Weekly tradition of senior citizens up to par
Dark gray storm clouds blanketed the skies threating what was once a sun-filled morning. Rain lightly rinsed cars, buildings and the few people who were out of bed early enough to see Mother Nature’s tears.
Weather rarely stops Puebloans from enjoying their day: People walked their huskies, couples ran around the pond at Desert Hawk Golf Course and the ducks ate anything they could find. Nine holes on the golf course, though?
A gloomy day coupled with rain isn’t considered a great day on the course. There was no scenario, however, that would intervene with golf scramble about to occur at Desert Hawk.
Every Wednesday a group of about 30 senior citizens plays nine holes of golf in Pueblo West. The group totals more than 60 members and consists of anything from retired doctors to former teachers.
Becca the bartender described the gentlemen as she gave two other men at the bar Budweisers and hot dogs. After the briefly review of the older men, she walked me out to meet the group.
“Old Farts in Carts. Right this way,” she said.
It sounded like a nickname only Becca was allowed to call them because of how nonchalant she said it. Sure enough, it’s a name that has grown on the 60-plus golfers over the years.
“(Several years ago) one of the girls who was bartending said something about us being Old Farts in Carts, and it pretty much stuck ever since then,” said Don Byers.
Whether there is snow covering the green or it’s 100 degrees, the Old Farts in Carts rarely miss a Wednesday on the course. Their presence at Desert Hawk is a tradition that began more than 20 years ago and has continued every Wednesday since by anyone associated with the bunch.
While everyone has plenty of mileage – at least 55 years’ worth – no one pegged the start date of the weekly venture.
“Who knows exactly when but it’s been at least 24 or 25 years we’ve been doing this,” said Ray Ruiz, a former optician.
Smoke from Ruiz’s cigarette hovered around the table along with cuss words and laughter while he fruitlessly attempted to pinpoint how long Desert Hawk played a role in their Wednesdays. The sounds of dirty language and chuckles are present each week at their table after they wrap up games.
As they sat at their table, the Old Farts in Carts’ vibe radiated throughout the patio. It was like being surrounded by a group of comedians preparing for a show. Everyone is a target of the jokes, but all are in good nature.
“You’ve got to have thick skin to be out here,” Ruiz said. “Because nobody likes each other out here.”
Of course, that remark was made jokingly because the opposite couldn’t be truer. Everyone who shows up at Deseret Hawk has nothing but love and respect for one another.
While they complain about how long someone takes to stick his tee into the ground, why someone should have purchased Budweisers from Becca or what so-and-so scored on the seventh hole, Ruiz made sure to indicate how well everyone gets along.
The “baby” of the group, Mike Gallegos, 55, added that he felt welcomed from the moment he took the tee and he enjoyed going to the course because of the environment.
“My first year out here I looked forward to playing,” Gallegos said. “It’s the jokes and just that they’re older than I am. I enjoy being out here. I’d do it until I’m 80.”
Those years of building rapport between this crew allows the consistent (friendly) bashing of one another while still enjoying a day of golf. Regardless how much time has passed, this is always a family away from home.
“The camaraderie with everyone is great,” Ruiz said. “I don’t think there’s anyone out here who everyone doesn’t get along with. Every week you get to play with someone different.”
To keep the game fair from week to week, the group utilizes a golf scramble system: whoever hits the ball the furthest on your team is where the next lie is played. A detailed list of who has won how much from each scramble this year keeps track of all single-game earnings, total payouts, ages and teams that have the most earnings.
Though the list consists of more than 60 people, Ruiz knows some Wednesday’s those who took his money at Desert Hawk the previous weeks may not give him the opportunity to win it back.
“Every Wednesday I read the obituaries to see who’s not gonna show up,” Ruiz said.