Clay DuBose’s two kids were scared to death of dogs, and the golf course superintendent figured the best way to correct the problem was to get them one of their own.
“We decided to get a dog we knew would be friendly,” DuBose said of the decision to buy a Labrador retriever. “I’ll never forget, they cried when we told them we were on our way to get (a dog), and a few minutes later they were lying on the ground and the dog was lapping them up. She has been wonderful fit.”
Nine years later, Birdie, DuBose’s yellow lab, has proven to be an ideal fit as a golf course dog, too.
DuBose didn’t buy Birdie with the idea of bringing her to the course, but she almost immediately started going to work with him, a routine that continues to this day.
She eats at the maintenance building every morning and begins running the course at TPC Myrtle Beach between 6:30 – 6:45 a.m. You read that right, Birdie runs the course because she refuses to ride in a golf cart.
“She has the drill down,” DuBose said of Birdie’s routine. “She just follows me. She chases squirrels and geese … She might fall 100 yards behind but she knows where to go.”
Birdie underwent obedience training as a puppy and continues to listen well, but the training was never able to correct her one bad habit: she runs in front of the golf cart, nipping at its tires.
When Birdie is ready to run she barks, spins in circles, and generally dares the cart to catch her. The only remedy the trainer could suggest was to outrun her.
It’s a mission DuBose has mostly fulfilled, but Birdies’ propensity to flirt with moving carts has led to problems, the most serious of which occurred several years ago at Tradition Club.
“She was young and we were doing our morning routine and I’ll never forget it,” DuBose said. “We were riding along No. 3 and I was looking to the left. I thought she was behind me. Thankfully, I wasn’t going very fast. She has this thing where she spins when she is front of you, and when she spun I drove over her. She squealed and her ankle was bleeding but she kept running into the pond. I tried to get her into the cart but as soon as I tried to take off, she hopped out and started running again, obviously injured. She ran the whole way back to the shop.”
Fortunately, Birdie “only” suffered torn ligaments, which required surgery. That was the most serious injury she has incurred, but it hasn’t stopped her from running in front of the cart.
DuBose still needs to get in front of her, leaving Birdie, sporting her Golf Course Superintendents Association collar, to run nearly four miles each morning before returning to the maintenance building for a nap. She heads home each evening to greet the family and then, like the rest of us, often puts herself to bed early knowing work comes early the next day.