Golf courses in Marin County, Calif. are scoring points with customers who want to have canine companions accompany them on their rounds.
Two golf courses in Marin County, Calif. have gone to the dogs, reports the Marin Independent Journal. But that’s hardly a bad thing.
Both the Indian Valley Golf Club and San Geronimo Golf Course are enthusiastically embracing customers who wish to play a round with their canine companions, the newspaper reports.
“We tell people on the phone that we are a dog-friendly course,” said Steve Snyder, the head pro at Indian Valley. “We’ll even greet the dogs in the pro shop. All of us up here are dog people.”
“Most of our staff have dogs,” said Jennifer Kim, Executive Director at San Geronimo. “So we welcome dogs here. After all, dogs are part of the family. It’s better to let them accompany you on the course than to leave them home or even worse, in the car in the parking lot.”
That sentiment isn’t lost on regular players at either course. Lance Meade, a Stinson Beach, Calif. resident who has been bringing his Labrador companion, Phoebe, out to San Geronimo on a weekly — or better — basis for the past seven years, said “it’s like playing golf with my best friend.”
“She actually helps improve my game,” Meade said. “She makes me stay calm. I’m kind of impatient with slow play, but when I’m with her and the going is slow, I’ll sit down and pet her, and then pace of play is not a big deal.”
Another San Geronimo regular, Dan Norse of Inverness, Calif., brings out Lenny, a 3-year-old boxer-ridgeback mix who simply lives to stalk the fairways.
“This is his favorite place,” Norse said. “When we get [near the course], he begins to wag his tail and when we make the turn into the [San Geronimo] driveway, he’s really excited. He knows he’s going to have a good time.”
Meade and Phoebe were the first golfer-canine duo to hit the links at San Geronimo, and they were responsible for course management to agree to let other dog-human combos to play as well, the Independent Journal reports.
“Lance was the one who started it all out here,” said Chris Bright, the Assistant General Manager at San Geronimo, who also regularly plays golf with his dog, Eros. “[Phoebe] was so well-behaved that we thought that if other golfers had dogs as well-behaved it would be OK [to have a dog-friendly policy].”
“Phoebe broke the mold,” Meade added proudly.
At Indian Valley, Snyder, who has been working at the club for the past nine years, is not sure when the first dog accompanied a golfer on the course. “Indian Valley has been dog-friendly in all the time I’ve been here,” he said.
While both courses welcome pooches with open arms, there are some restrictions. “They have to be under your control at all times, though not necessarily leashed,” Snyder said. “And you have to clean up after them, whether they walk through a [sand] trap or make other kinds of messes.”
At San Geronimo, Kim said that dogs should be leashed at all times and that the golfer must pick up after the dog. “The only complaints we’ve had were about dogs who were off-leash,” Kim said. “Sometimes people don’t follow policy and let their dogs run free. If we get complaints about that, the dog must be put in the [golfer's] car or leashed to one of the [picnic] tables at the clubhouse. If we get multiple complaints, the dog will be banned. But that has never happened.”
Neither course is too worried that a dog-friendly policy will drive away customers. “It’s one more chance,” said Snyder, who’s never had any dog-related complaints, “to play a round of golf with your dog, guilt-free.”