It was a simple idea. Convince local businesses to donate items for a fundraiser, sell some tickets, hand out prizes and use the proceeds to fund programs for young golfers.
After 24 years, it’s one of the annual events those involved in golf in particular and youth sports in general anticipate as a highlight of the Pahrump social calendar.
The Pahrump Valley Youth Golf Founders Club’s annual Quarter Auction brought more than 200 people to the Grill Room at Mountain Falls Golf Club, but its roots are a bit more humble.
“I had attended one of these for Southern Nevada Junior Golf in Las Vegas. we talked about it and we couldn’t quite pull the trigger,” recalled Larry Goins, president of the Founders Club. “It took us two or three years, but we finally decided to do it.”
“When we first started the Quarter Auction, we had it at the hall next to the Catholic church,” added Elaine Goins, the organization’s treasurer, referring to the Knights of Columbus hall. “Standing room only. That’s where we started, and people actually threw quarters in.”
The name stems from using quarters to indicate interest in bidding on a certain item, but there are some drawbacks to that procedure.
“We would haul them home and we’d have to take them to the bank on Monday,” Elaine Goins said. “We have some stories to tell about those experiences, like opening the door and having a tub of quarters come falling out.”
Remembering the days of using quarters brought back some memories for the Goinses, including one involving Las Vegas Review-Journal sports writer Todd Dewey.
“There was a pie house here that made homemade pies, and they donated some pies,” Larry Goins recalled. “We draw it, and it’s Todd’s number, and he hadn’t put his quarter in. So we were ridiculing him a little bit. A little while later, we draw another one out, and it’s beauty aids from Mary Kay or whatever. And Todd wins it. So then it got worse. ‘Oh, you don’t put in for pies, but you’re in for the beauty aids.’”
While the name has stuck, the procedure is simpler these days. The $60 ticket price entitled attendees to a paddle and a ball, each marked with a number. Participants dropped their ball into a hopper at the front of the room, and numbered balls were drawn for each of the 161 prizes.
Abandoning quarters did not guarantee a foolproof event.
“Probably about 10 years ago, we’re all sitting at the table and it’s the first break of the Quarter Auction,” Elaine Goins said. “And Larry Thompson — Wilma’s husband — is like, ‘Damn, I never win.’ And we’re like, ‘What is in your pocket?’ His ball. He hadn’t put his ball in the hopper.
“That was a story that lived on for a long time.”
The event has moved from the Knights of Columbus to Lakeside Casino & RV Resort to the Pahrump Nugget and now to the Grill Room at Mountain Falls. And while a crowd of a little more than 200 might not seem huge, participants have enjoyed it so much over the years they take steps to ensure they are not left out.
“I used to put in the paper that the Quarter Auction was on such-and-such date and tickets would be available at 7 a.m. on whatever day,” Larry Goins said. “The first year I did that, I showed up to work that morning at about quarter to seven, and there were 25 people lined up outside my door waiting to buy tickets.”
In fact, how big of an event the Quarter Auction has become was once a source of some competitiveness.
“The Rotary Club was doing their $10,000 supper drawing that they do,” Larry Goins said. “A good friend of ours, Roxanne Thurlow, whose husband Rich, owned the Pahrump Valley Times, she always would tell us that the Rotary dinner was the social event of the year in Pahrump. And I said, no, it isn’t. So I started putting on my tickets when I printed them ‘Premier Social Event of the Year.’ So we had a little competition going that way.”
Friendly competition, Elaine Goins said, noting that the Thurlows have served on the club’s board and that their son, Michael, went through the junior golf program. And youth golf is the whole point of the Quarter Auction.
“We’ve always been there supporting golf,” Elaine Goins said. “First it was the high school team, then the middle school team.”
“I think we had 135 prizes and we probably had about that many attendees,” Larry Goins said of the first Quarter Auction. “We made $3,000, and we thought it was the greatest fundraiser we had ever seen in our life. Today, if we don’t have $3,000 when everybody comes through the door, we’d be devastated.”
Nobody was feeling devastated Saturday night. Just before the auction began, Quarter Auction committee member Liz Fraser, who was helping staff the table at the Grill Room’s entrance, said 198 people had purchased a paddle, with a few more expected to be fashionably late.
“Usually we’re near 200, sometimes we go over,” Fraser said. “Luckily the community has been very generous and this goes to wonderful scholarships for kids. It’s been a very successful program out here.”
Do the math and it’s 198 people paying $60 per ticket, totaling $11,880, and that’s before the 50/50 and any separate items that might be auctioned off during the proceedings.
“Every kid that’s in the program who graduates usually gets something, usually $1,000,” Larry Goins explained. “But the top one gets $5,000, and it’s $500 the first year, $1,000 the second, $1,500 the third and $2,000 the fourth, so the further they advance the better it gets for them.”
There was a wide variety of prizes on the table Saturday night, from rounds of golf and golf equipment to a cake from Dairy Queen to gift certificates and cash.
“We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the donors,” Larry Goins said. “When the Floyds had Ace Hardware here, Julie Floyd, who was the girls high school golf coach, was very instrumental in helping us do this. They would give her carte blanche to walk through and pick out what she wanted. So we always had a display. One year it was a whole tiki bar.
“One other year we gave away a horse. A friend of ours actually won it. Paul Brecht, who was the boys basketball coach, won it, and before he got out of there he sold the horse for $700, and everybody was happy.”
No horses exchanged hands Saturday night, but for the 24th time a couple hundred people got together to have some fun, win some prizes and help youth golf in Pahrump.
“It’s been wonderful,” Elaine Goins said. “It’s opened a lot of doors for a lot of kids.”