For me, as a kid
growing up in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, golf was invisible. Hell, I
was invisible, if not disposable. I was a young Mexican-American who didn't
know his father and whose mother left him to be raised by a grandmother. In
golf terms I started life OB, three-putt, snowman.
My first memory
of golf was watching it on TV, where I saw someone who not only looked like me,
but someone who had grown up dirt-poor and been abandoned by his father yet had
gone on to become one of the greatest players of all time. Because of Lee
Trevino, I was the first person in my family to wield a club that wasn't swung
in anger. Trevino became my symbol of opportunity.
ensuing years I turned my opportunity into professional success, which
eventually allowed me to become friends with Trevino. This past September, I
lured Lee back to Pebble Beach for the first time in 22 years to be my
professional partner in the Wal-Mart First Tee Champions tour event.
Lee and I had
scheduled a practice round for the day before the event. He wanted to go to
Cypress Point, one of the most exclusive courses in the world, but I had
already booked us a time at Pebble. Luckily, I persuaded him to come over, or
we would have missed one of the proudest moments of both of our lives.
As we strolled
toward the green on Pebble's 3rd hole, a downhill par-4, the sight of two
Mexican golfers with white caddies caught the attention of the maintenance
staff. (I guess the fact that it was Lee and me had something to do with that
All work stopped,
and many of the laborers gathered to watch us play through. I realized that, in
a way, Lee and I were walking symbols of opportunity for these men, who were
working so hard to prepare the course--and to create a better life for their
superintendent approached and asked if we wouldn't mind getting in a photo with
his guys. I noticed a large lawn mower nearby and asked to have it brought
over. Then I called to Lee, and we all climbed aboard. You'll notice in the
photo that the driver's seat is empty. That's to symbolize that we are all
equal and that anyone, regardless of race, gender or financial status, can rise
to captain the ship and control his or her fate. Lee did, I did, and so will
It's my favorite
shot of all time, and the photo hangs proudly in both Lee's house and my
appropriate that it was taken with a disposable camera.