ALBERTVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — Nobody likes to hit a bad golf shot. But at one course, a bad shot can help a good cause.
Al Cooper and his dog, Davos, share a special bond.
“His personality is so out-going,” Cooper said. “It’s just a pleasure to have him with me.”
Every day, Cooper and Davos hop in their golf cart and drive about 50 feet…to lucky hole No. 13 at Cedar Creek Golf Course in Albertville.
But this pair isn’t looking to tee off.
Instead, they’re looking for other golfers’ tee shots that came up a little short.
“I call him my rescue dog, although I didn’t rescue him,” Cooper said. “He kind of rescued me.”
Davos was a fluffy, Bernese Mountain Dog pup when Cooper picked him up seven years ago.
He had just gotten over a bout with cancer, and Davos saved him in more ways than one.
“When I got him it was kind of like, Come out, let’s get some exercise dad,” Cooper said.
It started out as dog parks and long walks. Then, Cooper got an idea.
“I got three Dixie Cups and I put a ball under one of them and moved them around and told him to find the ball. And when he knocked over the Dixie cup with the ball in it, I’d give him a treat,” Cooper said.
That’s when Cooper decided to take Davos to the tall weeds of hole 13, a golf ball graveyard at Cedar Creek.
It wasn’t long before Davos was giving new life to topped tee shots and shanks.
“It’s a blast,” Cooper said. “It’s kind of like going on an Easter egg hunt. I feel like a kid out there eternally with him.”
“Sometimes they come back with so many balls I can’t believe how they did so well. It’s unbelievable,” said Dusty Barrett, Cooper’s friend.
As the golf balls piled up in the freezer and other places, it was Barrett who figured out what to do with them all.
They were watching TV one night and a commercial came on about helping rescued and abused animals. Davos started whining.
“I’m looking at that and he’s crying and I said, ‘You know, maybe we should give some of the money to the animals,'” Barrett said.
So now she cleans the golf balls.
“I kind of feel like they have the fun part. This is the not so fun part,” Barrett said.
After they’re clean, they sell the golf balls near the tee box for 25 cents apiece. Even better than par for the course.
“I think it’s a great way to keep the dog busy and contribute money,” said golfer Jim Schmit.
Cooper and Davos then give the money to the Animal Human Society.
When you have a good dog capitalizing on bad shots, the result is $600 for animals in need.
“That’s 2,400 golf balls at 25 cents apiece,” Cooper said.
Even though they uncover top of the line golf balls, Cooper and Davos have no intention of upping their prices. They just want golfers not to feel bad if they send one in the weeds every once in a while.
“We are OK the way it is,” Cooper said. “Davos is happy. I’m happy. Humane society is happy. If you are lucky enough to find a dog as good as Davos, you have it made in this world.”
Cooper jokes that he hasn’t had to buy a golf ball in seven years.
Like the Walk for Animals that happens every spring to benefit the Animal Humane Society, Cooper is now working on a Golf for Animals event that he hopes to have up and running next year.
He and Davos encourage anyone inspired by their story to make a donation to the Animal Humane Society in Davos’ name.