One of the many things I enjoy about living in California is the ability to play golf anytime of year. Having lived most of my life in the northeast United States, golf season was a time to cherish for it only lasted six or seven months at the most.
Northeast golfers could only rely on a winter vacation in a warmer climate or an indoor driving range during the months from November through April to get their golf fix.
But in California, golf is open for business every day. If I didn’t have to work for a living, I’d be on a golf course every day.
When I’m not working, I try to play golf or watch real golfers play on television. Needless to say, I spend the entire Easter Sunday afternoon watching the final round of the Masters.
I’ve played many courses in the San Joaquin Valley. I could tell you which ones I enjoy the most. But I think there’s a much more interesting story about a mascot at a course in northwest Fresno.
Cassie is a three-year old collie acquired by the manager of Islewood Golf Course as a puppy. Cassie was brought on to the course to keep the geese away. Geese, and more to the point, geese droppings, are considered a hazard to golfers.
Cassie has done her job very well. The only geese I see when I play this five-hole course are those swimming in the natural ponds that shoot off the San Joaquin River that border the course.
But Cassie has done much more than just keep an eye on the waterfowl. She has endeared herself to at least one golfer. That would be me.
She greets me upon my arrival. She doesn’t express herself like an excited pug. She doesn’t bark like a roused up dachshund. And she doesn’t follow me around like a lost mutt. But I know she likes me.
Cassie just acknowledges my presence, then observes as I greet her owner, pay for my round, and head off to the first tee.
She’s there when I finish. Again, she doesn’t overdo anything. She is a working dog and she needs to follow her natural instincts and search for geese.
Cassie has warmed up to me in the past few years I’ve been squeezing in a round at Islewood. I think I’m more anxious to see her than she is to see me.
I’ve never had a dog to call my own. Growing up, I gravitated to our neighbor’s dog. I remember the sadness I felt when my mom wrote me a letter while away at college to tell that dog had died. I think that’s why I never had a dog; I guess I’d be afraid of the day when death would separate us.
So I have awarded myself visitation rights to Cassie, the mascot at Islewood.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced