The Mexican-American golf league began during the mid-1960s. As a start up league; membership was targeted to golfers of Mexican decent, or golfers who were married to a person of Mexican descent. The league had its beginnings during a period when golf within the Mexican community was not widespread. Instead, many members were recruited from local baseball (hardball) and softball teams. The league also sponsored many tournaments that attracted Mexican golfers from all over the Mid-west. Golfers from Sterling, Rockford, Chicago, Galesburg, Iowa City, Des Moines as well as the Bi-state Quad Cities participated in a format that required golfers to play their own ball. 4-person best ball tournaments were not yet thought of. In return, Quad Citians golfing in the Mexican Golf League participated in golf tournaments sponsored by other cities.
Today, the league takes form in the Mexican-American Golf League and is open to all nationalities. It continues as one of the oldest leagues in the Bi-state Quad Cities with 28 members. The league honors those who had the vision to start the league 50-some years ago by recognizing golfers who played roles in the leagues existence and longevity by inducting select golfers into the Mexican-American Golf League Hall of Fame. Existing members of the Hall of Fame are: Tony Soliz, Joe Navarro, Gonzalo ‘Nene’ Lopez, Hank Navarro, Steve Hernandez, and the 2015 Inductee Paul Palos Sr.
Today’s league is made up of a wide range of golfers from different walks of life including a former Moline Mayor, former Police Detective, retired Federal Employees, Accountants and Business Managers. The 2014 roster had 50% of the league as; father-son, brothers, or Primo relatives as its membership. Although that percentage has dropped slightly in 2015, relatives continue to gather as members of the league for a Thursday night’s round of golf.
Tony Soliz, one of the original members back in the 60s continues to golf as a regular in today’s league. He has missed only 1 year in the span of the league. The second longest tenured golfer is John Nache who has golfed in the league since 1977. Although John was a substitute for a few years during that span he has only missed 1 year. Presently John and Tony serve as the league’s President and Vice-President respectively.
The tradition continues this Sunday September 20 at Indian Bluff Golf Course.