This year’s 2017 Pumpkin Bash Golf Tournament ended “Par-fectly” with the area weather providing a scenic, crisp Fall day. The seasonal display of golden leaves on the surrounding cottonwood trees pleased the visiting golfers, with some admitting to an hour drive to attend. Among over 60 participants, the golfer coming the farthest arrived from Portland, Ore. The Hawthorne Army Depot location did not disappoint, as the vast blue skies provided a perfect golf day, on the well-manicured lawns of the Walker Lake Public Golf Course.
Golf coach Mike Fitzgerald, who also coached the high school golf classes before retiring, said that the pumpkin-themed open tournament was retiring after this, their final year.
“For 29 years’ we have returned to enjoy raising money for kid projects and we have fun doing it. It has always been word-of-mouth which brings some groups out every year, so we get to play some golf while visiting with old friends.” Fitzgerald shared.
With funds lacking for local teen programs, Fitzgerald explained that the pumpkins-in-golfing idea was originally created to meet the need of supporting the high school’s golfing endeavors. It has evolved over the years, but the premise for tee assignments and game-induced golf holes was to provide additional fines or instructions that made the golf game enticing and to bring in more donations. Entry fees, prize donations, tickets and earnings helped provide items which ranged from an assortment of golf balls to food items for a golfer to win. The “Great Pumpkin God” could also dispense special offerings to the golfers by setting them up to win coveted prizes and yet the emphasis was to raise funds for kids.
At this 9-hole course, participants were competing in an 18-hole tournament. Pumpkins were set up around the course with game drawings and specific tickets which could be used for credits at certain putts. Mulligan’s were one dollar, as it was stated that “your game can be bought”. Other pumpkins required that you only draw if you were a certain age, lived a certain place, voted by a certain party or were a lady. Rented golf carts were whirling around the marked golfing spots, with casual golfers mixed in along with those that were “practicing” their golf game. Many wore bright orange and black apparel as a sign of the tournament’s fun, seasonal attitude.
One local participant, Ed Engel, shared his memories of the golf course, citing that he personally arrived to the Hawthorne base, only “to marry the local girl at the gate”.
“When I arrived here the trees were only about six to eight feet tall. It was in the 50’s and 60’s, but this place was jumping. It was the perfect set-up, with the nice sized golf course, food and a bar and you could just come in and hang out to meet up with friends.”
Engel went on to say he was gone from 1964-1967 during the Vietnam War, but even coming home to Hawthorne, the golf course provided a great place to enjoy within the community.
Originally open in 1952, today the golf course offers a 9-hole course, with sand traps to challenge the serious player, yet any skill level can take advantage of other aspects, such as the driving range, putting or chipping range and just enjoying the local views.
The Walker Lake Golf Course is a year-round, recreational use facility, which includes a clubhouse offering a location to relax, drink at the bar or grab a snack. Tournaments and events may be scheduled throughout the year. Golf carts and clubs may be rented and a golf pro can be arranged in advance by contacting the facility directly for fees and scheduling. A vetting process of entry is required in advance, which can be arranged by calling 775-945-1111 or to receive information on their website visit: www.walkerlakegolf.com for fees and specific hours offered. Entry to drive into the base facility requires a full, picture identification for all drivers and passengers at the main guard house entrance.