Four Marks

Four Marks 1

Welcome – We had a bit of a sad welcome to Four Marks, but it was nothing to do with the course itself. We had long planned a foray further south with the distance justified by seeing our fellow dog golfing friends, the Baileys. Initially intended as a reunion for Grace and Pepper, with at Grace’s departure it pivoted into an anticipated soothing dose of doggie-ness from Pepper to help our grief. But when we arrived, the Bailey’s told us that Pepper too had passed away just a few days ago from a sudden seizure. As a result, the session became a memorial round to our two beloved companions. I wore my Rhoback dog golf shirt (see above) as I had to step in as the face of Dog Golf UK for the day. The course is undergoing a bit of a refurb at the moment, but nonetheless, it is a bit of a casual aesthetic typical of such parkland courses. But always makes dog accompanying players a bit more relaxed about how fellow golfers feel about canine caddis.

Walk – The course is laid out in a tidy and fairly compact 9-hole course at only 1960 yards. Being flat it was a very easy step back onto the links after an extended time away after losing Grace (and my hip giving me a bit of gip). The exception to the flatness was the greens who seemed to all be perched on near vertical precipices. The course play, like our old girl Grace, was a bit rough, bumpy and motley.

Water – The course has small artificial ponds near holes 1, 4 and 7, but they (like many other parts of the course) were under repair so completed dried out (actually, without being spring or stream fed, most small artificial ponds of this type don’t make for good drinking as they get quite stagnant even if they do have water). Still, with such a small course, you are never very far from the clubhouse if you need to retreat there to get a drink.

Wildlife – Lots of sheep and cows in the surrounding fields, but not too many critters crossing the fairways.

Wind Down – The clubhouse itself had a lovely dining area which, as you can see from the sign below, certainly welcomed dogs. But we opted for the intriguingly named “Castle of Comfort” pub just down the road. Several very friendly dogs in the bar area greeted us. One of the simplest menus with an assortment of nicely grilled meats (with some excellent cheesy chips). So plenty of opportunities for scraps for your fellow dining dogs. In fact, the proprietor is also a butcher so you can ask him for some extra bones or scraps that he might have out back.

Four Marks 2

Poulton-le-Fylde

Poulton-le-Fylde dog golf

With the loss of Grace, we blessed to have another report from Bertie to keep the dog golf reconnaissance coming in

Having added a couple of days leave onto the platinum jubilee we thought we would entertain Bertie with another 9 holes. This time we put the doggolf.info website to test. We looked up the database of dog friendly clubs, selected Lancashire (a very small offering from Lancashire!) and the nearest to us was Poulton-le-Fylde golf club.

A quick email to confirm dogs were welcome got an instant response confirming they were and that members regularly brought their dogs with them.

It’s a nine hole course with a large clubhouse and a very nice veranda with a view onto the course. On arrival we paid at the bar, £10 each, and on the veranda was a member with a dog!

It was busy and we had managed to get the last available tee time, there were lots of people around the first tee. Poulton-le-Fylde golf club has the tag line “the friendliest golf club on the Fylde coast” and this was certainly true. Everyone wanted to be introduced to Bertie so there was a crowd when we teed off. Thankfully they both went down the middle!

It’s also a parklands course with a very relaxed atmosphere.

We now have a better understanding of how we control Bertie, we have bought a lead we can tie to posts when putting and driving, we have also developed an understanding of who should hold the lead and when. Bertie seems to be getting used to golf as well, he used to manically chase a ball and i had set aside an old ball for him but he never once chased a ball today.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle dog golf 2

And other delightful account from the roving northern Dog Golf correspondent team of Bertie and Steve:

Having visited the highest and oldest nine hole golf courses on this holiday we then played Alnwick Castle. This would be easier for controlling Bertie as we were joined by the youngest daughter. On arrival went in to pay, told the lady the secretary had said we could bring a dog, she didn’t bat an eyelid “no problem”.

Now Alnwick Castle is a real 18 hole course, and it is a club that is on the up. I understand the Duke of Northumberland owns the land. While we were there work had started on a new club house and there will also be a number of expensive properties built on the outer edge of the course.

It is £15 a round and a small charge for trolleys and the current clubhouse is next to one and eighteen so nine if furthest from the clubhouse, this will change as the new clubhouse is right in the middle of the course.

