Fergus a wayward golfer’s best friend

Any way you slice it, golf balls are going to go missing from time to time.

But the good news is if you have lost a ball on the Cromwell golf course lately, the chances are Fergus has it.

Golden Labrador Fergus prepares to catch one of the golf balls he and his ball carrier Doug...
Golden Labrador Fergus prepares to catch one of the golf balls he and his ball carrier Doug Harradine have collected at the Cromwell Golf Club recently. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The 4-year-old Golden Labrador has sniffed out and retrieved more than 1050 golf balls from the course since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown last year.

And the number continues to grow.

Owner and former Golf Otago chief executive officer Doug Harradine said Fergus was "addicted" to fetching golf balls.

"I’ve worked and played golf here forever and we live beside the golf course here in Cromwell.

"Initially, when I got him as a pup, I used to take him for a walk on the course and kick around a few practice balls, just to run the energy out of him.

"He would chase them and pick them up and bring them back.

"Then suddenly, we discovered that quite often, if we were walking near some long grass, he would wander in, stick his nose in and come back with a lost one.

"I encouraged that with usual dog training by giving him a treat here and there, and telling him what a clever boy he was.

"Now he’s just become addicted to it."

Mr Harradine said Fergus’ record was retrieving 30 golf balls in 15 minutes.

"As quick as I could get them out of his mouth, he was back in looking for another one."

Fergus has become so proficient and well known in the golfing community that players have started contacting Mr Harradine, asking him and Fergus to find expensive balls they have lost.

Fortunately, Fergus is not interested in balls sitting on the fairways or the greens.

He only collects lost balls from the rough in the evenings, after the players have finished for the day.

Fergus is not the first dog to collect golf balls at the course.

In the 1940s and 1950s, a dog called Sailor also did it.

"They actually named one of the holes on the golf course after him because he became so famous locally."

Mr Harradine said he was not cheeky enough to take the balls to the golf club and try to sell them back to players.

Instead, he would return the identifiable balls to their owners and the rest would be sold to raise funds for junior golf.



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