Tony Martinez passes along his passion for the game.
Tony Martinez can tell you precisely the moment his career path came into sharp focus.
He was 13 at the time, and already an accomplished junior golfer, when destiny presented itself in the person of legendary PGA Professional Homero Blancas, dressed smartly that day in red and white.
The occasion was a community outreach day at the neighborhood golf course, the kind of event Martinez had attended many times before. But that day, Blancas made an immediate and lasting impression.
When I saw him I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a golf professional at a municipal course, said Mr. Martinez.
He has since realized that goal, and then some. Today, Martinez is the PGA head golf professional at Keeton Park Golf Course in southeast Dallas, where his passion for the sport and for teaching is on full display.
Among the many initiatives that he oversees at Keeton Park is the Tony Martinez School of Golf, an instructional program he launched years earlier at Hidden Oaks Golf Course in Granbury, Texas.
Golf has become instructor-centered, when it really should be student-centered, he said of his teaching philosophy. Over the last 20 years, his students have included beginners, professional tour-level players, and amateurs at all skill levels in between.
Golf instruction should ultimately be about measurable goals and the experience of golfing, as opposed to obsessing over technique and fundamentals, though of course those things have their place as well, he said.
Martinez began developing his approach to the game early, having taken up golf in his native Tucson at age 8. His precocious skill on the links led Grand Canyon University in Phoenix to award him a full golf scholarship.
After graduating with a degree in communications in 1991, he was assistant professional at Pine Top Country Club in Northern Arizona before returning to his home course, Tucsons Fred Enke Municipal, where he went from assistant professional to interim head professional in less than two years. He earned his Class A membership in The PGA of America in 1994, and was promptly recruited to help create the Signature Golf Academy at the Tournaments Players Club Starr Pass, also in Tucson.