Since its inaugural year in 1977, the Pinto Bean Classic has become known as one of the most popular tournaments in Southwest Colorado.
Numerous amateur golfers have competed in the annual classic, and scores of memories have been made on Conquistador Golf Course’s fairways and greens.
On Aug. 17-18, the 40th Pinto Bean tournament took place, and by the time the two-round tournament was done, organizers and participants agreed this year’s tournament was one of the most memorable.
Emerging victorious from a field of 215 golfers was Cortez native and former Montezuma-Cortez High School standout Chris Aiken, whose two-round score of 3-under-par 141 was good enough to take top honors.
“I hit the ball really well, but I didn’t putt real well,” said Aiken, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2017 before losing in a playoff to Cristoffer Rudosky last year. “I played pretty well on Saturday and finally, on the back nine (on Sunday), I got the putter rolling.”
Although Aiken’s score was good enough to best second-place Eric Frazier by five shots, his victory was anything but a sure thing after he began the final nine holes trailing by four shots.
But Aiken built momentum with an eagle on the 10th hole and followed up with a birdie on the 11th. Solid play over the final seven holes allowed the Cortez native to bring home the championship.
“The first time that I won the (Pinto Bean Classic) was probably the most special, but winning (this year) is a close second,” Aiken said. “I lost to Cristoffer Rudosky in a playoff last year, and that stung a big. It was nice to come back and win again.”
While Rudosky fell short in the gross scoring category, the former Fort Lewis College golfer who will play for Missouri Western University this season acquitted himself well and finished first in the net category with a net score of 141.
Although Rudosky’s struggles with the putter put him out of contention during the second round, the former M-CHS standout spoke glowingly about the Pinto Bean.
“The Pinto Bean is a way for the community to get together,” Rudosky said. “We’ve got 215 players, and the Tanners do a really good job of setting the tournament up. It’s a way for everyone to have fun and play some golf together.”
The Pinto Bean Classic also honored its popular traditions of a long-drive competition Friday night, which was won by Jakob Rudosky, and a fireworks show Saturday evening.
Several individuals and local businesses were honored for 40 years of service, including Dean Hanson, Tom Bryant, Jack and Terry Tanner, Frankie Niffer, Paul Glaviano, Bill Hutchison, Keenan Ertel, Larry Don Suckla, Kessee Motor Co. and the Cortez Women’s Golf Association.
As the sun sank below the horizon after the tournament’s final round, numerous organizers and golfers shared dinner and laughs at the Cortez Elks Club while toasting to another exciting tournament.
“(The Pinto Bean Classic) is an awesome tournament,” Aiken said. “The Tanners put a lot of work into it, and Micah Rudosky and Annette Rudosky do a wonderful job of running the shop and the golf course. I think that myself and everyone who plays here appreciates the tournament and what they do.”