Pinto Bean golf tourney a proud local tradition
The table is set for the 34th annual Pinto Bean Golf Classic on Saturday and Sunday at Conquistador Golf Course.
A full field of 240-plus golfers will compete in the five-flight competition, with the first seven places being paid in merchandise in each flight. It’s the largest field of any Conquistador tournament, drawing about 40 percent of the participants from out of town. It’s also the oldest in terms of years, having been founded in 1979 by the Tanner family and its sponsoring Midland Bean Co.
“Shoot, man, we have a lot of fun,” said Micah Rudosky, now completing his 17th year as Conquistador head pro. “The Pinto brings so many people back each year. It’s a wonderful event for our community.”
Rudosky said he can’t think of another amateur tournament or another municipal golf course that have more to offer.
“I try to think about other towns and courses, and with our fee structure and the quality and condition of our course, there isn’t a better one,” he said. “And the way Rod and Jack Tanner and the whole Tanner family treat everyone, it’s just a beautiful tournament.”
Rudosky said the Pinto dodged a drought-laden bullet this year. An initial estimate given to Rod Tanner had irrigation water being turned off at the course as early as Aug. 10. The greens would have been watered after that with city water, but some excellent rains would have been needed to keep the fairways from going brown.
Now the earliest shut-off date is Aug. 22.
“We had some good snows late in the mountains this spring, but it just wasn’t enough,” Rudosky said. “This drought has hung around now for about seven or eight years, and for next year, if we don’t get that snowpack this winter, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Rudosky has contingency plans if sufficient water isn’t generated this winter.
“Everybody loves the green grass, and we’ve always tried to keep the whole course pretty, but a lot of courses are cutting back their watering, especially in areas that don’t come into play. The thinking is, why water those areas? We could be in that situation next year. Maybe even the fairways might not be as green as we’ve always kept them.”
But for now, Conquistador is looking great.
“Everything is full go for the Pinto,” Rudosky said. “The only thing I would say that isn’t exactly the way we want it is that some of the edges of the greens are a little scalped because we’ve embarked on a program to expand the greens back to their original dimensions.”
Over the years, the normal operation of the mowers had resulted in the loss of perhaps half an inch or so from the greens each year as the fringe encroached. Rudosky said that’s not much, but it all adds up over a span of decades.
“The greens are bigger now with our new mowing program, and that’s a good thing,” he said.
Once again, the Cortez Elks Lodge will be tournament headquarters and open to the public this weekend. The annual “Grip It and Rip It” long drive contest will be held Friday on hole No. 18 at 6 p.m. following the practice rounds. Only tournament entrants are eligible to compete.
A steak fry and dance to the music of Band of Brothers are set for Saturday after the first round of play, and Keenan Ertel will light the skies with his spectacular fireworks show around 9 p.m.
As he has since inception of the tournament, Joe Keesee of Keesee Motors will present a new Ford for the first hole-in-one on No. 7. In 33 Pinto Bean Classics, Keesee has only had to pay off twice, to Al Kurtz of Montrose in the early 1980s and to Star Proffit of Cortez about 10 years ago.