Golf’s golden re­triever

Jess, a 13-year-old col­lie, has a habit of col­lect­ing golf balls... lots of them!

Today's Golfer (UK) - - First Tee -

Golf can be ex­pen­sive, when you fac­tor in the cost of clubs, green fees and balls. But for one player, his big­gest ex­pense is dog bis­cuits! Barry Gell, of Dun­fermline, Fife, re­wards his col­lie Jess with a treat every time she finds a golf ball. That may not seem like much, but she’s fetched more than 53,000 since 2005 – an av­er­age of 12 a day! Gell ad­mits it’s saved him “a fortune”. The only hitch is find­ing some­where to store them all...

I got her in May 2005 and started train­ing her in July. I kept throw­ing golf balls in the long rough for her to find. By the third day, she was dig­ging in the heavy rough on the Struie course [at Royal Dornoch]. She came up with a Uniroyal golf ball. It was brown on top, black un­der­neath and split in the mid­dle. It must have been there for 20 years. And that was it; away she went. Between then and Oc­to­ber, she picked up 1,405 balls.

If a course has been busy, I can come back from a round with 50 balls in my bag. Last year, at Can­more Golf Club, she found 6,227 balls. She’s now col­lected 53,101 in to­tal. I get rid of most of them, but I don’t make money. I keep the ladies and se­nior sec­tion go­ing at Can­more. I do­nate a lot to char­ity shops, but they can’t give them away quick enough. I’ve got a load on the bed in the spare room, and there’s a bag­ful in the back of my car and between the seats.

If there’s a ball in two feet of wa­ter, she’ll go down and get it. She digs six feet into the ground some­times. I’ve seen her go into the rough and pick up 30 balls. It’s crazy. I’ve got a cou­ple of balls which one of the mem­bers at Can­more reck­ons are worth over £100 apiece be­cause they were made in 1906. She’s saved me a fortune. If she sees a ball go­ing in the rough, she’ll stand over it and wait for you to come over. But if you ig­nore her, she’ll pick it up and drop it on the fair­way. We’ve now got a rul­ing in our se­niors group that if she finds your ball and drops it out, you play it as it lies. No penalty.

I used to have two other dogs, but they were more in­ter­ested in rab­bits. One was a white Al­sa­tian called Zeus and when my wife and I were putting, Zeus would stand by the hole and if my wife’s ball was go­ing in, he would tap it with his nose and stop it dead. He must have thought she was strug­gling to get down and pick the ball out of the hole.

Jess started bring­ing me two balls at a time once. But she re­alised that she was still only get­ting one bis­cuit, so she stopped that quite quickly!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.