Golf has a history with dogs that dates to the origins of the game in Scotland. In the United States, we've been a little slower to adapt dogs into our golf culture, at least as we play the game. Superintendents and golf professionals, though, have realized that work can be so much more enjoyable with a friendly pup in tow. We couldn't agree more.
These are a selection of our favorite golf dogs we've encountered over the past couple months. Thanks to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America for the help.
C.C. of Winter Haven (Fla.): Keira, black lab, age 9
Kyle Johnson (superintendent, pictured): "I got her when she was a pup from the humane society in Atlanta. She has spent her entire life on a golf course—she goes to work with me whenever I go in. She is great on the golf course with chasing nuisance birds, as well as playing with the staff. She is greatly beneficial to the staff because they always bring her treats and she keeps a smile on their faces."
Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wis.: Carly, Aussiedoodle, age 8
Christopher Zugel (superintendent, pictured): "Carly loves to antagonize the many geese at Whistling Straits. Carly comes out in the afternoons after golfers have played through. While she loves to play with geese, they don’t share the same feelings! Being part Australian Shepherd, she is always looking to herd something, meaning you can always find her right at your heels."
Minneapolis Golf Club, St. Louis Park, Minn.: Gear, Border Collie, age 3
From Assistant Superintendent Tom Herzog: "Gear arrived at Minneapolis Golf Club last summer after we lost our first border collie, Zip, to cancer at age 12 in 2017. Both Gear and Zip were trained by Kuykendall’s Border Collies in Franklinville, N.C.
"MGC had a huge goose problem by the fall of 2006, with large flocks making a mess on greens, tees, fairways and cartpaths. After years of failed attempts using other options, MGC went the route of a trained Border Collie. Zip did such an amazing job, that future members and employees would comment, 'Why do we have a goose dog? We don’t have a goose problem!' Zip quickly became a favorite among the members and was a moral boost to the grounds crew staff every day as well."
The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe (Calif).: Vader, Pitbull/Lab mix, age 2
From superintendent Pat Ferriter: "You can always find Vader down in the maintenance area. His favorite pastime at The Bridges is to chase birds and rabbits, and he loves coming to work every day and running the course first thing in the morning."
Holiday Island C.C. (Ark.): Ozark, "super mutt"
From superintendent Jonathan Prange: "Ozark is the coolest dog on the planet. He's 26 percent Australian Shepherd, 24 percent Labrador retriever, 23 percent beagle, 11 percent golden retriever, and 15 percent an unidentifiable super mutt. Ozark's unique markings and marbled eyes, coupled with the brains of an Aussie and the demeanor of a Labrador, make him the perfect sidekick on the course. He's trained to stay off the greens and out of the bunkers."
Deerpath Golf Club, Lake Forest, Ill.: Chief, Australian Blue Heeler, age 1 1/2
From superintendent Kyle Wiebenga: "My sidekick is named after the mascot at the University of Illinois"
Kenwood C.C., Cincinnati, Ohio: Crosby, German Shorthaired Pointer, age 5
From superintendent Kent Turner: "To protect Crosby's eyes from the sun as well as brush that he might run into, he wears RecSpecs. Crosby's speed is a topic of conversation, and members often ask how far and fast the dog runs in a day. One day, we put a Fitbit on the collar and Crosby clocked 12.6 miles in the first hour of work! Crosby is loved by all club members and even has his own hat, apparel and golf accessories line."
Knickerbocker C.C., Tenafly, N.J.: Clover, Golden Irish, age 2
From head professional Bill Hook: "Clover loves nothing more than heading to Knickerbocker to greet the members as they come through the pro shop door. She can typically be found lounging behind the pro shop putting green enjoying the company of the golfers as they roll a few putts prior to their round. When not at work, Clover is her happiest when she gets to head out on the water for a refreshing dip."
Turtle Creek Golf Course, Limerick, Pa.: Nittany, border collie, age 4
From owner Lisa Waltz: "Managing the geese, touring the fairways and greeting golfers are all in a day's work and a dream job for Nittany. After hours, she likes to relax in the living room, watching Penn State football or playing with the squeaker in her latest Bark Box. Nittany's dad, John Welsh, is the superintendent at Turtle Creek Golf. He and Nittany are a perfect team and can be seen most days running about the course."
The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, Tower, Minn.: Boomer, yellow lab
He’s the sidekick of superintendent, Vince Dodge.
Pound Ridge Golf Club (N.Y.): Dove, border collie
Superintendent Will Heintz (above) with his dog, Dove.
