A Sports Illustrated writer once called the Arizona Cardinals’ training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff one of “My top five training camps — places to get up close and personal with NFL players.”
ESPN.com later recognized the Cards’ training camp as the best in the NFC West.
ESPN said, “There’s something special about going away to camp if the venue is right.
“Northern Arizona University fits the profile for the Cardinals. It’s far enough from Phoenix to escape the blistering heat, but close enough for fans to turn out in large numbers.
“The high-desert scenery and nearly 7,000 feet elevation combine to set apart NAU from other camp venues in the division and the league overall.”
That’s some pretty heady praise for the camp.
Makes one wonder why Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson abandoned Camp Tontozona as a training camp.
It might lack some of the facilities NAU has, but it is just as pristine and represents an ideal place to seclude football players where their focus can be on the game rather than girlfriends, surfing social media, night clubbing and more.
Making Christmas a joy
The Payson Public Safety Christmas for Kids Golf Tournament is a win-win situation.
First, it allows local golfers to enjoy a competitive round of golf at Payson Golf Course along with their favorite local law enforcement officer.
Second, it ensures that needy Rim Country children revel this December in a joyous holiday, opening gifts their parents might not be able to afford.
The tournament is unique because three-person teams have the option the evening before the tournament of bidding at an auction to have a public safety officer become the fourth member of their squad.
That bidding often turns spirited as some well-heeled players jockey to have their favorite law enforcement officer join them for golf, frivolity and more than a few good-natured laughs.
This year, the tournament will be played Saturday, Aug. 27 and the auction and steak dinner will begin at 6 p.m., Friday, Aug. 26 at Payson Golf Course. The event will include a no-host bar and door prizes. Also at the auction, Mulligans will be up for sale.
The tournament tees off at 8 a.m., Aug. 27 with a shotgun start.
While the tournament centers on golf, the real purpose behind the festivities is an admirable one — to raise money to purchase Christmas gifts for needy children around the Rim Country.
Last December (2010) the Public Safety Christmas for Kids program offered 266 children from 115 families the opportunity to grab more than $50 each worth of gifts from Walmart.
For the shopping trip, public safety officers helped the children pick out their gifts accompanying the children through the store.
If families needed the money to buy clothing and could not afford toys, they were taken to the Santa Shop at Bashas’ where volunteers gave away donated toys.
This year, the goal of Public Safety Christmas for Kids members is to “raise the amount of donations to allow us to open up our program to more in the community,” said PSCFK board member Andrea Hamm.
The entry fee into the tournament is $375, which includes green fees, golf cart, dinner and prizes, but not the purchase of a public safety team member.
The minimum bid for an officer to join a team is $75 and must be paid the night of the auction.
Public service agencies involved in Christmas for Kids include the Gila County sheriff’s and attorney’s offices, the Northern Gila County Firefighters Association, Department of Public Safety and Payson Police.
For more information, call PPD officer Mark Hillegas at (928) 595-1617 or Michelle Keegan at (928) 474-2208, ext. 2833.
Entry forms are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway