Going dog-friendly makes for happier golfers
If ever there was a club for “Bluebloods,” Royal West Norfolk Golf Club in Brancaster, England, would be the place. Since 1892, Royals like King Edward VII, the Duke of Gloucester and Duke of Windsor have been big deals here.
It’s links all the way and not long, but with the changing dunes, winds and grasses, it’s no piece of crumpet. I love that you can take your dogs, on the course – they even leave doggie water bowls on the tees.
So you think, who wants to play with dogs barking and running all over the place, up and over dunes, across your tee just as your driving. Not these dogs. They are English after all and properly behaved. They simply follow their owners at a respectful distance, don’t open their canine mouths, don’t howl when their masters shank a ball, don’t chase golf balls or players wearing plus fours (rwngc.org).
Although not exactly a trend here in the United States, in Marin County, Calif., San Geronimo Golf Course and Indian Valley Golf Club, allow players to bring their dogs around on their rounds.
Of course, the owners need to clean up after their dogs’ duties and rake out their little paw marks if they venture into the bunkers. But as long as the dogs follow the “rules of etiquette” they typically do not need to be leashed if they are not under control. Most are, happy to trot along their owners or flop on the cart seat looking bored out of their minds.
Steve Snyder, head pro at Indian Valley, says having their dogs along, “leads to happier golfers.” And yes, Indian Valley also makes water available for their four-footed guests.
Could this warm and fuzzy policy be heading east? Belgrade Lakes Golf Club in Maine has had a dog-friendly policy for years. And at Dutch Hollow Golf Course in Auburn, N.Y., a dog joined our group on the second hole and followed us for the entire round. Even when one of our players banged his club into the ground after a hook into the woods, the dog was friendly, respectful and didn’t slow us down. He belonged to the club owner and obviously loved the game – all proving the point while dogs are usually well behaved, golfers have their moments.
And look at it this way. With a dog in your foursome, you won’t have to deal with those pesky geese.
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