Every Dog Has His Day

July 07, 2008

Don't be thinking golf has gone to the dogs without Tiger Woods, because the PGA Tour has been canine country for a while. Why, even Woods and wife Elin include among their clan Taz, a border collie, and Yogi, a labradoodle. Those lucky dogs will see everything in the world, except the inside of a flying petri dish, also known as a commercial airliner. But Tiger is just one of several players who owns pooches, or whose pooches might as well own them. These pets are fawned over as if they were children. Or else.

"Whenever the suitcases come out at home, Lucky starts getting frisky, looking for attention," says Jim Furyk. "What she really wants to know is whether she's making the road trip with us." Not to worry. When Furyk, Tabitha and their kids travel, Lucky joins the entourage. Love conquers all, including lack of pedigree. "We're not sure exactly what Lucky is other than 55 pounds and very playful," he says. "See this cut on my chin? It's not from shaving. It's from wrestling Lucky."

As a rule, golfers would rather buy clothing than cage their dog in the belly of a plane. But many of them fly privately, so separation at 35,000 feet is unnecessary. Also, players and their spouses or girlfriends routinely seek out hotels or rentals that are pet-friendly. "You would be surprised how many allow them," says Justin Leonard. "Or, if they don't, some places will make you pay a clean-up fee." As one wise guy nearby remarked, "If you're going to let writers in your rooms, why not a mutt?"

This affection for animals is in keeping with a trend that exists among celebrities who are free to move about the country. Barbara Walters claims to have had conversations with Cha-Cha, the surprise being not that Cha-Cha can talk but that Cha-Cha can understand Barbara. Nicolas Cage went to court to have overturned an accusation by Kathleen Turner that, after a few cocktails one night, he saw a chihuahua he liked and absconded with it in his coat pocket. (Those Hollywood folks are such a hoot.) Then there was Leona Helmsley, who died and left $12 million to her dog, Trouble.

"I don't have $12 million, and if I did, I don't think I'd leave it for Iris," says Lucas Glover. "What would a dog do with $12 million, anyway?" A solid gold fire hydrant, maybe? Glover and wife Jennifer, who don't have children yet, bond 24/7 with Iris, a miniature longhaired dachshund. "Spoiled rotten," he says. "Sleeps with us, eats with us, watches TV with us." Glover is demanding on himself and his game, but even he weakens when he leaves work and sees Iris wagging her miniature longhaired tail. "Hard to stay mad about golf when that happens," he says.

Those with mobile homes such as Zach and Kim Johnson needn't worry about where to take their animals, but even that changes when the boys of summer go abroad. In the United Kingdom everybody seems to have a dog, and it is not uncommon for recreational golfers to play a round with their four-legged friend in tow. That isn't quite in vogue here in the United States, although Corey Pavin occasionally will take Juicy off wife Lisa's hands and allow their Irish Jack Russell to tag along for a practice session. "Juicy might even go out and fetch some balls," he said. "Do you mean," Pavin was asked, "Juicy will run 300 yards to collect one of your drives?" Replied Pavin, "No, I mean Juicy will run 250 yards to collect one of my drives."

Daniel and Samantha Chopra rarely go anywhere without Cosmo, especially when the Pavins are around. "Cosmo and Juicy are the best of buddies," says Daniel. "Don't get any ideas," cautions Pavin, a veteran who praises the tour's child-care facilities on-site every week, but admits he never thought about requesting a similar program for dogs. "Maybe I'll take it up with Commissioner [Tim] Finchem," says Pavin. That might work for John and Heather Rollins, for whom cocker spaniel Abby is akin to another daughter. So it goes. Dogs are part of the family tree, particularly if they contain themselves long enough to find another tree.

"Of course, they have to be housebroken, or hotel-broken," says Leonard, who tours with wife Amanda, three tykes, and Sunday, a yellow lab. "Why Sunday?" Leonard says. "It's a great day. A day of worship, a day when you sometimes make some money. Sunday's great and very protective. She'll back off a maid trying to enter to clean up. And we might even adjust our plans for Sunday. Like Sunday, the day, is when you usually check out of a hotel. But what do you do with Sunday, the dog? Can't leave her there. One year in Akron I brought her to the course. The bomb dogs were there, and they had a blast. There are actual rooms at Firestone CC next to the locker room, so Sunday had her own for the afternoon. Took a nap while I played. Are you really writing about dogs on tour? Sorry, Sunday doesn't do interviews."