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Outlaws of Half Moon Bay: Horseshoe club pitches for ringers with friends
September 06, 2013, 05:00 AM By Kenny Martin Daily Journal

Kenny Martin/Daily Journal
Bill Terry, left, club secretary, and Patty Davis, a new member, pick up their horseshoes during a Half Moon Bay Outlaws scrimmage at Smith Field.

The Outlaws play on Thursdays.

The Half Moon Bay horseshoe club so-named since they place a good time over a good score play at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, to be exact. And it is then that the Outlaws throw horseshoes, hone their skills, reminisce about memories gone by and lay the foundation for new ones. The club’s home is at the end of a dirt road off Highway 1, a place called Smith Field, where 16 horseshoe courts can be found next to a sign that states simply “we play on Thursdays.”

The Half Moon Bay club currently consists of 24 members, and is one of the 21 horseshoe clubs in northern California.

Bill Terry, the club secretary, is the man who made the unused land off the Highway 1 suitable for organized horseshoe gatherings in 1989, and he is still the person primarily responsible for maintaining the area. From time to time, you may see him mowing the grass around the courts, pulling weeds, replacing wood around the stakes or reapplying paint on the stakes, among other things.

Terry, a Half Moon Bay native who’s been to seven world tournaments and has won three state tournaments, got started in horseshoes when he was 8. After church, a lot of people would play on Main Street for a few hours, and Terry became fascinated with the game. Soon, Terry was playing every chance he got, even bringing horseshoe gear on family camping trips.

Rick Della Santina is the current president of the Half Moon Bay horseshoe club. How he came to be president is a funny little story. At a picnic 22 years ago, Della Santina first picked up a horseshoe, and he had a lot of fun playing and competing at it. So, he immediately set about getting information about organized play from a horseshoe store operator down in Southern California, and was thrilled to find there was a place in Half Moon Bay, as he lives in Pacifica.

“I was in seventh heaven just to see this existed,” Della Santina said. “I saw the sign said ‘we play on Thursdays.’ I showed up and started being a member and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

When the club was holding its first meeting for the season, Della Santina didn’t show up and the club voted him president because of it. Evidently, he did a good job because Della Santina’s been president several more times in recent years. Della Santina loves working with and being around the horseshoe community as well.

“What I enjoy most about horseshoe pitching is the people,” Della Santina said. “I first started out with that sports mentality of baseball or football where you win with the highest intensity. As I started showing up and playing, I realized everybody was so nice I completely lost my killer instinct. The whole group is a good bunch of people. It’s just been a fantastic experience.”

Organized horseshoe play in Northern California is held together by Cathy Kauffman, who is in her first year as president of the NorCal Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Kauffman’s duties involve overseeing three major tournaments each year — the state, team and NorCal championships. In addition to running these big tournaments, Kauffman participates in many tournaments as well. On Saturday, Aug. 17, Kauffman competed in the Joe Sciarra Open at Smith Field. Kauffman decided to run for president because she felt some of the skills she has can better the sport her father and uncle introduced to her years ago.

“It’s a great recreational sport where you can get lots of exercise,” Kauffman said. “It’s very social, but there’s a competitive edge to it.”

The social aspect of horseshoes is something the group in the Half Moon Bay horseshoe club believes in wholeheartedly. They call themselves the outlaws because they are looking to have a good time above strictly adhering to rules and restrictions. Examples of their humor can be found in little things, such as in some of the club’s tournaments when they award a bottle of wine which they state was made from grapes fermented in their car, or the outhouses displaying a sign saying “used beer dept.” This attitude has made the Half Moon Bay horseshoe club the group people want to hang with on overnight stays during tournaments, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

To see a video slide show of the club go to



Tags: horseshoe, della, tournaments, santina, president, kauffman,

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