Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m currently a college freshman at Pitzer College in Southern California and am a member of the Pomona-Pitzer women’s golf team under coach John Wurzer. Right now, I still live in San Jose, California and am taking classes online.
What inspired you to start Latinxgolf.org? How did it go from an idea to a reality?
The lack of diversity in the game and my own experiences as one of the few competitive Latinx high school golfers in my region, drove me to start Latinx Golf in April of 2018.
Golf has afforded me and countless other players opportunities, unlike any other sport: mental strength, confidence, improved academics, and unparalleled networking. I wanted the same for my community, especially for girls, which is why I started Latinx Golf.
The concept and then the actual program came about from a tutoring program with which I was involved. For seven years, I volunteered as a tutor, coordinator, and then as the director of a math tutoring program. As a golfer, I researched ways to integrate STEM into golf to help make both more engaging. After partnering with First Green, an organization that provides K-12 students with an environmental learning lab on the “green,” and working with hundreds of kids at the AT&T Pro-Am STEM zone alongside the inventor of RoboGolf (a golf robot that simulates a desired swing), I decided to start LatinxGolf.org. I later met Greg Fitzgerald, NCPGA Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair, who helped me with improving Latinx Golf. Together, we wrote and received grants that allow us to provide free transportation to and from golf clinics as well as new clubs and bags for low-income families. Our goal is to produce 100 new Latinx student golfers by 2024.
What makes Latinx Golf different from other youth golf organizations?
We provide free golf lessons, clinics and STEM related activities for low-income Latinx elementary through high school students and provide free transportation through HopSkipDrive. We are not aware of any other golf organization or program in the US with this unique offering and demographic focus.
Why do you think diversity in golf is important for the future of the game?
Without engaging people of color, youth in particular, the game of golf doesn’t have a future! The number of golfers has declined for many years now. Without incorporating all people and reaching out to all communities, enrollment will not grow. Those who do have influence in the golf industry must put more of their efforts toward promoting the game of golf as a game for everyone, including Latinx, Black people, and Native Americans. It must become a “norm” to see more people of color out on the course.
What impact has LPGA*USGA Girls Golf has on your life/golf career so far?
As a result of the leadership and confidence skills I gained at the Academy and my passion for diversity and inclusion in golf, I applied and was fortunate to be selected as a member of the first-ever LPGA*USGA Girls Golf eLeader Board of Directors in January 2019 for a 1-year term.
As one of six Directors in the U.S., I helped to support the National Girls Golf staff at LPGA headquarters by developing ideas for growing membership, enhancing the program, and contributing to social media platforms. Without the experience and confidence I gained from the LPGA Leadership Academy, I know I would not have had both personal and professional opportunities as a high school student to contribute, on a national level, to the important role of growing and diversifying golf.
Tell us about your experience at the LPGA Leadership Academy.
As an Academy participant, I not only met other girls, instructors, and executives who were also passionate about golf, but I learned principles and skills that had a significant impact on my own game and in helping to strengthen Latinx Golf.
I implemented many of the fun lessons and tips from the Academy into my Latinx Golf clinics. The blind-folded trust putting exercise was, by far, the most popular activity we incorporated as it not only breaks the ice for players, but it generates a lot of laughter!
What is a typical day/week like for you? How have you been adapting during COVID-19?
A typical day is one full of classes and homework at my desk and on my computer, while fitting in golf practice. I think that’s pretty much the norm for most college golf students today.
To adapt during the pandemic, our golf team has had to adopt new ways of practice, training and building bonds. Using technology like Blast and Golf Metrics, we’ve been able to track data on our swings and playing scores. On every Sunday, our coach holds team meetings via Zoom to not only discuss our individual game, but also engage us in building relationships with our team members.
What are your plans for the future personally and for Latinx Golf?
In college, I plan to pursue an interdisciplinary approach between my chosen discipline of study, chemistry, and golf. To further my research interests in chemistry, I will subsequently attend graduate school to obtain a master’s degree.
From a personal and career standpoint, I plan to expand Latinx Golf, with sites throughout the U.S. and to work as a materials scientist on teams that develop better golf equipment as well as contribute to the development of non-toxic golf ball production in support of our ecosystems and environment.
What drives you?
Helping play a role in improving our environment on a daily basis, in my academics and career so that future generations will have a healthy and sustainable planet to live to further create positive change for all—that’s what drives me!