The day we went there was a seniors competition on and none of these even noticed the dog. Mrs B parred a short par 3, well done her. Couple of seniors saw her drive the ball straight onto the green and then me shank it wide left onto their tee. They were still waiting to play as we arrived and the old fellas just gave me that pitying look as i was clearly being outclassed. One whispered “My wife does that when i play with her as well”!

The course opens up into an open parkland course with good views of the surrounding countryside. There are some steep climbs but overall it was in excellent condition. There were lots of ground staff knocking about and they all waved and said hello as wed passed with Bertie.

On returning to the clubhouse for a drink the bar staff insisted that Bertie be served first taking a bowl of water out to him before we could even order ours!

It is a good course and the addition of a new clubhouse will really enhance the experience, we speculated about buying one of the houses should our lottery numbers come in.

Alnwick Castle dog golf 1

Alnwick Castle dog golf 3

Alnmouth Village

Almouth Village 1

Bertie (and Steve) provides another first-hand report on a Northumberland course while Grace relaxes in the backyard for a well-deserved break and a bit of recuperation:

Alnmouth Village Golf Club is the reason why we took up golf. When Bertie was a puppy we stayed in Alnmouth and Bertie loved the beach so much we have been back a few times. There is a magnificent nine hole course between the village and the beach, it really is stunning. We always said it would be great to play the course hence we started golf lessons and this was the first time we would actually play the course instead of just walking the dog on it!

We played twice, once just us and then with another couple who came to stay for a couple of days, they have a Jack Russell. Alnmouth must be the most dog friendly place in Britain, dogs are welcome everywhere.

The clubhouse has lots of picnic tables and dogs are welcome inside as well. They do the whole range from bacon butties to Sunday lunch. It’s incredibly friendly and £15 for nine holes. Trolleys, just help yourself and put them back afterwards.

The course is flat apart from one hole, the sixth. You drive up onto the plateau onto another fairway with a short iron shot onto the most elevated green, it’s a short sharp incline and its a blind shot requiring you to ring the bell for the next group to play.

The next tee gives you amazing panoramic views of the course and Northumbrian shore. It’s a quite satisfying tee shot as you see your ball fall downwards onto the fairway below. It’s a typical links course and if your ball disappears into the rough don’t bother looking for it!!!

Members are so used to dogs, as we played and crossed other parties they would wave ask if we were on holiday and pass on tips for the next hole. On one occasion we were just walking Bertie on the path alongside the course watching others play. Bertie spotted a ball on the fairway and ran to retrieve it with two mortified owners running after him. The four ball just fell about laughing while the owner of the ball just complained that Bertie could have dropped it nearer the hole.

Alnmouth Village Golf Club is England’s oldest nine hole course and remains an enduring course to play you are ever anywhere near.

Almouth Village 2Almouth Village 3

Alston Moor

Alston Moor dog golf 1

I am sad to report that Grace might just be entering dog golfing retirement as she is suffering from a lame right-rear leg making it very difficult to walk. The debilitation has slowed her down and is combined with some other indications that she is simply becoming a very old girl (14 years old in a few weeks). I am happy to report that one of Dog Golf UK’s supporters, Bertie (and his person, Steve Brown, unofficial “northern correspondent”) has stepped up to share a number of guest posts from their recent Northumbria golf tour. Thanks Bertie (and Steve)!

Alston Moor Golf Club – The highest golf course in England. Bertie, our Tibetan terrier is two and a half years old. Having a dog changes a lot of what you and where you go on holiday. We have now gone to the same Northumbria cottage three times since we got Bertie. During that time we have also started playing golf, so whereas the three hour drive from Lancashire to the cottage would have been broken up with a quick stroll along Hadrians Wall we now look for golf courses!

So Alston Moor Golf Club fitted that description perfectly. It is a remote course with wonderful views of the North Pennine moors. I had emailed the club secretary who made it clear Bertie would be welcome. It was £15, which is outstanding value.

On arrival we were welcomed by the secretary and as the weather was bad we had the golf course to ourselves. The course has ten greens, nine holes with eighteen tees. The course was in really good condition with some tricky holes. The course also had two defibrillators, it is a steep climb back towards the clubhouse! The clubhouse was closed while we were there so plan to not have access to standard facilities.

We saw deer just yards from the course and bertie had a great time.

What did we learn about dog golfing? If you hook him up to the trolley he pulls it over. And, we need a second lead to attach him to benches etc while we tee off. Eventually we gave in and gave him his own golf ball.

Alston Moor will definitely be visited again on our journeys north.

