For almost 20 years, I've had the pleasure of showing up at Payson Women's Golf Association 19th hole celebrations to photograph champions for the Payson Roundup sports pages.
Present at most of those ceremonies was longtime PWGA player Marge Landra.
Walking into the Payson Golf Course clubhouse Oct. 4, I knew Marge would not be among the PWGA members there -- she died Sept. 16 after a courageous bout with cancer.
Even with the realization she was gone, it was strange not to see her joyfully mixing with her fellow players.
My mind had been conditioned to expect Marge by the years of seeing her there.
Marge loved to tease me because I once referred to her in a story as a "wily veteran."
From the time I first penned that phrase, she would scold me if I didn't call her that in follow-up stories.
I guess I must have succumbed to her barbs. A headline on a July 15, 2003 sports story read "wily veteran wins again."
Part of Marge's character might best be summed up in what PWGA member Joyce Goff told me in the summer of 2003.
"Marge doesn't like to be a bridesmaid, she likes to win," Joyce said.
And win she did -- Marge was an 11-time PWGA Club Champion, a six-time Arizona State Medallion winner and had played her way to the title of just about every tournament the Payson women host.
I checked the Payson Roundup files and learned that since 1998, I had written 47 stories that contained some reference to Marge's exploits.
Longtime local golfer Emmett Davis -- a cordial, gregarious gentleman, known for his wit -- enjoyed nothing better than chiding my wife, Kay, that Marge and I were having an affair.
He would tell Kay, "Look how much he writes about Marge. There has to be something going on."
The last time I wrote about Marge was Aug. 2, 2004, when I ended a story with "the tournament was played without one of the PWGA's longtime veterans, Marge Landra, who had surgery recently and will be off the links for a short time."
I hope she's not upset with me that I didn't refer to her as a "wily veteran."
We'll miss you, Marge.
Editor's note: See accompanying PWGA story.
The Mogollon Sporting Association's Great Summertime Giveaway culminates at 1 p.m. Oct. 31 with a drawing for a high tech, luxurious hot tub.
The drawing will be held at the Plant Fair Nursery.
Tickets are $50 each and only 200 will be sold.
The hot tub is a Beachcomber 350 that seats six to eight adults and is equipped with all the bells and whistles, including underwater lighting, therapeutic massage pump, auto controls, microfilter filtration, 14 water ports, ozone machine and a cover.
Professional setup by Plant Fair is also included. Second prize is a $200 gift certificate to Plant Fair.
Tickets are available from any MSA member or by calling Jack Koon at (928) 474-1662.
PEC host horse clinic
John Lyons certified horse trainer Steve Sikora has added a free demonstration to his two clinics to be held Oct. 8 and 9 at the Payson Event Center.
The demonstration, which will include bridleless riding and other equestrian techniques, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at PEC.
The Payson Parks and Recreation Department will co-sponsor the clinics and demonstration along with Sikora.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Oct. 8 clinic, Sikora will host the horsemanship session. According to town recreation specialist Charlene Hunt, Sikora will teach good ground exercises to help gain the horse's attention and control before moving on to working in the saddle. After 1 p.m., Sikora has committed to remaining on site to work individually with those equestrians who are having specific problems with their horses. The fee is $100 for horse and rider. With no horse, it is $25.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 9, Sikora will focus on ground penning or getting control of a horse at liberty.
Hunt says the session will focus on working with horses that won't stand still to mount or are head shy. Once again, Sikora will remain after 1 p.m. to work with individual riders and horses. The fees are also $100 and $25.
To register for the Payson clinics or for more information, call Sikora at (602) 625-1961.