One of the most successful athletic events of the summer season is the Arizona Public Service Payson Stocking Stuffers golf tournament.
Held each summer at Payson Golf Course, the event traditionally attracts a field of about 160 players from Phoenix, Yuma, Flagstaff, Winslow and other Arizona towns and cities. According to tournament director Jan Parsons, about one-half of the players are APS employees or their families.
"Most of the players come back year after year and say our tournament was the most fun (one) they've ever played in," Parsons said.
The proceeds from the tournament are donated to Santa's List, a nonprofit organization that purchases Christmas gifts for the community's less fortunate youngsters and seniors. Last Christmas, Santa's List brought smiles to the faces of more than 530 children and 44 seniors.
This year's Stocking Stuffer golf blast is June 16 in two sessions. The first will begin with a shotgun start at 7 a.m. The second session tees off, also with a shotgun start, at 1 p.m.
As of Wednesday, 68 players had signed up for the morning sessions and 76 for the afternoon go-around.
"That's close to our maximum, which would be 88 in each session," Parsons said.
The tournament format will be a four-person scramble in which participants are allowed to assemble their own teams.
In order to keep the tournament more competitive, Parsons and fellow tournament officials have devised a handicap system for the players on each team.
"We throw out the lowest handicap, average the other (three) and then apply a formula," Parsons said.
That method, she said, "keeps a level playing field."
Once the players take to the course, they are challenged by a host of extracurricular contests, including closest-to-the-pin battles on all par 3 holes and a longest, straightest drive shoot-out on hole No. 3.
Also, if a player should be lucky enough to sink a hole-in-one on No. 8, he or she would win a 2001 Jeep Wrangler courtesy of Payson Chapman Chevrolet.
Parsons has devised several other individual contests to spice up play on each hole.
This year, Parsons has dispensed with the traditional awards presentation at the conclusion of the tournament which had become too lengthy, she said.
Instead, the tournament will feature a "warehouse" prize system in which players will draw numbers as they depart the course.
With numbers in hand, they'll visit a warehouse where all the tournament prizes are housed. The participants will then be awarded the prizes that are earmarked with the same numbers they drew earlier.
The list of warehoused prizes is an extensive one, including Arizona Diamondbacks sky box tickets, a set of irons, dinner for two at an exclusive Phoenix restaurant, several gift certificates and more.
Also, the overall tournament champs will receive several awards.
"We have a number of really neat prizes," Parsons said.
Included in the $70 entry fee ($60 for PGC members) is use of a golf cart, green fees, coffee and donuts in the morning, a snack lunch and barbecue feast at the conclusion of the tournament.
"The whole day is a lot of fun for everyone, and it's for a good cause," Parson said.
Call Parsons at 474-7645 for more information.