Your missing out on some cool charts...
Rodrigo Valdes a.k.a. rodrigovaldes
How old are you and what's your occupation?
I'm 48 years old, and I'm the operations manager in a company distributing several lines of supplies, equipment and reagents to hospitals and clinical laboratories.

When did you start playing golf and what's your handicap?
I started "flirting" with golf on an executive course maybe 17 years ago, but I started playing regularly on a par 72 course 9 or 10 years ago. My oobgolf index is 13.9 as on today, and my official index is 12.4 (Mexican Golf Federation). The difference is due to the rounds played alone.

How often do you play?
I play as often as I possibly can. Usually Saturday and Sunday mornings, and maybe once during the weekdays, really early to be at the office around 9, after playing 18 holes. I should practice more, but when I'm at the course ... I just feel like I have to play!

Tell me about a great shot you've made.
I remember a 335 yard driver (I usually hit 250 or 260 yards), right on the center of the fairway in a crazy windy day (almost stormy), and some long shots with a controlled fade or draw to the green, but my favorite is in the short game: a lob shot with a 60 degrees, face completely opened, over a palm tree which was very close to me. I had a 25 or 30 yard shot, from light rough, with the palm tree blocking a pitch shot and a greenside bunker along with the palm tree's trunk preventing a chip shot. The flag was really close to the bunker, and if you fly over the green you go to a lake...

It was almost a full swing. The ball flew up barely clearing the palm tree, landing softly on the green to stop quickly, leaving me with a tap in for par. The shot was perfect and I think Phil Mickelson himself would have been very happy with that shot. It's one of those shots that I'll remember for a long time.

What is your best golf memory?
My father played golf for something like 30 years, but my brothers and I never got into it (I regret that now). After my dad passed away I cherish one golf memory. He came from Mexico City to Cancun, where I live, and stayed at my home for a few days visit. I invited him to play with a couple of friends, but he said he would just walk with us and putt a little bit, since his back was giving him some problems and he couldn't play anymore. On the second hole, a par three, I skulled the ball and sent it -more rolling than flying- straight to a slightly elevated green. I assumed the ball was going to be in a bunker behind the green, or even lost in the bushes behind the bunker, but one of my friends starting yelling like crazy: "it's in the hole; it's in the hole..." We walked to the green to find out that he was right; it was my first (and only, as on today) hole in one. It wasn't a good shot, but it was an ace!

My father was very sentimental in his last years, and he looked at me with an unforgettable "half smile" telling me that he had played for 30 years and never made a hole in one, and he was so happy to be there with me for my first one. That half smile showed pride and joy in his face, but at the same time it was a statement letting me know that it was the luckiest shot ever. He was laughing, but he also was moist-eyed, as if he was close to tears... Now that I write it, my eyes are as his at that moment, and it's a nice feeling! That was the one and only round I ever played with him. Dad, you were right; I was lucky ... and I'm not talking about the hole in one; I was lucky to have you! God bless you.

What is your "home" course?
Riviera Cancun Golf & Resort, a par 72, Jack Nicklaus signature course. In my opinion it's one of the two toughest courses in the Cancun and Riviera Maya area.

What ball do you play?
Honestly? The one that I have available. Of course Pro V1 and Pro V1x feel good, but I like Titleist NXT Tour, since it gets less sidespin in the long shots, and it's not like I'm looking for a great backspin anyway. Another one that I really like is the Callaway HEX Diablo. I feel like I have more control with it ... it usually works for me. Let's say that I like any ball if I play 18 holes with it without losing it :)

Well, this is a tough one. My golf bag was recently "removed" from my car without my consent. Yes, I forgot that my bag was in the car and I left the car in Valet Parking ... and the rest is history. I did not notice it was missing until the day after, so there was nothing to be done. Actually my handicap went from 10.2 to 13.9 in six months, which is the impact of getting used to a different set. What I have now is a set of a very good friend of mine who was really kind and gave me his previous set. I'm looking forward to a club fitting and a new set in the near future, but this is what I have now, using a stiff shaft:

