A Tail-Wagging Golf Course Helper
There’s one helper on the golf courses at Reynolds Lake Oconee who really does bring home the bacon. Bacon flavored Beggin’ Strips, that is.
Koda, a 50-pound lab-beagle mixed breed dog, has been a familiar presence around Reynolds’ distinctive golf courses and grounds for several years.
“His main job is chasing geese away and being cute,” Koda’s owner, Chase Crawfordm explained with a smile. Koda was more than happy to oblige with a demonstration, but there were no geese in sight. He quickly found a substitute, some small birds on the other side of the cart path hopping around in the pine straw. After obediently looking at Chase for the permissible “ok,” Koda sped off in their direction and they flew up into the trees. He returned just as quickly and quietly as he had taken off, and was right back in sync with our footsteps along the path as the birds chirped in the trees behind us.
Working golf course dogs are an essential factor in controlling turf damage caused by wildlife, according to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. For more than a decade, the GCSAA has printed an annual calendar called “Dog Days of Golf,” which features a monthly photo of Association members’ dogs on their courses. A contest is also held for the “Dog of the Year,” jointly sponsored by the GCSSAA and LebanonTurf, and prize money is awarded to the winner and the winner’s GCSAA chapter, and also a donation is made to K9’s for Warriors.
Geese cause quite a bit of damage to a golf course, Chase said, and although other bird-repellent devices are used to control their presence, none are as diligent and well loved as Koda.
“He chases geese, birds and squirrels, but he absolutely loves keeping the geese off the courses,” Chase noted. “And there’s not a member or guest who doesn’t like Koda. They’re more than happy to see him and many bring him treats. He gets enough treats that he could probably skip meals if he wanted to.” Beggin’ Strips are Koda’s favorite, Chase said, then added, “Oh, and sugar cookies. He’s obsessed with sugar cookies."
Chase adopted Koda from the humane society while he was a junior at Auburn University. Chase has worked five years at Reynolds Lake Oconee as a horticulturist, and Koda has accompanied him to work the past four years. “So, Koda has been here longer than some employees,” Chase realized with a laugh. “He loves coming to work.”
He described their morning routine, saying as soon as Chase wakes up, Koda runs and sits at the door so he doesn’t get left behind. On the way to work, they stop at the Golden Pantry for breakfast. Chase gets a sausage biscuit and Koda gets an egg patty. “We don’t even have to order because they know what we want as soon as we walk in,” he said.
Most of the Reynolds’ team members wear khaki jackets when working outside on cold mornings, so Chase got Koda a Carhartt one to wear. Koda sits in the front seat of the golf cart and travels around all the courses with Chase. “He’s a good dog, and he will sit in the golf cart a long time. Even while I’m inside at meetings, he just sits in the cart and waits for me,” Chase described. And on instances when Chase is detained elsewhere, Koda doesn’t miss a beat and accompanies another team member or administrator.
After all, there are geese to chase and bacon strips to be earned.
Story by Lynn Hobbs, photos by Leigh Lofgren, published in Lakelife March/April 2021