Dogs on the course: A Head Greenkeepers perspective

We spoke to Mark Widdop, Head Greenkeeper at Bradley Park GC about his perspective on having dogs on golf courses both as greenkeepers and golfers’ companions. Mark has been taking Buddy to work with him for several years and he reflects on the benefits of having his canine companion with him on a daily basis.

“In my opinion, head greenkeepers and course managers should be allowed dogs on the golf course. Buddy is an 8-year-old Border Collie and has been coming to work with me from the age of four months. Training Buddy not to chase golf balls or go in bunkers was very easy and is essential. Both golf courses that I have worked at have been happy for Buddy to be in the workplace, however if it was not allowed I would not be a dog owner. I am not a fan of dogs being left at home all day while owners are out of the house. I have seen that this has led to dog owners saying the dogs are misbehaving – when actually the dog is just under-stimulated and not exercised enough.”

Mark justified his opinion further: “Buddy is a fantastic companion that has helped me through some tough times at my previous golf course. It is well documented that dogs help with stress, anxiety and mental health problems. I can certainly verify that Buddy helped me through some stressful times in my previous employment. All the team at both my current golf course and my previous course, love having Buddy around and most members and visiting golfers always want to say hello. They all have a smile on their faces when they see him by my side and offer positive comments when I have chance to stop and chat.”

Becoming a head greenkeeper takes time and a lot of hard work – it is a very rewarding career if the passion is there. Every job should have its perks and this, in my opinion, is one of the head greenkeepers.

Finally, Mark gave his perspective on golfers bringing dogs on the course: “Personally, I don’t see a problem with golfers bringing well-behaved dogs onto the golf course – out of competitive play that is! The dog must be on a lead, kept out of bunkers, off the greens and obviously cleaned up after.”

Article by James Kimmings

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