Javelina havoc video goes viral

Assistant superintendent’s post of course damage keeps racking up the views — 32 million and counting.


Photo of Seven Canyons Golf Club

Seven Canyons Golf Club is "surrounded by miles of national forests" near Sedona, Ariz. Photos by Emily Casey

When Emily Casey reported to work Sunday and began conducting her typical early check of the golf course, she was greeted by a familiar sight: extensive damage to the turfgrass from the local herd of javelinas.

She recorded a quick 30-second video tour of the damage (her term: carnage) and, as she has a handful of times in the past year-plus since she became assistant superintendent at Seven Canyons Golf Club in Sedona, Ariz., tweeted it out (or X’d it, whatever the proper verb is now) Sunday night before turning in.

On Monday morning, she took a quick glance at her phone … and immediately texted her boss, Andy Huber, Seven Canyons GC’s GCSAA Class A director of agronomy.

“I said, ‘Hey, uh, I have a lot to tell you,’” recalls Casey, a three-year GCSAA member who started at Seven Canyons in August 2022.

Primarily what she had to tell Huber, a 24-year GCSAA member, was that her X video had gone viral. And it was only just the beginning.

“This just blew up so much more than I could imagine,” Casey says. “I’ve been posting stuff for weeks. Why did this one get so popular?”

Of course, nobody can predict virality on the wildly unpredictable world of social media, but even this was extraordinary. As of Thursday afternoon, Casey’s video had been watched nearly 31 million times, with 2,000 comments; 8,300 reposts; 4,800 likes; and 1,000 bookmarks. By Friday afternoon, it was well over 32 million views.

“Andy’s joking about it,” Casey says. “He said, ‘You’re like Taylor Swift.’”

While Casey’s online clout actually pales when compared to Tay Tay’s, that 31-million-and-counting number is quite substantial in the world of turf Twitter. And it all kind of blew up as Huber was winging his way to participate in the Chapter Delegates Meeting at GCSAA headquarters in Lawrence, Kan.

“I’ve posted videos and gotten a few thousand views before,” Casey says. “It’s never been a million or 30 million. Andy and I were joking as he was leaving for Kansas. He said, ‘Text me if it hits 10 million.’ I said, ‘Yeah, OK.’ By the time he landed, I think it was at 14 million.”

Casey’s most recent post about javelinas — or collard peccary or skunk pig, which are other names for the small, medium-sized ungulates native to the area — collected just 29,000 views. The one before that: 27,000. A video of javelina damage from Sept. 4 had just 14,000.

What about this one struck a chord, causing it to get picked up far and wide, from GolfDigest.com to The Guardian?

“I think it’s just that it’s in your face,” Casey says. “I see this stuff every day and don’t think anything of it. It just is what it is. We see it, we fix it, we move on. I think it’s just the length of the video and the amount of damage, and I was so close to it. It looks like it destroyed the entire golf course, but it’s really not even 10%.”

Photo of a nestled green at Seven Canyons Golf Club

Emily Casey has served as an assistant superintendent at Seven Canyons Golf Club since August 2022.

Casey knows the cinematography wasn’t the reason for its reach.

“Honestly, it’s pretty terrible,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a terrible video. I was talking with our irrigation guy. He was like, ‘That video is awful. It’s loud and shaky.’ And it is. It’s terrible.”

Casey’s previous high-water postmark was the video pinned atop her X feed (@emcaseyturf) of her commute to work back on Jan. 20 through heavy snow. That video apparently has benefited from folks flocking to her feed and now stands at roughly half a million views.

“That was exciting,” Casey says. “That was my claim to fame.”

Curiously, Casey’s phone hasn’t been blowing up while she’s at work. The course is remote enough there’s only limited cellphone service.

“That’s one of my favorite things I like about the property,” says Casey, who has since turned off all notifications except her emails because of the barrage of alerts when she is within range. “I’m from North Carolina. I’ve lived in Wisconsin. I have friends in North Carolina, Wisconsin, New York — all over the country — texting me and asking if that’s my golf course and if I’m OK and do I still have a job? That’s my favorite one.”

Casey had never heard about javelinas until she moved to Arizona, but she quickly became well versed in what they are and what they do.

“I came in one day and 18 fairway was torn up and asked what happened,” she recalls. “One of the guys said, ‘This happens every year. It’s the javelinas.’ One of them chased me. We’re not friends.”

Photo of javelina damage at Seven Canyons Golf Club

Casey says the crew finds javelina damage like this almost daily this time of year.

She admits one reason she posted the video was to see if any followers might have suggestions for what to do about the pesky porcines. Javelinas have some legal protections in Arizona, so the course must tread lightly when dealing with them.

“My goal with people seeing it was to find a solution,” Casey says. “Now so many people have seen it. I hope that brings people to the golf course to enjoy what we’re doing out here.”

As might be expected, many commenters — before Casey turned commenting off — used the platform to blast golf in general. And some of the comments were markedly personal, not to mention misgendered.

“I go by Emily, but I put ‘Em’ on Twitter so I’d might have a little bit of anonymity,” Casey says. “For some reason, everybody thinks I’m a guy. They think I’m a rich, white man. First of all, I work here. Second, I’m a girl.”

—    Andrew Hartsock is GCM’s senior managing editor