Let the dogs out, already!

Making the case for more golf courses to be dog-friendly

In celebration of National Dog Day, Brandon Tucker is lobbying for more dog-friendly golf courses in the U.S.

It's a pleasant summer afternoon and you have a tee time at your local golf course, set on hundreds of acres of sparsely-populated green space. Meanwhile, your energetic, furry companion is sitting at home in the A/C.

That ain't right.

Chances are, you haven't even thought about bringing the dog, because you've never seen a dog at your course and it's presumably because they aren't allowed.

Seems silly in a way, doesn't it? You would think that well behaved, leashed up dogs would be allowed in just about every outdoor space on earth.

But in reality, very few public courses in the U.S. allow golfers to bring their dogs along, most likely a result of liability fears and the fact many courses aren't all that walkable. Golf course superintendents, of course, have energetic sidekicks who chase geese and perform other duties. Courses in the U.K. are generally more welcoming to dogs, especially those historic links courses that double as public park space.

The Links Trust courses at St. Andrews are a public park and there are dogs sharing the grounds with golfers every day. Other links have walking trails that weave through holes, and most let you bring them for the loop, like Cruden Bay G.C. near Aberdeen:


As someone who enjoys both playing golf and walking the dog, I'm fortunate to live near Austin's municipal courses, which allow dogs at each (downtown's Butler Park Pitch 'n Putt allows them as well). At another muni in Burnet, Texas, Delaware Springs, they allow them as well. There are rules: scoop the poop, and keep them on a leash. Once in awhile it's abused and you'll see a dog scurrying down the fairway chasing squirrels.

But generally speaking, no one seems to kick up much fuss. And whenever I bring my dog Izzy, I see other dogs there too. Heck, at Hancock Golf Course, a homeowner across the street often lets his chickens out of the coop in the evening onto the course.

I digress ...

I have a hypothesis the golf industry might want to consider: Walker-friendly courses in over-saturated markets could stick out from their competition by marketing to dog owners.

Many golf facilities' futures lie in providing a more multi-dimensional product (see: FootGolf). Appealing to dog-owning golfers could give business a nice little uptick. Maybe a non-golfing spouse comes along and walks the dog while the other plays, and then ultimately becomes curious enough to try the sport themselves.

Conversely, if you showed up to your regular course and was paired up with a golfer who brought their dog along, would it incense you to the point of never returning?

Look, there can be risks with bringing any animal to a sporting venue. Dogs, off-leash or spooked by noises, could find themselves in harm's way.

One of my dogs, a skittish rescue pup, doesn't have the temperament for golf. I realized this when I tied her up to my golf bag next to the practice green while I went into the pro shop to pay. While inside, apparently someone came up to her, which spooked her and she ran off, dragging my golf bag thru the parking lot, clubs falling out and scattered between cars. We played nine but she was in obvious distress, and my golf bag has the scuffs to prove it.

It is paramount that owners take every safety precaution necessary and perhaps most importantly, know whether or not their dog has the proper temperament for the course. I don't think it's safe for dogs to be in a moving golf cart, especially if they are tied up.

So, golf isn't for every dog. And not every dog owner follows the rules. But if we outlawed every activity that was ruined by a few bad apples, we'd never leave the house, amirite?

If recent public spats over off-leash dog parks is any indication, there are many of you who would be incensed to see that your home golf course begin to allow dogs. We asked you on Instagram recently if dogs should be allowed and the responses have been quite mixed, from "Absolutely!" to "Are you crazy?!?!" You can view the comments in the post below:


But, what is the worst that could possibly happen? All sorts of businesses have begun catering to the dog-friendly crowd: restaurants and bars, high end hotels, Major League Baseball games, you name it. Surely there are some enterprising golf courses in each market that could follow suit.

The #GolfDog hashtag on Instagram has more than 1,000 posts, and you can see there are a decent amount of golf courses scattered across the U.S. where dogs can come along for the loop. If you have a course in your hometown that allows dogs, be sure to let your fellow readers know in the comments below. This GolfClubAtlas thread also lists some courses that allow dogs.


Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
10 Comments
Commented on

Two courses near me. Cameron Golf Club (aka The Carrick on Loch Lomond) and Cardross. Cameron has an open door policy to both members and public walking dogs. However the odd thing about Cardross, members are not allowed, but guests can?

My dog loves it, and I would only play at clubs that are dog friendly.

Our members complain about the ducks and geese, not me?

Commented on

Port Ludlow golf and resort is dog friendly,
North Bellingham golf course is dog friendly

Commented on

Your piece was one of the inspirations to my website www.doggolf.info (I cite you in the first post). Thanks.

Staff
Commented on

Good to hear. Best of luck with the new site. Let us know how we can help.

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Commented on

The biggest help would be to get guest posts from people golfing with their dogs at courses I haven't covered yet. The posts are course reviews, but describing the course mostly from the perspective on golfing with your dog (eg. how welcoming folks are, where is the water, how is the walk, is there distracting wildlife to be extra careful of). Thanks! http://doggolf.info/index.php/2017/09/11/guest-posts-by-dog-golfers-wanted/

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Commented on

I've recently found out that some courses in Italy allow dogs to accompany a player... so now I don't understand all the fuss I had to face when I was denied to take my well-behaved son along with me. They told me that, as my son was not enrolled in the golf federation, in case of an accident he would not have been insured; that is ok , but a dog is also not insured...

Commented on

Alligators and sharks are OK, though.

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Commented on

Golfing with dogs is popular at the finest courses in the UK - Wentworth, Turnberry, Muirfield, St. Andrews.  www.doggolf.info is the comprehensive resource for everything about it in Britain.

Staff
Commented on

Update: Poppy Hills GC in NoCal tells me via Twitter that:  @poppyhillsgc @BrandonTucker dog friendly as long as they stay on leash and are quiet while their owners are putting.

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Commented on

This game is hard enough now you want me to bring my dog next thing you know you'll be suggesting I take the wife along!!!! 

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Let the dogs out, already!