What Is a 'Dog Track' in Golf?

"Dog track" is a derogatory term for a golf course that is in poor condition. If a golf course operator, director of golf, head pro or superintendent hears their golf course referred to as a dog track, they will be deeply insulted.

Dogs on golf courses — at least those that ride in the golf cart next to their owner, or that accompany the superintendent around the course — are usually thought of as good things. (There is a long tradition of golf course dogs within the superintendent community.) But "dog track" is not something any golf course wants to be associated with.

If you've ever owned both a house with a backyard and a dog that loved to run around in that backyard, then you know what the term "dog track" literally refers to: those paths in the grass that are worn by the dog's constant running. That's a dog track, or a dog run.

When applied to a golf course, the term means that the golf course's holes look like something worn into the grass by the running of dogs. "This course doesn't even look manicured, it's just a dog track," a golfer might complain.

The term "dog track" doesn't tell you anything about the quality of the golf course's routing (layout), only the conditions. The holes on a dog track course might be very interesting and fun to play if the golf course was in good shape. But a dog track course is not in good shape, which is the whole point of the term.

Similar terms are goat track and rabbit run, and they all mean the same thing: a golf course that is in bad shape.

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