Javelina in Heaven

Javelinas In Heaven

Sedona, AZ, Red Rock country, is the home of three wonderful golf courses: Oak Creek CC (the oldest), Sedona Golf Resort (a spectacular course, open to public play), and Seven Canyons Golf Club (one of the best kept secrets in golf).

If you think you have seen beautiful golf courses and luxury high desert living, think again….. you have not see Seven Canyons. Seven Canyons Golf Club was beautifully designed by Tom Weiskopf on 250 acres that was homesteaded in five 50 acre parcels over 150 years ago. Today the property is completely surrounded by National Parkland. The real estate development is a very small gated community at the end of the road…. Heaven on earth.

As a Golf Digest rating panelist, I had the opportunity to play this wonderful private golf course. The golf professional set me up with a very interesting foursome included the mandatory caddy, really a man Friday who served as fore caddy who could read the extremely difficult greens. Three of our wives rode along just to experience this magnificent slice of God’s creation.

For a first time on Seven Canyons, with the spectacular scenery, concentration on golf was difficult. As advertised, the greens broke away from mountains toward one of the seven canyons…. Which one was the question. As we looked up at the elevated 14th green from the valley fairway below, we noticed some movement in the left shoulder of the green. A huge wild hog (caddy estimated 60 – 80 lbs.) a bore javelina, Spanish for sharp teeth, and his family of about ten in various sizes, were busy rooting and destroying the soft fringe on the left side of the green.

As we got closer, we felt fear for two reasons: Fear the protective bore would attack us. And, fear that the javelina group would retreat back into the dense scrub cedar forest and out of sight. Neither happened. The herd was so wrapped up in rooting the delicious, grubs, worms and grass shoots in the wet but well manicured fringe area, they did not notice our curious golf caravan.

Suddenly I had a flashback: A memories from my childhood in western Kansas. Our garbage man was Alvin Johnson. He operated a big hog feedlot on the outskirts of town. In those days every home had a trash barrel in their back yard. It was used to burn all types of trash. Food scraps and garbage, like coffee grounds, potato peels – anything a critter might eat were separated from the trash that was burned. Three times per week Mr. Johnson (everybody called him “Slop Johnson”) would come through our neighborhood to collect our garbage in a five gallon buckets he hauled in each hand. It was a well known fact that Mr. Johnson kept a bottle of whiskey in his slop bucket to help deal with the many challenges of his job. When his buckets were fulled, he would deposit the “slop” or hog food into a big barrel on the back of his pick-up truck. (The smell would alert you that Slop Johnson was in the area.)

For entertainment, my dad would periodically take my brother and me to visit Slop Johnson’s hog feedlot to watch old Slop Johnson feed or “slop” his hogs. Bucket after five gallon bucket filled with the garbage collected would be poured into the low metal feed troughs; the hogs, in a feeding frenzy, would go wild splattering this mess all over the place. Then for hours the hogs would root around in the wet, sloppy mud seeking a delicious hidden morsel.

My conclusion: A hog is just a hog. The javelina rooting in Heaven or Slop Johnson’s hogs rooted in the smelly mess of the western Kansas feedlot.

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