By any beans necessary

Stuart Stroud prepares pinto beans for annual weekend golf tourney

He’s the man who puts the beans in the Pinto Bean Golf Classic, the 33rd of which will be played Saturday and Sunday at Conquistador Golf Course.

Cortez native Stuart Stroud, who turned 52 on July 4, begins on Friday night to prepare the sumptuous pintos that add so much to the tournament’s Saturday-night steak fry. He washes and soaks them, then starts early Saturday morning to cook them. He’s been doing it since the mid-1990s.

“Funny story about how I got involved with this,” said Stroud, who also won the first two Pinto Bean Classic low-gross championship trophies back in 1978-79. “Jack Tanner and I were sitting talking at the Elks Club bar and the cook they had back then came out and said she had ordered cases of Van Camp beans for the tournament steak fry. You can imagine the look of horror on Jack’s face, seeing as how the tournament is called the ‘Pinto Bean’ Golf Classic. Jack said no, no, that we’d have to serve pintos, and I piped up and said, ‘I can do that. I can cook the beans.’”

Stroud said he had paid attention in previous years when his mother, Laura Stroud, and Frankie Nidiffer, the wife of former Cortez educator Bill Nidiffer, had cooked the pintos in the early years of the tournament.

“I watched them, and I just kind of came up with my own recipe,” he said. “The tough part was making it for 400 people. I just kind of increased the measures of everything, and by trial and error it came together.”

Stroud, who has been living here with his octogenarian father, Bill Stroud, this year (“I feel fortunate to be able to help dad at this stage of his life”) also has set the tee-box markers and pin placements at the Pinto Bean Classic “forever.” He’s following in the community-conscious footsteps of Bill, the man most responsible for the construction of both the front and back nines at Conquistador Golf Course.

“This tournament has always been a great thing for the community, and it’s grown into an even greater thing for the community,” Stuart said. “I’ve only missed a few of the tournaments, mostly back when I was in college at the University of Arizona and when I was running around the country for my dad with Environmental Liners. The Tanners, Jack, Rodney and their families, do a wonderful job with it.”

Stroud is one of the premier golfers ever to come out of Cortez. He played in the state tournament all four years while at Montezuma-Cortez High School, finishing as high as seventh in individual medal play and earning a scholarship to Arizona. In 1978, he missed qualifying for the U.S. Open by one stroke, firing back-to-back 73s at two country clubs in the Denver area, Green Gables and Lakewood.

“I made it to a playoff, but a guy birdied the first playoff hole to end it for me,” he said.

He was a long hitter who has driven five of the par-4s at Cortez, Nos. 8, 9, 11, 13 and 17. Over the years, he was within a few feet of driving the other five. He once set the course record at Silver Bell in Tucson, bagging two eagles and five birdies en route to a 63.

Stroud still has an 8-handicap, and has always played in the championship flight of the Pinto Bean Classic

“I haven’t played that well in the Pinto for a long time, but I’ve been able to practice more this year, so maybe I’ll play better this year,” he said. “But I’ve had the yips with my chipping recently. You know, I used to look at people and wonder how they happened to yip chip shots, which are really easy shots. Well, it’s certainly been eye-opening to me with the problem I’ve been having. It’s weird, but I still putt really well, and the chips are coming around.”

Stroud’s wife, Sherrie, who works for the Venetian in Las Vegas, has been “holding down the fort,” while he tends to his father.

“I feel so lucky to have Sherrie,” he said. “She’s made it possible for me to be here helping dad.”

Stroud has two sons, Sawyer, 25, an actor and performer who lives in Orlando, Fla., and Michael, 26, who just completed course work at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in professional golf management. Sawyer is studying film production at Full Sail University and appears in various roles at Disney World and Universal Studios. He’s recently played Shaggy in the Scooby-Doo show at Universal. Michael, on his way to becoming a Class-A club professional, seeks a career as a director of golf.