By ALEXANDER LOPEZ
One thing that you almost can always find around Tucson is an open golf course.
With the endless Tucson sunlight and heat, almost every day is a perfect day for 18 holes, and for Pima Community College facilities employee Albert Quihuis, his life wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for one.
Growing up in the Barrio Hollywood neighborhood on the West Side of Tucson, life wasn’t always the easiest or the safest.
As the youngest of seven children, childhood became even more difficult when his father passed away and his mom was forced to take the reins of the family.
With all of the craziness of life, Quihuis would find his serenity on the course, hitting round after round.
He would hit buckets of golf balls until he had blisters on his hand, only to come back the next day and get right back to it. That’s not to mention the mile walk to the course and back.
To Quihuis, something always kept drawing him back, something like a calling.
After having a child at a young age, Quihuis was forced into the working world to provide for his newly created family and ensure the success of his baby girl.
After years of brutal work in the tough Arizona heat, though, his back gave out and forced him to abandon his source of income in the construction business.
He then turned his sights on Pima to attend school.
After graduating from PCC in 1983, Quihuis was hired by his alma mater and has been with the college for 35 years. He is currently the supervisor of operations for the Downtown Campus.
“I was looking for stability and somewhere that would support my family and I could spend my career at,” Quihuis said.
Even with the jam-packed schedule of his new career, back injury and his growing family, he always found his way back to the course.
It became the epicenter of his family.
With the addition of his son, all four of them would find the connection through the game of golf, from hitting balls at the driving range to lunch wagers on 18 holes.
His love for the game and connection that it gave the individuals playing drove him to create the invitational that would change the Pima golf program forever.
In 1983, Quihuis and his coworkers set a goal to give back to the college and created the first Pima Community College Invitational.
With the only form of advertisement being word of mouth, Quihuis and his team were able to get 35 employees to buy slots to participate, with all proceeds going to the golf program at Pima.
By the fourth or fifth invitational, all 144 slots had been sold out within days.
Most of the original participants formed a committee to manage the events and make sure the money would always end up going back to the college.
Backed by sponsors like Pepsi and Casino Del Sol, everyone who participated walked away with door prizes.
Most importantly, the college continued to receive the proceeds from the event to update equipment and offer scholarships to incoming freshman and also some invitational participants.
“This is why I do it,” said Quihuis, knowing that the traditions and the invitational will go on long after he’s gone.
Quihuis remained on the committee for the invitational for 15 years before passing it to William Ward, who is the vice chancellor for facilities and college police at PCC.
“The PCC Foundation Golf Tournaments have been a great way for us to engage the community and Albert has been there from the beginning,” Ward said. “He’s an amazing guy.”
Even though Quihuis no longer golfs in the competition, he still makes his presence felt by attending invitational events and donating to the advancements of young golfers in Southern Arizona, and more importantly, Pima.
“Out of the small vision I had, for golf (and) for the employees, we now have this,” Quihuis said.