of the upper Cotswolds, we actually enjoyed a double rainbow (see bottom photo).

On the course itself, there were only a half dozen pure water hazards are sprinkled around the course, but slicing right down the middle is a significant flowing steam. Not just a little drainage ditch often found on courses, but an actually geographical feature properly named (Sutton Brook) and everything. It crosses the approaches of several holes that traverse it. The good news is that the stream is a free drop zone. The bad news is that when we were playing in rainy October, it was flowing so swiftly that by the time we got there to retrieve our stray ball, it had been washed away (and even if it wasn’t, the water was so turgid from the flow that there would be no finding it).

WalkFeldon Valley not only sits in a valley (good for views), but somehow has managed to incorporate the traversing of this trough with nearly a third of its holes. Another crossing the chasm course with 5 holes bisected with plummeting crevasses. At least, they had the foresight to construct staircases (yes, “staircases”) on several of these to make navigating them easier.

Welcome – We actually encountered another dog golfer during our round, Otter (see photo above). We had a very quick photo op greeting and Otter’s person waxed appreciative of how great it was to have a course where he could bring Otter.

Wildlife – Maybe the autumnal inclement weather has scared them into cover, but didn’t encounter much at all during our round.

Wind Down – The club looked like it had a quite impressive restaurant which it turns out is dog-friendly as well. In fact, the course is part of a hotel and the hotel welcomes dogs too! However, we had booked a recommended doggie pub down the road for dinner. The Red Lion was one of the most “gastro” of the gastro-pub we have visited recently. Truly tasty and superbly prepared food was just what we needed to take the chill off of our wet outing. Grace felt right at home with other dogs settled on the floor at every other table in our room.

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Feldn Valley dog golf 5

Alton

Alton dog golf 1

WelcomeAlton golf club is not only one of the most welcoming of dogs, but it is certainly the most welcoming club overall that we have ever played (having played over 70 different courses). On arrival, we met Millie, the resident dog who greeted us warmly (photo below). The members who welcomed us so kindly all knew the many members and their dogs who frequented the course. Mike “Hobbo” was especially kind enough to offer to take our picture which is the first shot we have of all 3 of us on a course (see above)! We stopped at the 9th hole (well, the course is a duplex setup with the “back 9” being variations on the 9 holes of the course) and could have just spent the rest of the day enjoying the affable camaraderie.

Walk – There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the course is a more modest length of 5627 yards. The bad news is that a good chunk of those yards are precipitous ascents. The course is bit like the final throes of a storm at sea being tossed up and down at the outset and eventually settling down to more flattened waters (with a bit of rocking back and forth at the ample number of dog-legs on the course). The silver lining to these high-altitude climbs is that you are treated to some amazing views of the Hampshire countryside at the summits (see below).

Water – Being on such a hilly terrain, it is no surprise that there were no water features (water spots tend to be at the bottom of hills, not the top), but there were water spigots at several places around the grounds. And the course obviously returns to the clubhouse at the 9th where there are dog bowls for Grace’s refreshment.

Wildlife – Not much on the course really, but a (fenced) field of sheep next to the 5th/14th hole (who took great interest in Grace as she passed by).

Wind Down – The “community-owned” White Hart was similarly welcoming to doggie patrons. Even before we had submitted our drink orders, the server had brought a bowl of water to our table for Grace. In fact, at one point in the evening, every single occupied table had a dog companion (and a water bowl on the floor). Unfortunately, the food didn’t quite live up to its trendy gastro-descriptions on the menu. The fancy names of the dishes on the menu didn’t match the pretty ordinary pub grub that came out of the kitchen (eg. the “triple cooked chips” are pretty much standard chips). The best part was the onion rings that had big pieces of onion with not too heavy batter.

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Croham Hurst

Welcome – Summer is truly over and now we are getting into the “Winter Season.” That means wetter, colder and shorter days. We decided to make our way into Croham Hurst to take advantage of a forecasted break in the weather for a mid-afternoon round to squeeze in some holes since Storm Alex had kept us off the fairways for over a week now. The day started with promising glimpses of sunshine, but as we approached the course, the darker clouds enshrouded Surrey. The rounds were very reasonably priced (£20 on a weekend) so we figured we would tough out as many holes as we could in regardless of what inclement conditions welcomed us.

The most welcome part, for us and Grace, was renting a buggy. This round was the first ever time we have used a buggy in the UK. Buggies are much more common in the USA and nearly every time we have played across the pond we used one (in fact, some courses require their use). It must be either American impatience or laziness. A major dividend from a round for all of us including Grace is the exercise from a 7k+ walk. So a buggy never made sense. But this day, the last few rainclouds were scudding into the area dropping a decent dousings of rain periodically. As a result, we thought that a buggy would be a handy bit of cover to duck into during the rainy bits (which it very much was for the first half hour while the weather got its last few rain clouds out of its system). It also provided the added benefit that we could make it around the course a bit faster. Given the ever-shortening daylight (all the shorter with cloudy skies), we were able to squeeze in a few more holes with our motorized assistance and our late tee time.

Walk – The question was what to do with Grace? Have her ride with us? Have one of us walk with her while the other drove the buggy. Both of us ride the buggy while Grace ran along side? It turns out, “all of the above”. Check out our video below. On one hand, we did bring her along with us during wet spells, but she did get to run beside us otherwise. And she really enjoyed stretching her legs especially as Croham Hurst is a lead required course.

Water – As noted, there was no shortage of water on this particular day. Otherwise, though, the course has no water hazards or run-off streams. Fortunately, the 9th hole features a water fountain (off for COVID) and the 10th swings back by the clubhouse.

Wildlife – I’ve never thought of outer Croydon as a seaside resort, but the most prevalent creatures on the course were flocks of seagulls. Maybe driven inland by Storm Alex or maybe confused by where the seaside stopped and the land began after the recent drenching of the UK.

Wind Down – Another evening at the inimitable Archie Parker to meet its namesake successor, retired greyhound Bonbon. Any time we are in southeast London area we will typically be drawn to our favourite dog-friendly café in the area (now with one of our favourite dogs to visit).

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Drift

Drift dog golf 3

Welcome – One of our recently uncovered dog-friendly places here in the UK is Drift GC. Everyone seemed nonplussed by Grace’s presence, and one particularly friendly lady went out of her way to say hello to her which Grace particularly appreciated (and she isn’t usually as enthusiastic receiving too much attention from strangers).

Walk – While the walk was nicely level, it still seemed to be a bit more tiring than its fairly conventional 6k distance would imply. Plenty of conventional sand and surf hazards, with the bonus hazard of scattered mounds. These carbuncles of turf reminded me of the many fatty lumps and bumps popping up on Grace’s aging body (which were annoying to our approach shots are they sometime are to Grace who fusses with them).

Water – Half dozen sizeable water hazards. Water fountain at the 15th and 9th (shut down for COVID) and the 9th returns to the clubhouse. In fact. the 9th had the water trifecta of a water hazard, a fountain and a halfway hut. The course could go by the nickname the “Ditch” golf club for a long sequence of drainage ditches running along the course. Your slice won’t roll far off the fairway before it is gobbled up by one of these (but in wetter times a ready source of a drink for Grace).

Wildlife – SQUIRREL! Never seen so many squirrels on a golf course. Each hole seemed to have its own resident furry-tailed rodent.

Wind Down – We set down at the nearby The Black Swan which is a charming gastropub striving for cut-above fare. The spatch cock chicken and truffle mac and cheese exceeded expectations though the “tempura” broccoli was just fried in conventional batter that was too doughy. A lovely place with lovely food.

Drift 1

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