Charlie and the case of the disappearing golf balls

by Deborah Mead

This story is part of our 'Embarrassing Golf Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by ThunderChild5.


Langness can be a desolate place. When the sea mist rolls in  - Mananan’s Cloak as legend would have it, drawn down by Mananan, the mythical magician, God and first ruler of man, to prevent invaders discovering and attacking the Isle of Man - this peninsula located at the south east of the island is damp, cold and bleak. The patchwork of heather and gorse criss-crossed by ancient paths leading to the sea in almost every direction, the only sounds the screeching of the gulls above and the crashing of the waves against the rocky shores.

On a sunny day, however, the landscape transforms into a carpet of brilliant yellows and purples. A three dimensional mosaic of flora and fauna – the home of infinite numbers of rabbits - it is a dog’s paradise.

Originally an island, the long promontory became joined to the mainland of the Isle of Man many centuries ago. At one end lies the hamlet of Derbyhaven, at the other the Castletown Golf Links Hotel.

Charlie the black Labrador adored Langness – the chance to run for miles unrestricted by his lead, endless opportunities to leap into the sparkling waters and to chase a never-ending supply of rabbits. The problem for his owner (me) was that to get to this piece of doggy heaven meant crossing the golf course - the Championship golf course.

Charlie of course, like any half-intelligent dog, knew only too well where he was going before he got there and, as a Labrador who considered himself to be human, he behaved like any other five year old boisterous boy let loose – e.g. badly!

As we all know, golfers take their game seriously – deals are done, monies wagered, sporting reputations upheld or destroyed with every stroke of the club. Try explaining that to a five year old!

For him, navigating the golf course was just an added adventure on his walk. A credit to his breed, Charlie the Labrador Retriever did exactly that – any golf ball, moving or static, was a target. Time after time, day after day, the air was filled with the cries of angry golfers, clubs waved furiously, as Charlie raced across the Links in search of their small white balls.

His hearing, normally so acute when tins of dog food were lifted or the word ‘walk’ mentioned even from a thousand paces, became non-existent as soon as the car door was opened. A flash of black disappearing in the distance only to return seconds later with a mouthful of golf balls.

Of course like any proud parent I always hoped that Charlie’s behaviour would not show me up in public, but my embarrassment was complete the day a member of the local constabulary stopped me and "made inquiries" about my dog. It was all done in a humorous vein but after that it was time to find somewhere else to explore... Which brings to mind the Mysterious Case of the Fireman’s Missing Sandwiches – now that is another story.

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