George McCoy serves as a volunteer course marshal at the New Mexico State University golf course with the able assistance of his dog, Kelly.
Written and photography by Susie Ouderkirk
The NMSU Golf Course employs 25 staff taking of everything from scheduling tee times, to running the pro shop and restaurant, managing the greens, marketing the course, and teaching lessons. Khaki-clad staff can be found diligently working to keep the University’s golf course—one of only four in Las Cruces— in the ideal condition for area links lovers.
Perhaps the most unexpected staff member is Kelly, and she runs herd as a marshal early in the mornings. Kelly has no practical golf experience to speak of, and she never gets paid for her work. She does, however, take her job seriously.
Did I mention Kelly is a dog? The four-year-old Australian Shepherd assists her owner, volunteer course marshal George McCoy, and has become a fixture at the course.
“She’s a happy little dog and she loves everyone,” says George of Kelly, who was born on his grandson’s ranch in Nevada. “People always like to see her and they ask about her when she’s not with me.”
Dogs at the Golf Course: Yes or No?
Golf courses are not traditionally known as substitute dog parks; in fact, most courses resolutely forbid dogs on the course. But life in Las Cruces is different from anywhere else, and “alternative” rules often apply to better serve our city’s unique and eclectic population.
NMSU Golf Course Manager Jason White admits that, theoretically, only service dogs are allowed on the course, but, “A few golfers do bring dogs.” And he’s totally fine with that.
“We see owners bringing their dogs on the driving range more than on the course itself,” Jason says. “There’s plenty of water available around the driving range, so that’s helpful.”
Several golfers bring their lap dogs with them as they drive golf carts around the championship 18-hole course.
“As long as the dogs are well behaved and don’t run around and bother other golfers, then I have no problem,” Jason says. Of course, common courtesy includes picking up after your dog. No exceptions.
PGA of America Membership Representative Dustin Bitter of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, explains: “There is a Rules of Golf book through the USGA for competitive golf rules but I do not know of any rules specific to dogs on the course. Each golf course has an owner who determines the policies and rules at their respective facility.”
The New Mexico State University Course is the only one in Las Cruces that has a dog-friendly policy. The other courses in the area don’t swing that way.
The main mission at the NMSU course is, “providing students with employment opportunities related to their course of study: PGA golf management, HRTM and turf grass management…we employ 30 to 40 students depending on the time of the year,” Jason says.
To Bring Your Dog or Not?
NMSU Course Manager Jason can’t turn the course into a doggie day-care, but golfers can contact him and discuss each situation individually.
“We will consider dogs on a case-by-case basis,” he says.
Legendary golfer Sam Snead who boasted 165 professional wins between 1931 and 1987, was known to bring his Golden Retriever, Meister, on the course with him for company.
Kelly has been accompanying George for four years, and has been very well behaved in her role as unofficial goodwill ambassador and assistant course marshal.
George admits, “It’s kind of boring when she’s not here.”
NMSU Golf Course
3000 Herb Wimberly Drive, Las Cruces
Hours: Open to the public 7 days a week; tee times
range from approximately 6:30am to 6pm.
The driving range closes at 7 pm.
For the safety and courtesy of other golfers, please contact Jason and his team at the NMSU Golf Course for permission before bringing your pooch along.
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