Alston Moor dog golf 2

Cranleigh

Cranleigh 1

WelcomeCranleigh isn’t just dog-friendly, but family-friendly. When we arrived, a number of small children were enjoying lunch on the clubhouse terrace. It wasn’t long into the round that we encountered our first fellow dog-golfer. He was accompanied by a wired-haired Vizsla cross (actually Grace is from a wired-haired litter, but came out smooth coated) named “Buda” (as in the Hungarian capital, Budapest – see photo directly below). Her person informed us that he mum and sister were also on the course that day. Our enquiry about the dog protocol told us that dogs were allowed under control so Grace got to amble beside us with a bit more freedom, but shortly into the round, a golfer came up to inform us that the rule was now “lead required” (so Grace go harnessed up for the rest of the round and I have updated the database).

Walk – At first blush we thought the course would seem shorter at a more modest 5644 yards and only a few inclines to climb, but many of the holes seemed quite long. The layout was a bit disorienting for the unfamiliar. The tee signs were flat on the ground so you couldn’t spot from a distance where the next tee was. A few signs pointed to the next tee, but some to some serious searching (we accidentally teed off the 15th thinking it was the 4th). Perhaps in keeping with its dog friendliness, it featured no less that 8 dog legs (including the 12th which was nearly a 90 degree angle). The course is lies in amidst picturesque landscape, but the grounds itself aren’t fussily manicured (the bunkered were hard-packed and the greens as bumpy as Grace’s growth-ridden hind quarters) which contributes to a relaxed vibe.

Water – Nearly every hole has a drainage ditch crossing the fairway and there is a water hazard at Hole 4 (after which the hole itself is named – “Fern Pond”). They were all pretty dry, and if they are dry after the March we have just had, I suspect that they never get very laden. The course never returned back to the clubhouse, so pack plenty of water. It does have a half-way house at the 8th and 14th, but it’s been closed since the pandemic and the water fountain there is dismantled.

Wildlife – Quite a menagerie of squirrels, crows and a pheasant.

Wind Down – The Red Lion Inn was a welcome sight after the long walk for our old girl and a lovely doggie welcome they provided. They tucked us in a far corner so Grace could curl up on her blanket out of people’s way. They then brought her a dog bowl of water and set it next to her. She was so dog tired that she didn’t even get up onto her feet to lap it up, but just drank lying down. The food was just as satisfying for us human golfers. It is gastro-pub fare done distinctively and great variety (more desserts on offer than I have seen for quite some time).

Cranleigh 2

Cranleigh 3

Cranleigh 4

Cranleigh 5

Redlibbets

Redlibbets guest review

Another kind reader and keen dog golfer is Terry Aston who shared their experience at Redlibbets. Redlibbets is one of several dog-friendly courses that he introduced me to and I have added to the database. His fairway adventures are shared with not one, but two black labs – Winnie and Millie. Millie is herself a golf connoisseur of some distinction having visited 65 courses in her career putting her right up there for lifetime bests with Grace, Rusty and very few others. They we also accompanied by his wife, Jenny. I find it a curious that yesterday’s guest, today’s as well as Lori and myself are husband-wife teams. I wonder if playing with dogs is relatively more popular with those golfers who treat the sport as a family affair? Here is Terry’s report:

Yesterday, Nov 16, Jenny (my wife), Winnie and Millie – our 2 black labs – played at Redlibbets, Kent.
We were made to feel very welcome and one member went through every hole telling us what to expect, we were nearly late for our tee time. Teeing off the first was a slight dogleg but fairly level and was a gentle introduction to the course. All the fairways were pristine and the greens in excellent condition. The whole course was superb and there was a good variety of holes. The course was set out over 2 sides of a valley with a couple of the fairways running along the bottom of the valley. For the time of year we were surprised at how good a condition the course was in. The 2 dogs really enjoyed their walk which was a fairly easy walk with a couple of steep climbs. We would not hesitate to return if in the area. The bar was open for food but we didn’t stay. All in all, a successful day.

Bakewell

Bakewell 1

While I have been limited in getting out on the (UK) courses, a few dog-loving readers have been more ambitious and have shared some guest posts reviewing more courses for DogGolf.info! First up is Steve Brown (and “Mrs. B”) with their canine caddy, Bertie. They play a number of course in the north of England (which are great to hear about since it would be a long way for us to go and that region is relative less represented in dog golfing):

To begin with we are novice golfers, don’t even have a handicap, we are also relatively new dog owners with Bertie the Tibetan Terrier not quite two when we visited Bakewell. It was my third visit to a golf course and Mrs B and Bertie’s first.

