Dog Golf Hall of Fame

Dog Golf Hall of Fame

As I have become more acquainted with the dog golfing community over the years, it is clear that some dogs stand out for their quality as a course companion and their extensive experience on the fairways. I’ve wanted to showcase some of the special dogs, and then visiting a course recently I was struck by the various wooden honour boards (“Ladies Champion”, “Club Captain”, “Holes in One”). I thought Dog Golf should have its own honour board.

Big thanks to Steve Spalding at Gold Tree Bespoke who are leaders in the leaderboard business making many of these honour boards for golf clubs and elsewhere. Steve provided the customised digital board above onto which we could inscribe the names of our honourees.

For the inaugural induction, there really could be no other than the co-inspiration for the site in the first place – Rusty.

  • Rusty pioneered dog golfing in the UK as one of the Dog Golf UK poster pups visiting over 30 courses in her lifetime. Her love of the outdoors and her attentiveness compensated for her occasional over-enthusiasm for a passing woodland critter.

  Rusty dog golf hall of fame

Dog Golfing Around the World

Facebook dog golfing in world

In my recent research, I happened upon the Lebanon Turf dog golf calendar. They publish a “Dog Days Of…” calendar every year:

· “It’s that time of year again where we at LebanonTurf, along with the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA), get to know a new round of golf dogs. Every year, we take submissions from golf courses all over the country who want their pal to be featured in our Dog Days of Golf Calendar. And each year, one of these lucky calendar dogs is chosen as our Dog of the Year, which comes with some pretty great perks.”

With 4 years of calendars (52 dogs featured including cover), I thought that the profiles about the dog and their course would be a great source of finally finding some dog-friendly courses in North America where dog golfing is virtually unheard of. However, after reaching out to the first 26 courses featured, it turned out that just because a dog was pictured on their course doesn’t mean they allow dogs. In nearly all cases, the dogs belonged to the course superintendent or grounds keeper (the Lebanon Turf customers) who brought their dog to work for the day just for the photo op.

Still, I did find Zelda (directly below) featured from the Schifferdecker club in Joplin, Missouri, USA. I did add her to my list of other courses I have stumbled on across the world adverting dog-friendliness from Croatia (see photo at bottom) to British Columbia, Canada. With several in hand, I thought I would start a Google Map of the Rest of the World courses for reference.

As always, contact me if you know any others and I would be glad to add them to the map/list (and also welcome a guest post if you are so inclined).

USA dog golfing

Croatia dog golfing

Facebook Update

Machrie Facebook

Doing some more recent research, I noticed how many golf clubs now have Facebook pages. And most of those pages have message facilities which promise prompt response. So I decided to sit down and send a message chipping away at a couple dozen a day of the clubs that I had emailed during my original research (but they never replied).

I did get many to respond to Facebook, but still overall only 133 out of 804 clubs contacted by Facebook message responded to the Facebook message – a pretty sad 16% response rate.

The good news is that the total number of dog-friendly courses in the UK identified (and profiled in the database) is now up to 521 (up from original 384) a hair under 20% (from the original 15%).

The leading areas remain the same and account for the biggest chunk of the additions. The added data just showed Scotland, South Coast and Greater London to be even more dog-friendly than first identified as they increased their dog-friendly rate of around 22% to >45%.

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.

Rusty Farewell

Rusty 1

While Grace is the face of Dog Golf UK, since the very start of our canine caddy adventures, Rusty has been her dutiful partner. Today, we said a tearful farewell to her as cancer took her buoyant and affectionate life from us.

Rusty was a carefree spirit who came to life in the outdoors soaking up the fresh air and all the stimulating scents and scenery. While Grace is the consummate golfing companion dutifully finding our balls and trotting diligently beside us, Rusty kept reminding us of the exhilaration just being outside in the gorgeous countryside which is such a big part of why play this often confounding pastime.

She will be missed on the Thames-side trail where we walk, in her cozy blankets by the sofa and bed, and not least of which on the golf course which gave her so much joy and inspired us with it as well no matter how badly our game was going.

Rusty golf cart

The Londogolf

LonDog

DogGolf was partly inspired by a range of dog friendly sites we use (eg. DoggiePubs). Another great site, TheLonDog, covers everything canine in London and caught up with us recently to learn more about the world of golfing with dogs:

“Dogs and golf. Two words that one may think have little chances to be found in the same sentence. Not for entrepreneur Bruce Lynn, founder of website Dog Golf, who – following a happy encounter – went on a mission to map out all golf courses that allow hounds in the UK. We chat with him about his discoveries and insights into dog-friendly golf courses in London: a very unexpected thing you can try in the capital with your dog!”

VOTE for DOG GOLF!

Dog Friendly vote

Dog Golf UK is nominated for the annual Dog Friendly Awards in the UK. Please vote for us to help raise the profile of dog golfing in the UK and make it even more welcome.

Since 2003 we at DogFriendly have been helping businesses to open their doors to responsible dog owners and have given our members access to the largest database of dog friendly places to visit safe in the knowledge that their dogs will be as welcome as they are.”

Please vote HERE.

  

Guest Posts by Dog Golfers Wanted

Dog typing

Send us your overviews of your favourite UK dog golfing course!