Drivers: TaylorMade R11
Fairway Woods: TaylorMade Burner (2007)
Hybrids: TaylorMade Rescue (2009)
Irons: Titleist Forged 690.MB
Wedges: TaylorMade RAC Z TP
Wedges: Cleveland 588 Black Pearl
Putters: Scotty Cameron Studio Style Newport

Favorite pro?
No question: Tiger Woods. I know it's not a very original choice, but I'm convinced he's the best player in the history of this sport. No one can deny that he has done a lot for the growth of this sport. He's back and he has started winning again, so I think he'll break Jack Nicklaus's 18 majors record. Now, I also look up to Mr. Fred Couples. It's not only the fact that he's a gentleman, but I envy the smoothness and tempo of his swing. Sometimes, when I notice that I'm stressed (after missing more shots than usual) I think of his tempo and my swing falls back where it should be.
From the LPGA: Lorena Ochoa, the only Mexican golfer who has really shined, being number one of the world for a couple of years, not long ago.

Favorite course you've played?
I'll say Palmilla, in the beautiful Cabo San Lucas. Palmilla's so different than the courses in Cancun that it stands out. Cancun is by the Caribbean Sea, which is great, but all of this area is completely flat. The Palmilla Golf Course is in Cabo San Lucas, also by the sea, but in a Mountain area, with desert on one side and the Pacific Ocean at the other, so it's amazing. It's a different challenge, since you have to go over ravines and there are a lot of shots going strongly uphill or downhill. The place is just spectacular!

Dream course you've yet to play?
The one and only: St. Andrews. Of course I wouldn't say no to Augusta National, or Pebble Beach and many more. These courses have so much history that an avid golfer will always want to play there. I don't have any reason to believe this, but I know I'd make a good score!

Best round ever- and what course?
80; I've done it 5 times: at the Golf Club at Pok-ta-Pok, the Iberostar Cancun, and the last time it was at the Playa Mujeres Golf Club. That last one I shot a par 36 in the front nine, with 3 birdies, 3 pars and 3 bogeys ... and a lousy back nine. I'll break 80 this year, or that's the plan.

What is one aspect of your golf game you would like to improve on in the next year?
No question: consistency. I have to get rid of the two or three lousy holes per round which are killing my scores. I have to work the mental part of the game, since one bad hole affects the next one.

Tell me a story.
The Rules jurisdiction of the USGA includes Mexico. I like rules and I have studied them thoroughly by myself and I took an 8 hour a day/3 day Rules seminar, with a 3 ½ hours exam on the fourth day. I was just coming back from that seminar, and my Saturday group decided that we should play a 12 week tournament, playing 100% by the book, and I was going to apply the rules.

Everything started just fine. We counted the clubs in each bag; everyone got there in time to avoid penalty strokes or disqualification ... we were playing 100% by the rules and they'd call me in case of a doubt (a local rule permitted phone calls), or they'd play two balls under rule 3-3.

The most difficult rule to follow: Rule 8: Advice, indicating Line of Play. It was hard keeping all the comments about the wind, the break, mentioning which iron you used ... that was, by far, the hardest rule to obey, but everything was working just fine, or that's what we thought.

On the 18th hole, after hitting a drive to the fairway, one of my friends decided that, since he was done with the driver, he could test the new driver from one of our fellow-competitors ... 2 strokes penalty for a practice shot (at least it was a great shot).

At the 19th hole we found out that the last one to arrive (who got there just in time to start, when we had already counted clubs) had 16 clubs in his bag ... 4 strokes penalty.
But this is the best one. The day after that first round, when I was ready to key in the results to create the leader board, I noticed something; nobody had signed the scorecards! Not even me, the Rule's "expert"!

