The Dog who finds golf balls

  • November 13, 2019

Completely barking mad, that's what makes us love them really. They eat, they bark, they run around and entertain us with their eccentricities, all usually in the name of reward or a dog biscuit as it usually tends to be.

I have always been impressed by well trained dogs, whether that is an eagle-eyed border collie rounding up sheep or a measured and dependable Labrador guiding the less able sighted through their daily chores. It always brings a smile to my face seeing human and canine life in perfect harmony.

Over the New Year holiday, my human/canine sense of wellbeing was well and truly catapulted into near jealous adoration. I was enjoying a cheeky round of golf, everything was as normal, some shots making me feel like Tiger but the majority relating more to the late Barry Chuckle. On my local course I particularly fear the 5th hole, a wonderfully straight par 4 that is not overly long, however it borders a river from tee to green. Water is like a magnet to golf balls belonging to medium/high handicappers like me, getting past it without sending your ball to a watery grave brings on a great sense of wellbeing and on this bright January morning, for a change wellbeing was on the menu for me...which is more than could be said for my 11-year-old son Tommy's ball. My son will surpass me as the family's best golfer sometime probably in the next 24 months, but for now, I like to assert my sporting ascendancy and give him all the advice that only a high handicapper dad can. I was busy handing down my expertise in how caution can be the better part of valour for us mere golfing mortals and how that river will cost him a fortune in balls if nothing else (being an 11 year old, he only plays with expensive balls, nothing but the best will do) when I heard a familiar voice coming from the far bank of said blasted river. The voice was coming from Jimmy, a chap I know vaguely through some friends. He's a big country gent and spends a great deal of time walking his dogs, usually around the golf course. Jimmy wasn't shouting to me, he was shouting across to my son to "wait there, the dogs will get it back". Sure enough, on his command the dogs both jumped in and headed to where the ball had dribbled in. A whole lot of frenzied splashing later and the dogs were both back with Jimmy and dropping a golf ball each at his feet. Jimmy being the gent he is, chucked both balls across to my son, I laughed and said, "don't show him that, he'll be wanting a golf ball retriever for his birthday" and waited for Tommy to show some appreciation of coming out of the water one ball up. To my mild embarrassment Tommy was shouting back to Jimmy, "these aren't mine I only play ChromeSoft and these are Pinnacles", Jimmy just laughed, "there's plenty in there son, let’s see what we can get". In and out went the dogs over a period of seven or eight minutes, out came some Dunlops, Srixons, Taylormades, Nikes, Bridgestones, Wilsons and eventually one dripping wet ChromeSoft. Jimmy chucked Tommy his ball and bagged the rest, "I'll get a few bucks for these" said Jimmy and with a friendly wave he was off up the river to the less lucrative areas where even someone of my lesser talents shouldn't be putting the ball.

Now I can seriously say I was impressed, dogs who enjoy retrieving river and pond bound golf balls, absolute genius. Even if they brought out 100 Dunlops before a decent ChromeSoft, I would never tire of watching them splashing around and efficiently locating golf balls and bringing them back to their master for reincarnation with no a no doubt clumsy high handicapper. In fact, if the dogs were mine, I would no doubt soon be playing with an assortment of a cheapo water rescued balls, it wouldn't really matter as I have no aspiration to be a great golfer, I know my limitations. Tommy, however, was not so impressed. In the literal mind of an 11-year-old, this feat of canine brilliance was all a bit of a waste of time! "Can Jimmy train them to only get decent balls?" he asked with youthful nativity. Whilst I chuckled to myself, I did explain that dogs aren't golfers and therefore may find it a little difficult to recognise which is a good ball and which is a not so good ball.

Days after this chilly and entertaining round of golf (for those who care, Tommy beat me 3&2) I started to draw the analogies between the seemingly disconnected worlds of canine river golf ball retrieval and IT Recruitment. It may not be as farfetched as it seems.

As recruiters, we are effectively dogs off in search of golf balls that will get us reward from our paymasters. If we don't know what we are looking for, i.e. just the first golf ball that we find, then we will have to retrieve quite a lot of balls before we get lucky and find the ones our paymasters are after, and it will be they who have to filter through the dross and damaged balls to find the good ones. If on the other hand, in a bizarre parallel world, dogs could play golf, they would then know what the best balls to find would be and how to check for them. Dogs who can tell which balls to retrieve, now that really would be something wouldn't it?

Des Scanlan IT Recruitment - using my 25 years of IT Delivery experience to ensure you have only the best golf balls in your bag!