While it’s true more business are welcoming pets than ever before, it seems there are endless opportunities for the trend to expand. Why shouldn’t an old movie theatre struggling to compete with the multiplexes have a dog friendly show once a week? And wouldn’t indoor malls attract more shoppers if they could bring their pooches along?
It’s not easy to swim against the current, and that’s why it’s so exciting to find business owners who dismiss convention and go pet friendly! If you own or work in a business that doesn’t currently allow pets, we hope today’s interview with Margie from Belgrade Lakes Golf Club gives you reason to reconsider your policy.
Margie, please tell us a little bit about the course.
We a nationally recognized golf course – Golf Magazine’s top 100 public courses, five star rating from Golf Digest, #1 course in Maine – and we focus on providing an exceptional experience for all of our guests. Being pet-friendly is one more way we can meet the needs of our golfers and ensure that they have a memorable visit. to Belgrade Lakes Golf Club.
What made you decide to make the golf course pet friendly?
We love dogs. Since we are a public access golf club not a private facility, we tend to get quite a few guests who are on vacation and traveling. Early on we had a handful of golfers who would arrive with their dogs and we would “doggysit” in the proshop. We also, God forbid, found a dog left in a car while the owners were golfing. We realized two things: people who travel with pets generally have very well behaved and socialized dogs (GPF Note: remember, she hasn’t met Buster and Ty, yet!), and there were people who would love to golf at our facility but couldn’t leave their pets unattended in rentals, RV parks or hotel rooms. That’s when we started to actively advertise that we are pet-friendly and are happy to have the dogs join their family on the golf course.
Do you think being pet friendly has helped or hurt your business?
We have not experienced any problems by allowing dogs on the course. Owners love having their dogs with them, and are very respectful about picking up after their pets and not allowing rough-housing on the greens or other delicate turf areas. We probably receive more positive emails and comments about being pet-friendly than for any other detail on our course.
How common is it that people bring their dogs along? (How many dogs do you see each week?)
Typically, we have one or two pets per week. Of course, our own dogs are here at the course all day!
What are the rules for dogs on the course? Are they allowed in the golf carts?
Dogs are definitely allowed in the carts. We ask owners to make sure that their dog is under their control (if that means they can be off leash, no problem), that they pick up after the dog, and no running on the greens, because their claws can mark up the turf.
What’s the funniest thing a dog’s ever done on the course?
It usually takes four hours to complete a round of golf, so we don’t see the dog or owner except when they pass the club house at holes 9 and 10. There are ponds there and it sometimes takes some serious convincing to keep the dogs from going for a swim and jumping back into the golf cart. Most dogs are quite tired after their round of golf!
Are there any dog treats on the refreshment/snack cart?
Not on the cart, but we do have dog treats in the pro shop for any doggy friends that may stop in.
Have any of the golfers used their dogs to locate lost balls or “help” them into the hole?
Actually, chasing a golf ball is the biggest hassle about having a dog with you. The owners who have dogs that chase balls usually don’t bring them a second time. For our own dogs, this is rule number one that we have to teach our dogs as puppies or else they wouldn’t be able to be around the course all day. It’s difficult for our Labrador retrievers, but eventually they all learn what is acceptable! (GPF Note: So, this activity may be better for Ty than Buster. Ty’s never chased a ball in his life. I wonder if his bed would fit on the golf cart …)
Belgrade Lakes Golf Club is set in the rustic woodlands and panoramic hills of central Maine. Designed by acclaimed architect Clive Clark, this course uses it most valuable asset—the idyllic landscape—to its utmost advantage. In addition to an award-winning layout rivaling any of the country’s best, Belgrade Lakes offers country club level service, blended with authentic Maine accessibility. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and say hi … and don’t forget to scratch the dogs!
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