Gracie Girl. Our nickname for her. The literal face of Dog Golf. Our co-pioneer to explore the courses of the UK and share our insights with dog-loving golfers around the world. As reported, Grace left us in June. We still miss her every day. She still holds the “world record” for courses “played” by a dog. She wowed countless players with the ball-in-the-rough sniffing ability. Long may her legacy of role modelling of canine caddying live on.
Despite having a Dog Golf Instagram account (@dogggolfing), we’re not really that active on it (as our solitary post would testify). But I do enjoy perusing Instagram when I’ve got a bit of time to kill and I must tip my hat to their algorithm as it serves me up mostly puppies and other dog clips (with occasion cats). But one grammer I actually subscribe to is the ingenious JauncyDev who caricatures various dog breeds in assorted human situations. Last week, JauncyDev depicted how different dogs would be if they weren’t just accompanying their human, but actually were doing the golfing. Enjoy!
Today DogGolf.info features an exclusive piece by international dog golfing advocate in the Netherlands, Linda Van Borssum. I stumbled upon her Facebook page “Golfen Met Hond”. It included lots of lovely posts about her fairway adventures with her two pups as well as great references to other dog friendly courses on the continent and even several shout outs to DogGolf.info. She kindly shared her dog golfing story with us:
I have been playing golf for a while. Mostly 9 holes because I have 2 dogs and I don’t want to leave them at home alone for too long.
Then one day…..
I saw an advertisement of The Dunes; a golf course in Zandvoort, the Netherlands. They were organizing a golf fair and invited people to join. So I asked my golfing friend and her husband in the Facebook comments where the event was being advertised:
- Me: “Hey Simone, this looks nice, shall we go?”
- Simone: “I think that would be fun. But what about the dogs?” (we both have dogs and Zandvoort is a 4 hour drive for us).
- Nigel (owner of the Dunes)“Just take the dogs with you!”
- Me: “No way, is that possible? I have never seen a dog on a golf course.
- Nigel: “Yes, off course that’s possible. It’s also common here to go for a round of golf with your best friend/your dog”
What a great idea. We often play golf on different courses in the Netherlands and when we are on holidays abroad. But when we take the dogs with us on holiday, we thought that playing golf would not be possible. This Dunes opportunity is something we want to try.
So off we went to Zandvoort, the four off us, with our dogs. Especially my dog Brigges (the black one, a Rottweiler, 5 years old) thought this was a great idea. First off all he likes to come along wherever we go. He likes to exercise. And he likes to do chores. And soon we noticed: he likes to run after the ball. (but he is a bit too strong to just run off, so bad idea!) He has to wait first and can only start walking when we tell him to. Then he looks for the ball and points to it with his nose; not touching it, because that is, of course, not allowed. He is also not allowed to come on the green so he has to wait a while. Otherwise, we are afraid he would leave pitchmarks with his nails. And we haven’t been able to train him on reparing pitchmarks.
It took some practicing. But Brigges loves to practice and to find the ball. He is very proud when he does. And he finds a lot of balls (even ones we didn’t hit ). He also likes the Ping-sound of the driver. In fact so do we, when its sound like a good hit . Dabbert (The red dog, a Boulab, 3 years old)) just likes to walk and watch. He doesn’t care so much to do the exercises and listening is not his cup of tea. But he likes the walk and the company. They both don’t care so much for other dogs or people on the course. But once we saw a herd of deer running across hole 3 at the Ullerberg, Ermelo. They liked that a bit too much. But we always have them on the leash on the course. Just for these kinds of moments!
Anyway; dogs enthusiastic, we enthusiastic. We wanted more. But it turns out: not everyone is enthusiastic about dogs on the course in the Netherlands. You get a lot of comments from people who think this is a really bad idea. “I don’t take my cat or my bird in the cage either, so leave them dogs at home! What’s next? What if he gets a ball on his head? Dogs don’t belong on the golf course. What will he do when I yell Fore?” etc.
Well, here’s a tip. You can train your dog for FORE. And you can train your dog for a lot more. Sometimes better than people, I guess. Ever noticed when someone yells FORE a lot of people look up to see where the FORE-ball is coming from?
Anyway, I asked our dog-trainer to come up with a few exercises to train the dogs for a nice walk on the course. Sit and wait even when strange things are moving before you, is always a good exercise!
And when you try this golfing with dogs; not to forget; bring enough water and some snacks for your hairy friend. A lot of courses welcome your dogs but most restaurants don’t.
My dogs are strong enough to walk all day. And they don’t care about hills or rough fields. But they don’t like it when it’s too hot. And I always carry poopbags. Just in case. But I walk the dogs before we go golfing.
I got more and more excited and wanted to check what more I could find. Where I could bring my dogs to the golf course. It opens new opportunities for vacations for example. I checked in England, Scotland, Germany, France and it’s all perfectly normal to walk with your dog there. Even St Andrews is dog friendly. After a bit off digging, I found out that there are also a number of golf courses who are dog-friendly in the Netherlands. Then I thought; maybe there are other dog owners who want this too so I have created a Facebook page: Golfen met hond (the page is in Dutch). Through the page, I found that a lot of people want to take their dog(s) with them so I made a list and put it on Facebook and I got a lot of tips from people to make the list even longer and longer.
