This lovable golf-course pup plays a priceless role at South Florida club
Courtesy of Gabe Gallo
Every job in golf is a good job. But some gigs — like this superintendent’s dog (below) — make us especially envious! To browse more Best Jobs in Golf, click each link here: USGA Museum Curator | TaylorMade content creator | Luxury helicopter pilot | Titleist club builder | Course designer | Gold Putter Vault guardian | Social media content creator | St. Andrews Starter | Callaway equipment innovator | Course photographer | Pinehurst bartender
Because golf is mostly mental, it’s hard to imagine how the staff and membership at Fiddlesticks Country Club, in Fort Myers, Fla., would manage if a regular named Ruby weren’t around. Ruby is not a sports psychologist. She can’t help with chip yips, knows nothing of swing thoughts. She’s clueless on course strategy and pre-shot routines.
But what Ruby lacks in stroke-saving savvy she makes up for with traits that don’t show up on the scorecard. She’s kind-hearted and playful, a faithful companion with a can-do spirit and an uplifting presence to everyone she meets.
“All the members love her,” says Fiddlesticks superintendent Gabe Gallo. “I can’t even bring her by the range anymore or everyone will stop and give her treats.”
Gallo adopted Ruby four years ago, when she was six months old, one of eight in a litter of Labrador pups. All the males were brown, all the females yellow, though Ruby stood out for her sweet demeanor and the red collar that inspired her name. Gallo, 38, had grown up with dogs. He wanted one at home, a pet to share his life with his wife, Kathleen, and their daughter Kaylee — but also a sidekick to ride with him, or romp beside him, during his long-hours, six-day weeks.
Ruby was trained young and proved a quick study. In lieu of trick shots she learned tricks, including puppy pushups, which look like human pushups, only cuter. Gallo has also taught her to avoid the water (gators!), and to never walk in bunkers or onto greens. Fiddlesticks members love to watch this bit of canine etiquette in action. And if they miss it, they can click on YouTube, where Gallo has posted footage of Ruby scampering around — not across — a putting surface to meet her owner on the other side.
Working dogs have long been part of golf. But they’re scarcer in Florida than they are in other places where goose-chasing pups proliferate. Ruby’s specialty is not that sort of thing. Aside from fox squirrels, which aren’t considered pests, she does not go after critters. She has given up on ducks.
“I think she knows she’s never going to get ‘em, anyway,” Gallo says.
In Ruby’s case, Lab is not short for labor. Her role at Fiddlesticks is less a job than it is an avocation, a hobby that makes her — and others — happy as she hangs out in the pro shop or gallivants about the grounds. Her looks and personality have earned her recognition. Among other headline moments, Ruby was featured as Miss July in the 2022 Dog Days of Golf Calendar, published by the Golf Courses Superintendents Associations of America. The GCSAA also named her Dog of the Year.
None of which has gone to Ruby’s head.
She pours herself into her unpaid duties, which largely amount to putting smiles on faces — a priceless contribution that was made plain last month, when Fiddlesticks went through a whirlwind. Just days after hosting the U.S. Women’s Mid-Am, the club was battered by Hurricane Ian, and a worn-down maintenance staff whipped back into action. A few returned to work having lost their homes. Though Fiddlesticks escaped the worst of the storm, debris was everywhere. Some of the heaviest lifting fell to Ruby, who took it on herself to boost morale.
“She was doing what she always does,” Gallo says. “And it was just what we needed — brightening everybody’s mood.”