More golf courses in Canada going to the dogs

The next time you head out for a round of golf, you may want to bring along more than just your clubs. A leash and some poop bags could also come in handy.

Dogs join owners for a walk, round of golf

Paul McGinley and his dog Febe at Sunningdale Golf Club, Surrey. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The next time you head out for a round of golf, you may want to bring along more than just your clubs. A leash and some poop bags could also come in handy.

Canadians can now bring along their dogs to a growing number of courses across the country. At the moment, there are clubs in B.C., Alberta and Ontario with dog-friendly policies.

While the trend may be new here, it's common in Europe. For instance, Sunningdale Golf Club in England allows dogs.

The idea of dogs on the course intrigued Chris McNicol. He's the executive director of Woodside Golf Course in Airdrie, Alberta. It's the latest Canadian course to allow dogs. McNicol said he recently attended a golf conference in Europe that opened his eyes to the possibilities here.

"In Europe, dogs on a golf course is a very common thing, and as it is, Europeans seem to be ahead of us in a lot of respects when it comes to their pets," he said. "I mean, you can take your dog into a restaurant in Europe so... as a result of that, we looked at it and started to do some studying."

That studying led them to Predator Ridge Resort in Vernon, B.C., the first course in Canada to allow dogs. Now, Woodside is piloting the idea by having members bring their pooches along on Sundays after 4:00 p.m.

McNicol said there were a dozen dogs on the course recently without any issues. The rules are simple: keep your pet on a leash, pick up after them, and make sure they aren't disrupting other golfers.

There are marshals on the course to ensure the pets aren't making too much noise. But that doesn't mean members don't have their concerns.

McNicol explained some members are worried that dogs peeing on the course will ruin the grass, but that's not something he's concerned about. 

"I've probably seen more guys pee on this golf course than I have dogs. And generally when a dog pees on your golf course he's peeing on a tree... it's not like he's stopping in the middle of the fairway to pee," he said. 

This all may sound a little ridiculous, but dogs are a big part of our lives now. An Ipsos-Reid survey of over a 1000 Canadians found that more than one third of households have a dog.

And McNicol said that golf, a sport that is slow to change, needs to keep up with trends like that if it wants to remain relevant.

"It's good to see the game pushed. You've seen in the last few years dress codes changing, you've seen some stuff lightening up. And as much as we need to protect some of the traditions of the game, we also need to grow it and welcome some new people into the game," he said.  

"And this is just one of those things that does that."

McNicol said this new pet policy will be reassessed in the fall to see what more they'd like to do with it. And with calls coming in from courses across the country, he expects more clubs to adopt the policy.