PGA of America Board Member and Teaching Professional Tony Martinez is proud that his entire family has taken up golf with a passion.
His parents, Henry and Lillian Martinez, are recreational golfers, but they did not take to the sport until their son embraced it. Martinez’s wife, Gretchen, and their three children are all golf lovers, too. And not only as players, but pitching in at Keeton Park Golf Course in Dallas, which the family manages.
Calvin, 21, plays on the PGA Mexican Tour and also teaches golf at Estrella Del Mar Resort and Club in Mazatlán, Mexico. During the offseason, he works at both Keeton Park and Oeste Ranch Golf Course in Willow Park, Texas.
Ty, 22, is a PGA Associate Golf Professional at Keeton Park, handling all facets of golf course management and operations, including play, teaching, tournaments and more.
Emma, 23, played high school golf and worked in the family business at Keeton Park before pursuing a career in ministry.
Gretchen—also a long time golfer —has been a crucial part of developing and overseeing Martinez’s growing golf empire, which includes not only the operations at Keeton Park but also managing the Tony Martinez School of Golf and programs at several other facilities, located primarily in the southwestern United States and Mexico.
“We have a public-private partnership where I manage the golf operations at Keeton Park, in collaboration with the city of Dallas,” says Tony Martinez. “So, we’re facilitating the customer experience at the golf course, whether people are there to play in a tournament, coming for a junior clinic, practicing or just want to have lunch.”
Martinez likens his business to a family farm.
“People talk about the long hours and the sacrifices they make,” he says. “We’re very much the same way. We work on weekends and holidays. We work from early in the morning until dark. It’s meaningful and in your blood. ”
Martinez’s focus on family also applies to his philosophy for teaching golf. When junior golfers come for help or to first learn the game, he encourages their parents or guardians to join in. After all, golf is one of the few sports in which people of all ages can actively participate—unlike soccer, football or baseball, where parents are relegated to the sidelines or bleachers while their sons or daughters play.
“I immediately try to get mom or dad involved, encouraging them to come out of the pro shop or off the bench and participate during golf lessons,” Martinez says. “That’s because I understand that if they’re engaged, the chances go way up that their kids are going to be involved in golf for the rest of their lives. I make the conscious effort to do that. And if people are hesitant to join in, maybe because they’re scared or intimidated, I just point out that they and their child can benefit from learning together. They get to be the same golf age, both beginners, after all.”
2017 Golf Professional of the Year – Tony Martinez from Northern Texas PGA
Martinez also views the PGA of America as an extension of his family. Many of his colleagues have become lifelong friends, which is part of why he’s so active in the organization.
After his term as Northern Texas PGA Section President ended in 2017, he went on to become District 12 Director on the PGA of America Board of Directors, representing the Northern Texas, Southern Texas and Sun Country PGA Sections (from Texas to New Mexico).
“People sometimes ask me how I find the time to do everything I do, being on the national board, involved in committees and overseeing a large district,” Martinez remarks.
“The Association has served me so well. I feel it’s my responsibility to give back, and the more I serve, the more the organization can give back to golfers.”
The same holds true with his efforts to bring more people from the Latinx community to golf, mentoring young people who have backgrounds similar to his. It’s a reflection of how he was inspired at the age of 13 by PGA Professional Homero Blancas.
“I found a connection with someone who looked like me, and I hope young Latinos can find a similar connection with me, so I can help spread the joy of the game,” said Martinez.
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