Okay, football is over. Now what? Well, pilgrim, can’t you hear the slap of leather and pop of a beer can? Hell, yeah — Padres pitchers and catchers report for spring training next week!
Peoria, Arizona. It’s another way of saying, “Phoenix.” Think L.A. without freeways. Think hundreds of square miles populated by mini-malls and one-story cement-block houses. On its northern rim lies the Peoria Sports Complex, springtime home of the Pads.
February is high season in Glob City, and the last time I was there, Glob City was full. At least the first nine motels I tried were full. Finally, way down the road, I found a Motel 6 that had one room left to let.
It wasn’t until morning that I discovered I was in Sun City. According to the census bureau, 80 percent of Sun City’s 38,000 residents are over 65. On the other hand, 0.4 percent are under the age of 18. But, what sticks to my mind are the golf carts. They are everywhere. Ancient men and women whip around town to doctor to hospital to cocktail lounge to Laundromat to supermarket to doctor in golf carts. A rolling golf-cart gang outfitted in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts.
This morning, while snooping the Internet for Padres spring-training news, I came across a notice that said the first Antique and Custom Golf Car Show would be held Saturday morning, February 7. The Sun Cities Area Historical Society will host. Call Ed Allen for info.
* * *
“How many golf carts in the show?”
Ed Allen says, “We have 20: 9 antique carts going back to the early ’70s and 11 custom carts. The most unusual cart is an Autoette. Have you ever heard of an Autoette?”
Allen laughs, “I never had either. A gentleman called, said, ‘I’ve got a 1960 Autoette.’ It was a little two-seater, electric people-mover designed to go to the grocery store, go to church — but not for golf — it didn’t carry golf bags in the back like a traditional golf-club cart does. He’s going to bring it in.”
“What other kinds of golf carts do you have?”
“Let me bring that up.” I hear computer keyboard clicks. “The Autoette is the oldest, then the next one would be a ’72 Westinghouse. We have a Western, a ’75 Harley...”
“Yeah, they were one of the early ones,” Allen says. “We’ve got a Cushman, a Yamaha, a Taylor-Dunn… Taylor-Dunn was one of the early ones. This one is a 1980. I was hoping we’d get a three-wheeler, but the only three-wheeler we’re going to have is that Autoette. As far as custom carts, we’ve got a 1929 Model A Ford, a 1932 Ford Hot Rod…”
“They would be fabricated to look like…”
“Yes, it probably has a plastic, fiberglass body on an E-Z-GO or golf cart,” Allen says. “We’ve got a Cadillac, a Lincoln Continental, we’ve got something called Big Foot, which is where they raise the whole chassis 18 inches, like an off-road vehicle. Then we have a Jeep and a Hummer. This Hummer is a $20,000 golf cart. It’s a replica of a Hummer H3. I suppose it’s bigger than the average golf cart, but it is a golf cart; he can run it on golf courses.”
I want one. “How long have you lived in Sun City?”
“I’m in Sun City West. We’re twin cities, three miles apart. When the developer, Del Webb, built out Sun City in ’77, he opened Sun City West in ’78, and then went across the street and built Sun City Grand. Opened that in ’97.
“How many Sun Cities golf carts are there?”
“Well, 25 percent of the community golfs. There are 17,000 households in Sun City West, so if 25 percent of those households golf, that brings you up a number of 4000-plus. Most of those would have a golf cart. [As far as Sun City], you can almost double that number…”
Soft, my heart. “Golf-cart utopia. Do you have golf-cart races? You must.”
“What’s the top speed?”
“I would say 35 miles per hour for a gas; 25, perhaps, for an electric.”
“How about DUIs? There’s got to be DUIs.”
Allen laughs hard, “I don’t know. It’s mainly for daytime use. You don’t see a lot of them out at night, so the DUI factor would be low if any.”
“There’s got to be two-golf-cart families, new and used golf-cart dealers, golf-cart repair, after-market golf-cart parts, golf-cart body shops, golf-cart theft. The whole smear.”