A Father’s Passion for the Game Sparked Assistant PGA Professional Cassandra Prue to Follow Her Heritage and Give Back
By Bob Denney, PGA Historian Emeritus
The Rosebud Reservation spans 1,970 square miles of south central South Dakota. It was once part of the Great Sioux Reservation, which was partitioned following the 1868 Treaty of Laramie into 20 Native American communities.
Among those from Rosebud was television game show legend Bob Barker (“The Price Is Right”) and five-term U.S. Congressman Benjamin “Lone Feather” Reifel.
It also was home where Cassandra “Cassie” Prue, at age 6, joined her brother Michael roaming Spotted Tail Golf Course, a pasture transformed into a nine-hole layout.
While their father, Joseph, played with his friends, Cassie and Michael each carried a golf ball and a sawed-off club. They played at their own pace, creating their on-course “routing” before connecting with their father on a random hole.
“That was my first memory of golf,” said Cassie, now a 29-year-old Assistant PGA Professional at Shady Valley Country Club in Arlington, Texas. “I didn’t focus on golf when I was young. I grew up playing all sports, and that was what made me happy in life.”
Cassie learned early how much golf meant to her father. Joseph Prue first played at age 12, proudly parring his opening hole. Joseph carried a scratch handicap for 30 years, competing in Native American Golf Association (NAGA) events across the country.
Today, the 67-year-old who survived quadruple bypass heart surgery 11 years ago, maintains his passion for the game.
“My dad taught me all that I know about the game. He was always around golf,” said Cassie.
Joseph Prue’s feats as an amateur golfer rival those of accomplished professionals. He recorded 17 holes-in-one between ages 21 and 62, and once recorded a 59 in competition at 27 Flags Golf Course near Sioux City, Iowa. That day, he birdied the 18th hole just minutes before rushing to drive his son and his son’s girlfriend to a hospital where she delivered a baby daughter.
Cassie was a standout basketball and volleyball player in high school, which, she said, “kept my competitiveness.”
She briefly attended The Golf Academy of America, but realized that was not what she needed and began working at golf courses. Her professional career began in 2016 as an assistant at Wee-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she spent nearly three years. She then worked at The Estancia Club in Scottsdale before moving to Texas and joining the Northern Texas PGA Section in 2019. She was elected to PGA Membership last May.
“I think my progress in the industry has gone well. It’s not as fast as I would like, but would be faster compared to others,” said Cassie. “I base it on my hard work, and being in the right place at the right time.
“Listening to ethnic people that are a lot older than me about their struggles overall, they’ve opened a lot doors for people like myself and other people of color to make it more accepting.”
In her journey to PGA Membership, one moment makes Prue especially proud -- passing her Playing Ability Test (PAT) in 2016 on her first attempt. “Half the time I was working so much that I was going into that test blind,” said Prue. “I bogeyed my last hole, but made it.”
Prue said that she inherited her determination from her family, particularly her maternal grandmother, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier.
“I come from a group of very strong women,” said Prue. “They showed me by their actions how they accomplished things in life. My maternal grandmother, now 79, was all about being confident and defying the odds. She raised a bunch (11) of kids and has done so much for our tribe and for our language.”
One of the tribe’s elders, and able to speak fluent Lakota, Lydia assumed a leadership role in education. She wrote the Native American curriculum for the reservation’s schools.
“I have always wanted to give back to those where I grew up,” said Cassie. “We planned to do a junior camp this year but the pandemic prevented that. I want to give back to the youth of my tribe and let them know that their careers don't have to be confined to 9 to 5 in an office. I think exposing them to golf can help them realize that.
“Just exposing them to the game of golf, whether they choose to play or not, and make it a part of them is what I want. Now my friends are saying, ‘I wish I could have started earlier.’ ”
Prue said that her golf career is boosted by juniors she meets daily in her work.
“Being the first assistant at Shady Valley, I’m primarily the junior instructor there,” said Prue. “The gratification I get from the kids and the parents is amazing. I’ll see them at the club after our camps, and they run up to me or run into my office to say hi and tell me about their day. It’s nice to positively impact juniors like that.”
Prue’s inspiration to help juniors originated with her father, who ran the Lakota Youth Golf Association for a decade. Cassie entered the program as a four-year-old.
The program—which Joseph said, “keeps kids off the streets”— has produced a high school state champion and, more importantly, “has kept those same kids in the game today.”
Joseph taught his daughter the same way he taught other junior golfers.
“I gave her what I have given to all the other kids,” said Joseph. “I passed on the basic fundamentals of the game: grip, stance and the swing. What you do with them is up to you.”
Joseph served from 1974-79 in the U.S. Army as a police officer and as an X-ray technician. He said he believes in the life values one gets from golf.
“As soon as you are created, an ending date is already there,” said Joseph. “Some die at birth, others in the womb. Then there is my mother, who we lost in May. She was 94. We feel how we get to that time and place is up to you.
“We have a name given to us at birth. “Mine was Cangleska Luta Hoksila . . .Red Circle Boy, because I was a sundancer.
“When I had that quadruple bypass, I was in the hospital, depressed and on hard drugs that they were giving me. I was losing the battle. My son and a bunch of the boys said that they were going to practice golf and invited me to join them. I was able to get out and chip and putt. From that moment, I credited golf with saving my life.”
Among those things Cassie has accomplished in her career, one warms her father’s heart.
“Her golf swing was natural, and she picked things up so quickly,” he said, “but what I love most is the fact that she loves to teach.” Joseph looks forward to his daughter someday bringing her passion back to the reservation to increase youth participation.
“I hope it happens before I’m gone, “said Joseph. “She is early in her membership with the PGA and learning. She is building connections.”
Cassie’s tribal name, Wiwang Waci Win, “Sundance Woman”, was given to her by her maternal grandmother.
“My grandmother has worked hard in order that the language never dies,” said Cassie, who keeps one of her grandmother’s favorite phrases that transcends her work and is close to her heart:
Ni Lakota! Tuweni he ektuja s’ni yo