There is a golfer from Big Spring who has won the last eight tournaments he has played in. He is also well on his way to capturing the 2020 Northern Texas PGA (NTPGA) Junior Tour Summer Series crown and that much closer to defending his Fall and Spring titles. He has a maturity beyond his years while on the course and an ability to dominate his competition. But this golfer is not thinking about his record-setting pace or his spot in the Texas golf hierarchy. This golfer is just in it for the love of the game.
His name is Trayce Rodriguez.
Trayce is an eight-year old powerhouse that has been dominating his competition since he first started playing competitively a few short years ago. Much like his favorite professional golfer, Tiger Woods, the young linksman has begun his golf journey at a very young age and appears to have all of the potential in the world. He consistently sits atop the leaderboard of his age group and it does not appear that he will lose that spot anytime soon.
While most golfers may stress while on the course, Trayce always keeps his cool and just enjoys the competition.
“It’s really enjoyable,” Trayce said. “Golf is really fun to play, it teaches good sportsmanship, and I just love the sport.”
Trayce has played in just under 20 events since he started playing organized golf and has never finished outside of the Top Three when playing in one of those events. He finished in first place in three events in early March before the start of social distancing and the shutdown of most golf courses because of COVID-19.
Since golf returned at the beginning of this month, Trayce has played in five events throughout West Texas and has won all of them. In fact, in one of the events he played in late last week, the young phenom scored the best round out of any age group (6-18). Even at such a young age, Trayce has picked the game up quickly and has appeared to be a natural since he took one of his first swings of a club.
“When he was about six-years old I could tell that he had a real knack for it,” Trayce’s father Tony Rodriguez said. “He had a real natural swing and he really picked it up.”
Even though he now plays with right-handed clubs, Trayce used left-handed clubs when he first started playing golf. That is just another sign of how no matter what obstacles are put in Trayce’s way, he is likely to overcome them.
Over the course of the last three months, Trayce had not been able to follow his usual daily routine of spending at least one hour practicing at the course and perfecting his craft. However, the Rodriguez’ have around two acres of land in their backyard and a homemade net for Trayce to practice on whenever he wants.
So, while most young golfers skills may have stayed stagnant since March, the young Rodriguez has continued to develop and refine his skills over the past few months.
“I built him a net that hooks onto our garage door so we hit golf balls and we have plenty of space behind our house so we never really stopped practicing,” Tony said.
Trayce’s mother Brandi added, “And he practices in the living room with foam balls. He walks around with a golf club in his hand 24/7. We were very lucky because we didn’t lose any practice time.”
Trayce wants to be a professional golfer when he is older and he is well on his way to achieving that goal. Ever since he first stepped onto the links, he has had a mature demeanor beyond his years and a love and passion for the game that cannot be extinguished.
Even though he has almost won every tournament he has ever entered into, winning does not get old to this prodigy. In fact, it just reinforces to Trayce how much work he has put in.
“It gives me a lot of pride and I’m always proud of myself when I finish in first place because I can see my hard work paying off,” Trayce said.
So, what separates Trayce from all of these other young golfers?
“He’s mentally more mature than these other kids that he’s playing,” Tony said. “He’s always hung around me or my wife on the course, or me and my friends, and I never told him no so he always went and played. That matured him mentally and he picks up the aspects of the game. Whether it’s chipping, putting or hitting irons, he understands. He’s got a real knack for the sport.”
While Trayce has already begun to make his mark on the history of the NTPGA Junior Tour, he is certain to keep improving and developing as he continues to grow and get older. He will be making the leap up to the next age group this winter and that will be a good barometer to see how his skills translate against some older and more experienced young golfers.
There is one thing that the citizens throughout the city and Howard County will soon realize: Trayce Rodriguez is the future of golf in Big Spring and all of West Texas.
And he plans to keep winning for years and years to come.
Shawn Moran is the sports writer at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 432-263-7331.