Star Pass Deer GolfTales RJSmiley

Deer At Starr Pass

As the days shorten and the leaves turn yellow gold, we golfers begin dreaming of winter getaways. Starr Pass in Tucson is among the finest.

The pressure from work had them both going nuts….. Still one day left in the workweek!  Their Chicago, lakefront high-rise condo seemed to be closing in on them.  A biting late November wind was blowing off Lake Michigan, a precursor to the long Chicago winter.  Even the second martini couldn’t change their mood.  Blues!  Depressed!  Bored!  The right adjective was just not there. They needed a break.

“Let’s get out of here.  Let’s do something crazy… and fun!  Let’s do something romantic!”  She said leaning closer.  

Knowing she meant it, he held his martini tumbler up to click glasses as he replied, “OK let’s go to the closet and let the first thing that jumps out at us determine our destination.”  

“Not the closet,” she smiled.  “Let’s go to the storage area for the clue.”

The first thing he noticed was a pair of dusty cowboy boots.  Her eyes settled on the Ping I-10 driver that had not seen sunlight for years.  Simultaneously they turned to face each other.  “Lets go someplace neat where we can play golf, eat good food and lay by the pool,” she said.

Before she had finished the sentence he said, “let’s go somewhere I can wear that pair of cowboy boots I bought for the company barbecue.”

A quick Google search, and a few more clicks they had reservations at the Marriott’s Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, AZ.  Agreed, only a carry-on each.  They would manage.  “We can rent golf clubs and I will wear my Wrangler jeans and boots on the plane,” he said with a smile.  O’Hare to Tucson was easy and Marriott’s shuttle meant no rental car.  Two quick calls to work and they were off before lunch on Friday.

On the brief drive from the airport to Starr Pass, the shuttle driver entertained them with the Pony Express history of Starr Pass.  He explained that the pre-sunset cocktail hour on the stair-step patio was the crescendo ending to each day in the desert.  “Be sure to secure a snuggle chair facing the golf course near a fire-pit, and have a jacket the desert cools off quickly at sunset.  The deer of Starr Pass will provide natural entertainment.”  After making a tee time for, mid-morning Saturday and a quick “nap”, they showered and changed into their southwest outfits, complete with string tie.

They shared a bottle of good wine and southwest spiced calamari as the sun began to set.  Soon they were part of an eclectic group of strangers sitting around the fire-pit seeking the southwest experience.  “Oh look there is a deer on the fairway.” Squealed the attractive corporate lawyer from Seattle dressed in western jeans and a beautiful serape jacket.  

“There is another.”  Barked the overweight bond trader from New York who looked like a baked potato stuffed into the too-tight western shirt.

As the group chatted, the shadows lengthened over the desert oasis.  Without a preview the sun melted into the mountains behind them and painted the entire sky orange.  “It reminds me of poring a package of orange Kool-Air into a pitcher of water and watching it slowly turn the entire pitcher orange,” she said.  The deer herd, now twenty or more, nibbled peacefully on the lush fairway grass.  

“Where did they come from?” the hospital administrator from Boston, wearing the pearl colored cowboy hat with a turquoise band said.  “We hiked the entire six mile mountain loop past the ruins this morning after breakfast, I don’t know how a deer could survive in that beautiful but severe wilderness.”

The conversation switched from politics to work and kids but always drifted back to the deer performing peacefully on nature’s stage.  One by one the desert invaders attempted to capture the perfect image of the smallish mule deer in the orangish glow of sunset.  

Email addresses were exchanged in case they got a really good shot.  The entire group promised to reunite with the new “old friends” tomorrow.

Golf on the pristine course was mixed with a history lesson in Pony Express and a nature study of desert critters.  The view of Tucson was spectacular from the high points on the course.  The couple from Vancouver that joined them on the first tee were a riot to play with.  They had a few more grey hairs but did not loose as many golf balls.

Sunset cocktails on Saturday night proved to be act two of the same play.  The wispy clouds on the western horizon painted an entirely different sunset experience.  The now old friends chatted until well after dark before enjoying dinner at a large round table near the fireplace.

The flight back to Chicago after their whirlwind getaway was filled with small talk – fun golf, great food, interesting new friends but mostly of the never-good-enough pictures of the deer at Starr Pass.   

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