Over the past few months since we started DogGolf.info, we have gotten around to a good number of dog-friendly courses in the west-of-London outskirts with a few forays into Surrey and Norfolk. We probably can comfortably make the claim that we have golfed more courses in the UK with dogs than anyone else in the world (if anyone knows of anyone who has done more, please let us know!).

Rusty and Grace have now visited most of the “under control” dog-friendly courses within a 1 hour driving radius of our home in Marlow. That covers most of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and some of Oxfordshire, Surrey and Hertfordshire. We are also plotting dog golfing holidays in dog-golfing hot beds of the south coast and the north coast (ie. Scotland).

But those outings will skim the surface of the 400+ dog welcoming courses in the UK. In order to fill the gap, I am hoping that you can help me with your own perspectives on dog golfing where you go.

A submitted course review should look at the course from the dog’s perspective and your perspective being with the dog(s). You can include a sentence or two about the course play, look, service, amenities, etc., but otherwise keep the post focused on how aspects of the club and grounds affect the dog side.

As you will know from my posted pieces, the review has four basic components:

  • Welcome: What is the dog vibe? Do the people seem happy or a bit put off by the presence of your pooch? Do you encounter other dogs? Are there any special amenities laid on for the dogs?
  • Walk: How hard is the walk? Are there distractions or dangers to the dog?
  • Water: What is the access to water on the course (eg. lakes, ponds, streams, spigots)?
  • Wind Down – The ideal piece includes a post-round visit to a nearby dog-friendly pub with a few words so people will know where to go for refreshment after a day of dog golfing.

We will also need two pictures with of your dog(s) on the course and an introduction to them (names, breed, ages, how often do they go golfing with you, what do they enjoy the most about it, what is the biggest challenge).

I reserve full editorial rights and all copyright is fully licensed to doggolf.info.

Thanks to any and all contributors.

Course Map

Map of dog courses - wide

One of most powerful features of DogGolf.info is the Google Map of dog friendly golf courses. This capability allows you to find the closest clubs to where you are (home) or where you might be (holiday). It has been vital for us planning some upcoming golf vacations to Cornwall and Scotland (both very dog friendly part of the world where golfing is concerned. But it is also helpful for short trips. We are visiting friends for a weekend in Suffolk and used the map to plot a course where we could play a doggie round en route on the Saturday and another coming back on Sunday.

The map also makes two colour-coded distinctions:

  • Blue = lead required
  • Green = off lead under control allowed

Also,  there are few symbol distinctions:

    • “✪” indicates that we have played the course and reviewed it on the site (these courses will also feature a picture from our visit).
    • “⊗” indicates a membership constraints (typically that membership is required to play the course or to bring a dog).

In the future, I might add “layers” for price ranges or other variables if I see there is and interest.

Map of dog courses - zoom

Rusty and Grace

Rusty and Grace

Allow me to introduce Rusty and Grace.  Our canine partners in doggolf.info and pretty much its inspiration. 

Rusty and Grace are Hungarian Vizslas. The breed is known for being very affectionate which is how they first stole our hearts.  Our Vizslas will turn away from food to get affection.  They are also known for enjoying and needing LOTS of exercise.  Even more than their fellow Hunt-Point-Retrieve (HPR) breeds.  If you ever watch Cesar Milan’s “Dog Whisperer” TV show and there is a Vizsla involved, before he has walked through the door, he anticipates the root problem will be lack of sufficient exercise.  The owners often think they are doing fine with an amble around the block on lead, but the Vizslas really need to cut loose off lead and fully stretch their legs for at least an hour every day.  Cesar has prescribed skateboarding, obstacle courses, biking (we have taken them on 20 mile bike rides and they came back with more energy than we had), and weights in an effort to discharge a bit of their boundless energy.  You can see how we thought of them when we were enjoying our 3 hour walks on the golf course.  Mind you, we still have to take them for a mini-walk before hitting the links just to take the edge off their energy.

Many people ask if Rusty and Grace are sisters.  Actually, they’re not even the same breed, officially.  Rusty is a straight haired while Grace was born to wire-haired parents (but her hair came out straight).  We had Rusty first, but a breeder (knowing we had been looking for a Vizsla puppy) called us the day after we got Rusty and told us about a rescue situation with this other puppy (born four days before Rusty) called Grace.  I still remember the portent of destiny in the form of a text message from my wife about Grace, saying, “I’m just going to go look at the puppy…”

Grace is definitely the dominant one.  Bigger and more assertive.  Always rounding up “the pack” and making sure she moves along (one of the things we have to be attentive to is if we stop to talk to other people or dogs, she gets quite vocal with the whining that we should be moving on now…in general it’s fine, but on the golf course, we don’t want her laments to distract other golfers).  Rusty is less biddable, but despite running faster and farther than Grace, she is also content with being on lead.  Grace loves to chase sticks and balls, but Rusty is happy to chase Grace.

With Grace’s leadership, biddability and ball skills, it made sense to make her the front-dog for Dog Golf.  If we ever succeed in devising a golf-ball-finding competition, she is our best hope for a competitive entry (we are now working on converting her highly honed stick and tennis ball skills into Top Flight ones).