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

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.

South Winchester dog golf 2

South Winchester dog golf 1

South Winchester dog golf 4

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.

Wrag Barn 3

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.

Coombe Wood 2

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.

Donnington Valley 2 dog golf

Donnington Valley 3 dog golf

Donnington Valley 4 dog golf

Donnington Valley 5 dog golf