David Fitzsimmons: Enke, El Rio soon may become prime habitat for endangered golf shanker

2012-11-10T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T10:56:20Z David Fitzsimmons: Enke, El Rio soon may become prime habitat for endangered golf shankerDavid Fitzsimmons Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tucson's Fred Enke Golf Course, and possibly portions of El Rio Golf Course, could soon face a remarkable transformation, and I am here to help. I've already written the brochure:

Welcome to the Southern Arizona Male Primate Wildlife Sanctuary, the world famous Fred Enke Nature Park & Wildlife Preserve for the Endangered Duffer. This rare preserve is more than just yellowing turf, growing sand dunes, shrinking wetlands and diverse ecological communities. Fred Enke is home to the endangered Gila Hacker, the Southern Arizona Sandbagger and countless other species of the world's dwindling population of golfers.

Even though this site is no longer a golf course, golfers still come to Fred Enke like the migrating swallows who return to San Juan Capistrano.

These threatened beauties are the catalyst behind a remarkable joint effort between Pima County, the city of Tucson and the Arizona Game and Fish Department to conserve this disappearing way of life. While working to ensure a future for the Sansabelt Blue Hair, the Full-Throated Whiffer and other imperiled species, Fred Enke invites people of all ages to enjoy the protected lands, appreciate the area's beauty and recall the age of the Triple Bogey.

What can be more chilling than hearing the mournful coyote cry or a Homo Mulliganus crying "fore" to cactus wrens in a prickly pear patch where once there was a fairway?

On the 45-minute Golf Safari tram ride, you will experience the heart of Arnold Palmer's America in the heart of Southern Arizona. While riding in an air-conditioned vehicle, you can expect a personal encounter with retirees, bachelors, husbands and the occasional female of the species roaming their former habitat out of habit. You may see a Gila Hacker waggling on what used to be a teeing ground or a Southern Arizona Sandbagger wistfully sifting sand in a sand trap! There's something to text home about!

Our unobstructed photo platforms provide excellent opportunities for shutterbugs hoping to spy a rare foursome wandering aimlessly in search of a hobby, a memory or just a refuge "to escape the wife." You may catch pros in full polyester plumage overlooking their former domain and reminiscing about birdies and eagles.

On your way out visit our world-class museum and learn the history of golf, a game that was played by adults in the late 20th century. The object of the game was to hit a small white ball into 9 or 18 holes with as few strokes and as few foul words as possible.

Visit the archaeological dig where our team has found pottery shards, golf balls, drivers and tees dating back to the Hogan Era.

If you're not up for the Fred Enke preserve, I have an alternative outing to recommend that makes the hairs stand up on my head straighter than a hillside of silver saguaros: The Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum's Raptor Free Flight Program.

You'll be amazed by their family of Harris hawks as they fly directly over your sunburned head demonstrating their hunting skills, stealing toupees and strafing Dutch tourists.

Bring the whole family, even the depressed golfer.

My 10-year old had been getting on my nerves all week. With the help of his teen-age brother, we slathered raw chicken meat on junior's head and brought the protesting turnip along. It was just like that unforgettable "Flintstones" episode penned by the brilliant Hanna and Barbera when a purple pterodactyl swooped down on the Rubble family and carried Bamm-Bamm off to some volcano west of Yogi Bear's den. We laughed and laughed.

We return every year just like the whales off Cabo. One year my wife and I saw a female hawk swoop down on a flock of snowbirds who put up a pretty good fight, waving their canes and walkers. That "survival of the fittest" featurette was over in 20 seconds. All that was left were tufts of blue hair and the keys to a Winnebago. It was awesome. We applauded, asked for our hats back and walked to the Cottonwood snack shop singing Elton John's "Circle of Life" song from "The Lion King". Even a golfer would have enjoyed those birdies.

Email Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons: tooner@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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