Well, everybody was disqualified. Believe me, that's an effective way to learn a rule! We almost had a crisis with a strong complaint from the week's winner. In the end, the experience was good for the group and everybody ended up learning a rule that I guess they won't forget. That also sent a clear message that the rules were going to be enforced. After that experience I read the USGA pamphlet on "How to conduct a competition" and it helped me a lot.

I know there are some Rules enthusiasts in the oobgolfcommunity, since I follow the Rules Forum in oobgolf. Usually the Rules guy is not the most popular at certain times, but I think it's very important to know the Rules of any sport if you want to play it.


Interested in being next weeks featured golfer? email us here

[ comments ]
aaronm04 says:
Congrats on GotW, Rodrigo! Your story about playing by the rules--strictly--wants me to do it with my group of regulars.
GolfSmith7 says:
I enjoyed your story about your father what a special memory to have him see your hole in one. God bless you. If you are every in the Harlingen, Mcallen, Brownsville are lets play a round.
DougE says:
Good job Rodrigo. I really enjoyed your story about your dad. Congrats on GOW.
jfurr says:
Thanks for sharing, Rodrigo.
bkuehn1952 says:
Muy bien, Rodrigo! Welcome to the GOW Club.
mrcgamble says:
Great read!!!!
Torleif Sorenson says:
Rodrigo, congratulations on the ace - and such a great story to go with it! Also, 1000 points for studying the rules; the rest of us should do the same.
Duke of Hazards says:
congrats on GOW Rodrigo. nice dad story. must be nice golfing in the Yucatan. crystal clear waters, beautiful weather, iguanas... lots of iguanas. btw - you look like Steve Stricker's latino twin.
biglou11 says:
Enjoyed reading your post. Some of my best golf memories have been playing with my son, father or father in law. Great story about your hole in one. Never had one myself, but hope if I ever do one of them can witness, or I can witness theirs.
Waso says:
Muchas Felicidades Rodrigo!!
Un abrazo
rodrigovaldes says:
Hey guys: I feel honored!

Aaron: playing by the rules may be a challenge. We didn’t anticipate some tensions, which eventually came up, and fortunately could be solved.

Golfsmith: it’s been 12 years since my last visit to McAllen, but I’ll contact you if I visit the area again. Thanks for your comments.

Dough, John, Mrcgamble, Torleif, Biglou: I noticed the ace story with my dad was the one getting most comments. I enjoyed sharing that with the oobgolf community, and I appreciate the fact that you took the time to mention it.

Duke, you’re right: it’s great golfing in the Yucatan! About your comment of me, looking like Steve Stricker’s latino twin… if you could see my swing you’d notice we’re not related!!! LOL

Brian: Thank you my friend, for you help and for your kind comments.

Waso: Espero que juguemos juntos pronto. Espero verte más seguido.
I hope you all have the chance to take a vacation in the area. Let me know if you come to Cancun: It would be great to share a round!

Thank you all again!
Agustin says:
Felicidades Rodrigo, Bienvenido al club.
bsta93 says:
I agree with Duke. The look of your face and the way the hat is placed on your head in the picture reminds me of Stricker right after he makes a big putt.
Chuy Valle says:
Alex Fuente says:
jejejeje buena nota !!! congrat :)
Ben Smith 33 says:
yeah, this is a great GoW.... good to know that gentlemen still play this game.

great read., congrats on GoW
rodrigovaldes says:
Hello Ben! I really want to thank you for your kindness. I’m sorry for not doing it before, but I hadn’t read it until today. If I managed to give you that impression, I guess I must be doing something right, because I do try to behave like a gentleman. Thank you again!
superthrive says:
Just returned to golf this month (and to oobgolf tonight) after an absence of several years. I saw the GoW feature and picked one virtually at random to see what it was about. Wow, what a pleasant surprise this was! Love the story of the flop shot! And your efforts toward learning and playing by the rules are inspiring. Thanks.
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