Bringing your dog to a golf course? Here’s what you need to know

Dog with golfer

Want to take your dog to a golf course but don’t know where to start? We have you covered…

The pet industry is booming: since 2002, the average annual growth rate for sales of pet-related products has been 5.4%, with revenues topping $70 billion for the first time in 2017.

At the same time, golf courses across the country have been facing declining numbers of players and have had to work hard to keep their tee sheets full. Popular trends like night golf or discounted rates for just playing a quick nine holes have helped prop up some struggling courses, but they’re always looking for new ways to attract more play.

There’s an oversupply of golf courses and an under-supply of golfers. And dogs are considered members of the family these days. So… put ‘em together and what do you get? Dog-friendly golf courses, of course.

While it’s not exactly happening enough to call it a trend, more and more courses are allowing golfers to bring their furry companions along on their “good walk spoiled.”

If you’re planning to bring your dog along, there are a few things you need to be prepared for. First, keep your dog leashed the entire time.

While you may consider your dog to be utterly charming and friendly, there are many people who don’t like dogs or may be afraid of dogs. Having a strange dog running up to them when they’re trying to enjoy a round of golf is not what they bargained for, so make sure you have consideration for the other golfers and leash your dog.

Even though you’ll be out in nature, you’ll still need to clean up after your dog. No one wants to go looking for the ball they sliced into the woods and step in a dogpile.

And make sure your pup is well-fed and has plenty of water, especially if it’s a hot day. If your dog is prone to barking, even just at squirrels or birds, it may be best to leave them at home. An ill-timed bark at the top of a golfer’s backswing could cause a hot-tempered golfer to flare up.

With all that in mind, here are a few courses in the US that will welcome your dog with open arms and wagging tails.

Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, Belgrade, ME

Belgrade Lakes is one of the best public courses that Maine has to offer. Deep in the rustic hills of central Maine, Belgrade Lakes makes the most of its beautiful landscape with holes naturally settling into the surrounding forests and hills. Sparkling lakes and bright white sand make for a picturesque, challenging jaunt. Hilltop greens offer endless panoramic views of the lush, rolling countryside.

And, of course, they’re dog-friendly. Perhaps the most dog-friendly course in the country, Belgrade Lakes doesn’t even have a leash requirement as long as your dog is trained to obey your voice commands. They say they’ve never had any issues with guests bringing their dogs along, and they even have a clubhouse pup who hangs around the golf shop to welcome guests with a wagging tail. 

My favorite holes here are the par 5s, like the 12th that crosses a ravine, and the 16th, with a majestic tee shot over a shimmering lake. Hit a good one and you’ll face a tough risk/reward second shot. Longer players can reach the green in two, but a smattering of difficult bunkers lie in wait. The layup is no bargain, often resulting in a difficult wedge shot from a sidehill lie. 

Golf dog guide

Discovery Bay Golf Course, Port Townsend, WA

Discovery Bay (formerly known as Chevy Chase) is a nearly 100-year-old golf course in a beautiful coastal setting in the Pacific Northwest. The panoramic views of the Cascade and Olympic mountains are unbelievable, and the Discovery Bay shimmers below the beautiful course. It’s a lovely course with surprisingly affordable rates, and they’re more than happy for you to bring your dog along. 

Discovery Bay features a covered driving range in case you’re looking to get some practice in when the weather’s not great. They also have lovely walking trails around the course’s perimeter, perfect for non-golfers who may be visiting the Olympic Peninsula and looking for a scenic setting for a nice long dog walk. 

The most unique feature of the course is an elevated wooden tee box that resembles a “‘hangman’s place of business’ only without the trap door.” Originally the tee box for a difficult par 3, it’s been preserved and converted into the teeing ground for the second hole. The course overall is relatively short, requiring you to keep your tee shots in play to avoid being trapped behind one of the towering evergreens that line the fairways. 

True Blue Golf Club, Pawleys Island, SC

Just a hop, skip and a jump from the golf mecca that is Myrtle Beach, True Blue Golf Club is a magnificent course that’s been featured on Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” list. It’s a must-play for anyone heading to Myrtle Beach whether you’re looking for a dog-friendly course or not! 

Gigantic sand areas surround tight, narrow, undulating greens. Dramatic elevation changes require clever shotmaking and reward bold play with birdie opportunities. The near-island-green 3rd hole sports a beautiful, deceptive figure-8 green that’ll challenge your shotmaking and require precise club selection. The fourth hole is essentially a u-turn that’ll have big hitters trying to bite off more than they may be able to chew. A prudent play off the tee results in a long, challenging second shot over water. But get too aggressive and you may find yourself having to re-tee.

As is the norm with most courses in the area, there are lots of water hazards so make sure you bring plenty of balls. Or train your dog to fetch them out of lakes! True Blue was designed to emulate the best features of the legendary courses Pinehurst #2 and Pine Valley, and it’s quite successful in delivering a beautiful and difficult but, ultimately, fun and fair challenge.

While these are just a few of the best courses that currently allow dogs, there are more out there. And if you’re really interested in bringing your dog along, call the golf shop and ask if it’ll be OK. The more calls they get, the more likely they’ll be to implement a dog-friendly policy.