Trevino takes a slice out of life

  • Published
  • By Capt. David Martinez
  • 71st Flying Training Wing HC
Have you ever had a love-hate relationship? Maybe it was with a pet, car, person or team. I have a love-hate relationship with golf. When I play well I love it! When I play poorly I hate it! I call golf the bipolar game; most golfers could use a licensed therapist. I asked a golf partner why he never got angry his response was, "Dave, I've been disappointed too many times." He definitely needed some couch time.

Because golf is such an excruciating game, the amateur worships Tiger Woods, for no mortal could be that good. For Latinos, Lee Trevino was our hero, a proud Mexican American, a true champion.

Lee Buck Trevino was born Dec. 1, 1939, in Dallas, to parents of Mexican descent. His mother and grandfather, a gravedigger, raised Trevino in a house without electricity or indoor plumbing. He never knew his father. Trevino's childhood amounted to him spending time attending school occasionally and working to help earn money for the family. At the age of 5, he started working in the cotton fields.

Trevino was introduced to golf when his uncle gave him a few old golf balls and a rusty club. He spent most of his free time sneaking into nearby country clubs to practice his new love. At 8 years old, he began caddying at a local golf course. After eighth grade, Trevino had to leave school in order to go to work. As a caddy and a shoe shiner, Trevino worked for $30 a week. At the age of 17, Trevino enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marines provided the perfect, stable environment for a directionless young man, and over the last 18 months in the service, a great deal of his time was spent playing golf with Marine Corps officers. Trevino himself claims that his time spent being a desirable golf partner helped earn him a promotion to sergeant. On returning to civilian life, Trevino wasted little time continuing his relationship with the game, and for the next five years, his life revolved around working and playing in golf clubs. Trevino made the PGA Tour in1967 and through his career won 29 times, including six majors. He was at his best in the early 1970s, winning the money list title in 1970, and picking up 10 wins in two seasons in 1971 and 1972.

Throughout his career, Trevino was seen as one of the more approachable and humorous of PGA golfers, and was frequently quoted by the press. "How can they beat me? I've been struck by lightning, had two back operations and have been divorced twice." Or he would share a golf nugget for the ages, "I have never seen a short putt go in the hole." 

Lee Trevino played golf with three U.S. presidents, traveled all over the world and was proud to be a Mexican American.

He showed that a guy from across the tracks, a minority kid with no education from a very poor background could make it! Lee Trevino has established numerous scholarships and continues to offer assistance to many Mexican Americans who are less fortunate. He preaches that sports are great and kids should be encouraged to play them, but going to school needs to be the highest priority.

If you are having a love-hate relationship with your significant other, come see the author of this article. Don't be afraid of some good couch time.