Wednesday, January 29, 2014

GITMO Golf at Gila Bend Air Force Aux Field

Yesterday afternoon, Pam and I checked out the 'golf course' on base at the USAF Auxiliary Air Field in Gila Bend.

We are staying a couple of nights here because we were unsure about the generator hours policy at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument about 90 miles south of Gila Bend.  (Hours are 4-6 PM and 8-10 PM.)  Not sure we wanted to fore go charging our batteries at those odd times instead of later in the evening after our peak hours.

Instead, we found that there is a FamCamp at the Gila Bend Auxiliary Air Field.  It is 3 miles south of Gila Bend.  It was a step up from Quartzsite because it has full hookups.  But it is pretty austere.
We found a place and got all set up.
The laundry is free and we went and got a couple of loads done.
The facility is advertised as 'no facilities' which means there is no gas station, no shopette, no gym etc on base.  Back in the day, this base had lots going on.  But you could tell it has been overhauled with lots of old building and houses demolished and debris carted off.  Whole neighborhoods and blocks were empty.  Roads and trees remain.  Very little grass on the base.  We saw some F-16's doing some touch-and-go landings.

I walked over to what looked like the gym or maybe the FamCamp Office.  It was once a gym, but now is a 'Geospatial Intelligence Agency' facility.  Hmm... not what I was looking for.

Over at the Lodging / FamCamp Office it looks like a dorm that might be used for units when they train here or something like that.  Two people were in the building.  Really a sleepy hollow kind of place.

After paying $20 for my intended two-night stay I asked about the golf course.  You know--this is an Air Force facility.  No matter how basic or modest, the joke is that the AF always builds the golf course first---then the rest of the base.  The AF, the 'country club' group of the Armed Forces.  

On our way out next morning, we passed a couple who were over on a vacant lot at one of those empty blocks/housing areas --- playing golf!  Later in the day we went over and tried it out.
Greens fees, parking, tee times and big crowds were no problem.
We went over to the first tee and started our round.
Someone (or quite a few people) got together and really did a neat thing.  Despite how rough it looks, it was actually fun!  It took around 45 minutes to play all 18 holes.  Darndest thing I've ever seen.  Reminded me of overseas conditions when military folks make a 'golf course'.  The closest thing I have personally seen was the 'golf course' at Guantanamo Bay on base.  It was really rough.  Sand greens and all that.  This reminded me of that a little bit.

The 'green' is mostly free of rocks.  They took a 2 foot piece of rebar, pounded it through the center of an upside down pie tin, put a 5' piece of PVC pipe over it for the flag stick and attached a little flag at the top.
Then they marked out 18 holes that were between 30-65 yards long.  One of the coolest things we've seen.  I used my 56 degree wedge and Pam used her 7-iron the whole time.  Good news - no three putts and no lost balls, none in the water.

I thought it was good practice in learning how to hit chip shots from the rough.  Growing up and learning to play golf in NM, I sometimes found myself with one of these lies.  'Putting' was not really an option.  Most of the time I worked on a 'blade shot'.  When I was close to the hole, I tried to 'blade' it toward the hole.  The pie tin has a distinctive sound when you 'hole' it.

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time...


  1. Totally Awesome Dude!

    Way back when Kathy and I were RVing around Tucson and San Diego, we read and considered that place, but remembered someone telling us it was as close to hell we would ever come on this Earth. Now I see we should have stayed there a night or two. Thanks for the Recon, if my old RV will still function, I will hit the road with it. That sounds like the only place I could stay without complaints. Now I could kick myself for never going beyond Put Put golf, you are correct as I can only think of one Air Force base without a golf course, they did not have a runway either, so I guess that explains it.
    Thanks again and safe travels

  2. You never know when you will find something fun in a most unusual place. I find myself enjoying the opportunity to play something like this course over a real one, at times. Usually score just as well.:-)

  3. Spent couple of weeks in GITMO in the 70s, somehow missed the golf course:)

  4. May be austere but hookups are always nice. Got a kick out of the golf course - just shows how adaptable the human spirit can be.

  5. Been to Gitmo, too but never played golf there. Didn't have much free time unlike you Air Force folks... ;c)

    I was wondering from your post title if you were required to wear an orange jump suit to play golf there!

  6. Gila Bend....... brings back memories. We were stationed there 1983-85. It was my first move out of The Netherlands and it was 118F!!! when we arrived. What an adjustment! We have really enjoyed our 2 years there. We returned for a visit a couple of years ago and waw, what had it changed!!. No more base housing and now looking at your pictures: playing golf where I used to live...... :-)

  7. Good to know, I had hear that the FamCamp was closed.

  8. Good to get an up close review of the Gila Bend FamCamp. We originally planned to stay there on our way south this trip, but decided instead to boondock about 12 miles north. Next time, if we need hookups...or simply want to view a beautiful stretch of green golf course...we can try it out. Kidding aside, nice to read about it.