Windy weather and wild traffic kicked off Saturday’s play of the LPGA Safeway International in Gold Canyon.
But that didn’t stop fans from having a good time.
Free wine and beer flowed to the waiting sample cups of patrons at the 19th Hole, a tent filled with spirits vendors. It was a happy hour of sorts — only open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — with mostly senior-aged customers.
Gloria Eades, a retiree from Canada, said her favorite part of the day was “seeing some of the leaders hit the ball pretty good . . . and this.” It was her second go-round at the minibar.
Outside the tent, cool, windy weather kept jackets over shoulders but sunshine kept sunglasses and hats atop heads.
Peoria resident and golf enthusiast Mel Fritze, 72, said the only downer was the cooler weather. But he said he’s always been a big fan of the event.
“We make day of it and see some good golf,” Fritze said.
He and his friend, Tom Glonning, 59, followed a few of the players from hole to hole. They’ve been attending similar events for 25 years.
“This is more personal (than the FBR Open),” Glonning said. “You get to walk next to the players down here.”
Just down the green, 11-year-old Sabrina Quam of Mesa and her 6-year-old brother, Blake, played with a blue blanket. The blanket became a superhero cape as they dashed around.
“It’s hard to keep them quiet,” said their mother, Enza Quam.
“They play with the blanket and some toys (but) tomorrow we’re going to bring a little-screen TV,” she said.
Quam said the drive in wasn’t too bad, but not all patrons agreed.
“The traffic was horrible because of the Renaissance Festival,” said Kelly Cooney, 32, of Queen Creek.
“We sat in traffic for like an hour and a half,” Cooney said.
Traffic was bumper-tobumper most of the day along the final eight-mile stretch of U.S. 60 leading up to the Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
Cooney and her three friends said they also witnessed a road-rage incident involving a man rear-ending a car with his truck.
Amy Sandy, 41, of Michigan said they saw the woman in the car getting out to get information who was subsequently punched several times by the man in the truck who then sped away.
“Otherwise, everything was great,” Sandy added.
All along the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, “Quiet” signs shot skyward as players golfed.
Some of the signholders were firm in their stance, even stopping walkers from trudging through gravel trails until the golfer was finished. Spectators spoke to one another in hushed voices, barely above a whisper.
It wasn’t that surprising to friends George Lara of Ahwatukee Foothills and Rene Ruiz of Reno, Nev.
“The FBR Open is more of a party atmosphere and here it’s a bit more . . . serious,” 53-year-old Ruiz said.
The pair sipped beer and puffed cigars as they watched the action at the ninth hole. They said it was a good day to relax and “watch the girls play.”
While many of the spectators attended the event because they were big golfing fans, others were just fans.
“She was real excited to go autograph-seeking,” said Mesa resident Lance Manywounds, 23, of his girlfriend, Linda Rowin. “She’s brandnew to golf.”
Rowin, 24, didn’t argue.
“I don’t golf,” she said. “I’ve tried it, but I’m not very good.”