Some courses reacted because they got completely excited. It resulted in competitions for “dogs and owners”, the first one in the Netherlands. Of course, at The Dunes. I wonder if it was the first one ever? I hope to organize another contest this year in September.
What I like about this, is that all of a sudden, I am in contact with people in and out of the Netherlands. People who want to take their dog on vacation and want to play some golf.
And that’s how I became the lady with the golfing dogs .
DogGolf.info is proud to announce the induction of Millie into the Dog Golf Hall of Fame. Millie has distinguished herself with an extensive golfing career of over 200 rounds on over 70 courses. Her golfing person, Terry, recently shared a post about one of her latest outings. In a very special scoop, Millie has shared her own personal perspectives of a dog’s life on the fairways:
Millie – A life as a golf dog
Well, it all started when I was about 6 months old. My owners, Terry and Jenny, were keen golfers but always left me with their daughter whenever they went to play. On this occasion Terry decided that I was old enough to come along and so began my golfing experience.
The first course I visited was Thorpeness. I had to wear my harness which was attached to the golf trolley by a lead. I soon learned not to pull as the golf trolley would topple over! I very quickly learned to sit quietly whilst shots were played and to wait patiently whilst visits to the green were made.
Thorpeness was very quickly followed by a number of visits to other local courses that allowed dogs – Dunston Hall, Diss, Bungay, Brancaster, Hunstanton, Great Yarmouth to name but a few.
My first golf holiday was to East Sussex visiting Cooden Beach, Crowborough, Mid Sussex, Royal Ashdown, Lewes, Seaford, Seaford Head and Littlehampton, Since then we have visited Shropshire, Northumberland, Scotland and Kent, each area more than once. I have clocked up over 200 rounds of golf on about 70 different courses.
Last year Winnie arrived to join me on the course. She very quickly learned the ropes and its great to have the company on a round together. We love the fresh air, the walk and just being with our owners – I wish they would let me off the lead to chase that squirell!
Millie is 6 and is currently passing on her caddying expertise to fellow working strain black Labrador, Winnie (1 year old).
Happy National Dog Day (in America). While North America does not actually support dogs on the golf course (except in a few rare clubs), their canine appreciation does, inspire a few special fundraiser competitions on the tournament calendar. Many of these are in aid of canine charities (and yet, still oddly don’t integrate the beneficiaries of their largesse into the day’s festivities). In fact, one charity Canine Companions Golf promotes such events and keeps a list of those on its website (as well as a number of “Putting for Pups” events).
So show your appreciation for your best friend by asking your club about allowing canine companions on your round (even if for a trial period during off-peak times), or at least join in a golfing event which at least supports better lives our puppy pals.
Dog Golf UK announces the 2021 Dog Golf Hall of Fame inductee – Dexter.
Dexter the black lab is a pioneer of dog golfing whose exploits were an initial inspiration for Dog Golf UK. When we were first looking for courses to take Rusty and Grace on to. His person Lorne Smith is editor of the Fine Golf website and newsletter which is a rich source of information on golfing in the GB&I and was the one place I found with information on the dog protocols of various courses. It also featured a number of pieces about golfing with your dog.
Dexter holds the world record for the highest number of different Courses Walked by a Dog – 83. Dog Golf’s Grace is up to 72, but since we have golfed most of the dog friendly courses within an hour’s drive, and given the uncertainty about 2021 with the pandemic impact (as many courses are limiting visitors with so much pent up demand by members), and given that Grace is going on 13 years old (still healthy and vibrant but get more fatigued on the rounds), Dexter’s mark could stand for quite some time.
Dexter’s obituary a few years back documented his illustrious career. A few excerpt highlights:
- “In early days, taking him on the golf course formed part of his training to be patient and not ‘run-in’ on squirrels etc. He learnt to wait by the green while the golfers putted out and then moving on to the tee would be seated in the right place to the front off-side. He was seldom interested in the golf game itself but when he saw Lorne coming down the stairs in the morning wearing his golfing plus twos Dexter would not leave his side until he was in the car and on their way in case he was left behind. Hares are the most difficult game to stop a dog from chasing and when out at Royal West Norfolk GC, Dexter put one up near the second tee and belted across the seventeenth fairway, losing it in the salt-marsh. When it is almost de rigueur to have a dog with you at Brancaster and many dogs can be less well-behaved than Dexter, Lorne was not too worried as the players disturbed on the seventeenth fairway were not angry but enjoyed the spectacle of his embarrassment and were at least impressed by Dexter’s obedience to return on the whistle.”
I contacted Lorne about Dexter’s honour, and he shared these added reflections:
- “I am honoured for the late Dexter to enter your lovely idea of a golf dog hall of fame. A lot of people still ask after him as he was always with me if dogs were allowed and there are lots of photos on the FineGolf course reviews with him sat in front of somewhere that I wanted to photograph. He did become a bit of a star primarily because of how well behaved he was having been trained as a gundog with whom I competed in trials as well as working him picking-up.”
A great source of “golf dogs” is the social media site of the moment, Instagram. Unfortunately, it is not as great a site for identifying dog-friendly courses. I explored Instagram, especially the #doggolf tag with 820 posts (for some reason #golfdog has 19,087 posts!).
Of course there was over half of the pictures with hashtag grenades that only vaguely has anything to do with “doggolf”. Some were just dogs on indoor putting matts or sitting on a golf club at home. But a good number showed a dog actually on a golf course – just over 100. A dozen or so posts that were not geotagged, I DMed the post to ask which course they were on. Only 2 people got back to me (and they clarified that dogs were no actually allowed on the course for one of the reasons below).
Nearly 90 were actually geotagged with the name of the course so I simply contacted all of those courses. About a quarter (22) of the courses got back to me. 6 confirmed that they were dog friendly (so I added them to the Worldwide Dog Golfing Map). The other 18 told me that they did not allow dogs. Which did beg the follow-up reply of “Why does this Instagram post have a picture of a dog on your course?”
These false alarms tend to fall into the following groups:
- Staff – Especially grounds keepers bringing their dogs to work.
- Working – Scaring birds and some assistance dogs
- Dog Walkers – Photos taken “by” the course.
- Unauthorised – A few snuck rounds
- Poseurs – Just there for the photo
Let me know by email or in the comments if you know any other courses in the world that welcome dogs.
There are the dog days of summer, but today is THE Dog Day in summer. International Dog Day 2020 established to encourage adoption of dogs. One of our obviously favourite reason to adopt a dog is to join in your favourite activities. Our favourite is golf, but we’ve found a few others to share to mark this special day below. No dogs pushing soccer balls around the yard or dropping balls onto bowling pins, but actually joining their human in the sport. And we also found the lovely video piece above by Leon and his human Jay Revell (I have noted in his comments section that ideal dog protocol is to steer clear of the teeing and putting greens).
SURFING with your dog
VOLLEYBALL with your dog
RUNNING with your dog
Welcome – Another “commons” course, but this one nestled in a more urban setting – Wimbledon Common. The popularity of the area for city walkers means that there is nearly a 1:1 ratio between dogs and humans. So absolutely no self-consciousness about taking Grace on a round. And she made more friends than we did during the day.
Walk – A delightfully flat course making for lots of rolling bonus distance for well hit shots (especially in the dry conditions). The course doesn’t really have many bunkers, water hazards or dog legs. The obstacle of choice seems to be trees plopped right in between the tee and flag for you to skirt under, over or around.
Water – A few small streams and a modest water hazard on hole 9 but no real return to the clubhouse so set out with some full water bottles.
Wildlife – We’re back in the city now with distinctly urban winged creature pigeons and crows ruling the roost.
Wind Down – Instead of a doggie-friendly pub, a recommendation of a pub for dogs by a friend for our wind-down, but it was a ways away as we were visiting someone in the area while in town. But we did make note of the gastropub Fox and Grapes right around the corner from the clubhouse which is supposedly very dog friendly and you can take your dog to your table.
Welcome – Grace and we discovered an incredibly dog-friendly course with probably the most exclusive club membership in the UK right in our own neighbourhood – “Bledlow Ridge”. We had been invited to play a round at our much favoured Temple GC with a warm-up “round” (well, more a round of drinks than golfing) at our good friends Neil and Sarah. Their lovely country links included an admittedly small facility, but what it lacked in expansive playing field, it made up for in expansive views. And what it lacked in playing limitations, it made up for in fewer dog limitations as their high-tech playing surface meant that the dogs could wander freely wherever they wanted including the greens themselves. In addition to a new “course”, Grace met two new buddies, Baxter and Bailey. They weren’t quite ready for the big fairways, but they were literally right at home at Bledlow Ridge.
Walk – Ten metres from end to end, and completely flat, makes the walk by far the easiest in the UK.
Water – The “course” had dog bowls on ready offer (and stronger stuff for the golfer sthemselves).
Wind Down – Our follow up to the elite “Bledlow Ridge” (membership is strictly vetted) was a full round at Temple GC hosted by Neil (the founder and owner of Bledlow Ridge GC) who is a member there as well. We were quickly reminded of why we were so infatuated with Temple when we first played it at the outset of our dog golfing odyssey. The clubhouse and 18th hole might simply have one of the best course views in the UK. The dog friendliness is evident as we were greeted by a couple of canine companions at club deck when we arrived. The course is challenging enough (especially summiting some holes like the 17th) and interesting enough (plenty of twists and turns and the inimitable vortex of doom on the 10th). To top it all off, being out on the hottest day of the year, the club was sending around a cold drinks cart which kept us refreshed especially having quickly consumed our several bottles of water we had brought along.