We were on holiday and found the dog golf website which really encouraged us to take Bertie with us.

We emailed the club secretary before booking. She was excellent and a real credit to all those volunteers who keep local clubs alive. She encouraged us to play but did say they didn’t normally allow dogs but come back to her if that was a problem. We did, telling her the tee time we wanted no one else was booked in and it was late in the day. We understood that the dog would be on the lead and kept of greens and bunkers. We offered to contribute for Bertie’s green fees!

Having got the go ahead we booked a 2pm tee time. It’s a small club with a clubhouse with 9 holes with two different tees for each hole. We met several club members on the round and no one questioned Bertie’s presence and all were very accommodating and friendly.

The course is high on the hillside offering fantastic views over Bakewell. It is steep in parts and it’s a good workout. Tee shots are sometimes over the previous greens and one over a bridleway and another over a small country lane.

We all had a great time and you do need to make accommodations for having a dog, swapping the lead over etc, however we were last out so there was no pressure from players behind us.

My takeaways from this first attempt at dog golf are:

  • Plan how you intend to play with the dog ie who will do what, do not just set off.
  • Pick a quiet time of day.
  • Engage the club you want to play at, recognise they might have concerns, leave your contact details so they have some confidence if something went wrong.

We would definitely play Bakewell again, it’s a great little course which is challenging. The secretary was brilliant. It has encouraged us to take Bertie out with us again.

Most of all Bertie led under the table in the pub that night, result!!

Bakewell 2

Lavender Park

Lavender Park dog golf 1

WelcomeLavender Park doesn’t just welcome dogs…it welcomes everybody. It is dog-friendly, family-friendly, everybody-friendly. Such a relaxed vibe makes it very welcoming for any one apprehensive about taking their dog out for a round for fear of how other players will react. The course is popular with novices just learning and families having some fun so no one is particularly precious about being distracted from their shot.

Walk – Just over a single kilometre for the 9 hole pitch and putt (well Hole 1 is a drivable 226 yards). On completely flat ground makes it probably the easiest course we have ever walked.

Water – There are no water hazards except for a stagnant pond in the centre of the course (which is inaccessible due to steep banks anyway). But you are never very far from the clubhouse if you are desperate for a drink (or actually, right across the street from the 7th hole are two pubs).

Wildlife – Mostly just scampering lit’uns dabbling in the game.

Wind Down – Maybe the easier the walk, the nicer the wind down as for the second time in a row we enjoyed a particularly sumptuous post-round meal at the nearby The Winning Post pub. Grace was welcomed by a bar crowd that seemed to have more patrons with canine chow-time companions than without. Being a Sunday, a roast was the special of the day and Grace particular appreciated the gravy-laden meat trimmings (it was one of the finer roasts we have eat with a some particularly interesting and tasty veg accompaniment instead of the usual, steamed-to-death soggy broccoli, peas and cauliflower).

Lavender Park dog golf 2

Burford

Burford dog golf 1

Welcome – Another catch up with our friends out west gave us the opportunity to try out another Cotswolds course, Burford. Their welcome to dogs was made clear with a water bowl placed right at the entrance to pro shop as we went into pay.

Water – There are no water hazards on the course or even little streamlets. 7th tee does have a water fountain, but not it is not working (it might be still shut off from COVID). But the 9th does have a traditional finish at the club house where you can stop in for a refill (or even more leisurely drink at the spacious outdoor patio by the bar).

Wildlife – SQUIRREL! The torture for the golfer are the copses of trees lining the narrow fairways that put the “thick” into “thicket”. And the nightmare for some dogs will be the plethora of squirrels living in those trees and scampering across the fairway on a regular basis.

Walk – The Wiltshire Plain course lies on the one of the flattest areas we have played for some time making it a most leisurely stroll though you could still get some lively views of hills rising in the distance.

Wind Down – Another fuel-up instead of wind-down, this time at the Maytime Inn. Due to the logistics of the day, we stopped in for a pre-round lunch rather than a post-round dinner. We enjoyed one of the most delicious golf day meals in a long time. The Maytime not only defines gastro-pub with a truly gourmet menu, but it also has a splendid outdoor garden with more views of the surrounding hillsides (unfortunately, they weren’t serving food outside despite the sunny day). The major problem for Grace was that there wasn’t more scraps or leftovers for her to enjoy as we polished everything off handily.

Burford dog golf 2