Forest Hills C.C., Chesterfield, Mo.: Bogey, 3/4 Corgi, 1/4 Australian Shepherd, age 4
Kolby Armbruster, assistant superintendent: "Don't let those short legs fool ya: He can run for days! Bogey brings a lot of smiles and laughs to the crew in the mornings, as well as the members when around the pro shop."
Purgatory Golf Club, Noblesville, Ind.: Callaway, Golden Doodle
From superintendent Jon Schriner: "Callaway is an unbelievably loyal companion. His favorite thing in the world is coming to the club in the morning and then riding shotgun with me as we go around the golf course doing our daily tasks. His biggest fault may be that he thinks every golfer wants to say hi to him as much as he wants to greet them."
Whisper Creek Golf Club, Huntley, Ill.: Tank, Greater Swiss Mountain dog, age 5
From Andy Weadge, superintendent: "Tank is an incredible social dog that loves attention from our golfers and boosts crew morale. He annoys our goose population with afternoon cannonballs into the pond."
Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog), La Romana, Dominican Republic: Charlie, Dachshund poodle mix
Charlie pictured here with superintendent Jorge Jimenez.
Sutton Creek Golf Course, Ontario: Maverick, Australian Shepherd, 1 1/2 years old
Jessica Aytoun, course superintendent: "I have three dogs—Niko, Shelby and Maverick (pictured)— that I bring to the course, but usually only one comes out with me. They alternate days. We are all on a tight schedule around our house and at the course, which keeps everything super organized. I have to keep an extra eye on Maverick: He's the youngest and doesn't have a care or fear in the world; not goose, fox or otherwise."
Reston National (Va.) Golf Course, Midas, age 3
From superintendent Jake Valentino: “Midas is a rescue and has been patrolling the golf course grounds for 3 years. He has learned all of the avenues of the course and can quickly chase down any wildlife and deter them from the playing areas. Midas can been seen from all around the golf course on a daily basis running and enjoying his time at work.”
Oakland Hills C.C., Bloomfield Hills, Mich.: Clementine, daisy dog, age 2 1/2
From golf service manager Bob Byerlein: "This is Clementine’s second season working with The First Tee staff at Oakland Hills. She greets all members before and after their round at the window! Clementine is from a specialized breeder in Grand Rapids, Mich. They are people dogs and have a human quality to them as they act more like humans than dogs! She likes golfers and especially when they come bearing treats!"
Pearland Golf Club (Texas): Ryder, Staffordshire terrier, age 2
From superintendent Brandon Zerface: "Ryder has grown up with me on the course and comes with me to work every day. He actually makes an 86-mile round-trip commute to work as well."
Indian Springs C.C., Broken Arrow, Okla.: Dutch (above), German Shepherd; and Sawyer, Pyrenees mix
From superintendent David Jones: "They both come to work with me every day, and they enjoy it very much, but I would have to say I enjoy it much more. When they get out on the course, they seem to be smiling when they are in the cart or chasing squirrels or geese."
Orchard Valley Golf Course, Aurora, Ill.: Keith, border collie, age 1 1/2
From superintendent Dan McDonald: "Keith has been coming to Orchard Valley since he was 8 weeks old. He helps maintain the course by chasing off the geese, which in turn cuts down on the time needed to blow off or fix spots on greens. Watching Keith grow, learn and interact with the players is an enjoyable experience for me. He is popular among the guests; everyone wants to stop and pet him and inquire about how he is doing."
The Orchards Golf Course, Milford Conn., Brody, black lab, age 5
From Timothy Mars, superintendent: "I have two dogs who love to prep the course with me: Brody is a male black lab, and Baylee is a 2-year-old female chocolate lab. We watch every sunrise together."
Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center in Greensboro, N.C.: Joker (left)
From Kevin Smith, CGCS, who now works at Tama Hills G.C. in Tokyo: "When I started work at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center in Greensboro, N.C., in 2003 there was a significant Canada goose population on the property. After little success with various noisemakers and other deterrents, my family acquired an Australian Shepherd puppy, and we named her Izzy. It wasn't long before she was going to the course with me and began to realize how happy I would get when she would chase the geese. A few years later she gave birth to a litter of 10, and we soon had three full-time goose dogs on the 500+ acre site. Pretty soon, I became known as the guy with the dogs. Unfortunately, here in Japan, there are no Canada geese. But Joker, the surviving member of the trio, loves to chase the gangster crows that sometimes harass our customers."