Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
The last time John Jojola competed in the National Senior Games he won the gold medal in golf.
But that was 2013 in the 55-59 age division in Cleveland.
So what happened in 2015 and 2017?
Jojola (pronounced Ho-Ho-La) of the Isleta Pueblo qualified for those National Senior Games, but he said he was not interested in visiting and competing in Minnesota in 2015 and then in Birmingham, Ala. two years ago.
Well, now he has no reason to miss these National Senior Games.
“It’s right in my backyard,” said Jojola, who won the bronze medal in 2011 in Houston. “The golf course that we’re playing at (UNM Championship Golf Club) is only like 10 minutes away. One good thing about it is that I don’t have to book any airline flights and hotel reservations. When they said it was going to be in Albuquerque, I said, ‘Oh, I can qualify for this one and play in it.'”
Maybe he’ll win.
Jojola said it would be nice to win the silver medal; that way he would have all three medals. However, he made it clear that he’s aiming for gold.
Jojola does not lack for confidence. When people wish him good luck, he’ll usually reply: “I don’t need luck. I’m good.”
He’ll tee off in the first of three rounds at 10:40 a.m. on Monday at UNM Championship Golf Club. Golf competition for the National Senior Games also takes place at Sandia and Santa Ana golf clubs.
Jojola is competing in the 65-69 age division, as he turns 65 in October.
He isn’t the only one from Isleta Pueblo in the National Senior Games for golf. He actually isn’t even the only Jojola that will be teeing it up at UNM Championship.
Playing in his group will be Rudy Jojola.
Kenneth Jojola is competing in the men’s 60-65 division.
Patty Jojola is in the women’s 60-65 division and also starts on Monday.
“We’re not all related,” Patty said. “We just all have the same last name.”
Said John: “It’s a common last name, like Smith or Jones, but common at the Isleta Pueblo.”
John said he knows his fellow Jojolas well, especially Rudy since they play in the same age group.
In 2016 at the New Mexico Senior Olympics, to qualify for the National Senior Games, John won silver while Rudy captured gold. Then in the 2018 New Mexico Senior Olympics, John took gold and Rudy bronze.
Patty said they are all part of the Elder Center, a senior group at the Isleta Pueblo that helps them stay active. John enjoys playing golf.
“He plays every day, I think,” Patty said of John.
John said he likes to play so that he can win money.
“Rudy’s a 5 and I’m a 6 handicap,” John said. “But sometimes he’s not at my level. Like (on June 5), he had to dish out some money.”
John said he was among a group of four men who played for money after a tournament. They each put in $20.
“They had to pay me 20 bucks each,” John said. “See? That’s the whole challenge part. I mean, you’re not a professional to where you’re winning millions of dollars, but the 20 bucks you get from your buddy is worth all the effort and all the practices you do. It’s just challenging to me.”
John is retired after working for 32 years at Sandia National Laboratories. He said he has lived on the Isleta Pueblo his whole life.
Patty, 63, retired from Sandia Labs after working there for 33 years. She said she wanted to work for her tribe. She’s now the director of administrative services at the Isleta Pueblo Health Center.
This is her sixth time competing in the National Senior Games, as she started in 2009. Unlike John, she made the trips to Minnesota in ’15 and Birmingham in ’17. Her best finish came in Houston in 2011. She came in fifth and was awarded a ribbon. She wants a medal now, but she knows it will be challenging at UNM Championship.
“Overall, I would just like to accomplish three days of solid play,” Patty said. “UNM is a tough course, very challenging. I belong to the women’s association there. I just want to play solid golf. It’s a large group from all over the country. The competition will be there. It would be nice to place in the top three.”