Game Changers

The Family Martinez: A PGA of America Father's Day Story

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Published on

Being a PGA of America Golf Professional goes beyond the business of the game, beyond the long hours, the numbers and the dollars and cents.
It's all about the people: the customers, your colleagues in the industry, the relationships. It’s a family. For PGA of America Golf Professional Tony Martinez, the word family means even more.
As Tony celebrated his 30th anniversary of PGA Membership just a few weeks ago, his son Ty became a PGA Member almost to the day. A stellar father and son duo serving their public golfers at Keeton Park Golf Course in Dallas, Texas.
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Tony Martinez started playing the game of golf at 8 years old after his dad took up the game and shared the experience with his son.
“We moved to a small golf course community when I was a kid,” Tony shares. “My dad started playing the game, and I joined the junior program, which was part of a progressive and strong growth of the game initiative that created access for kids to play in Tucson.”
In 1984, Tony started working at a new municipal course called Fred Enke Golf Course and quickly realized that he wanted a future in the game. He worked under PGA of America Golf Professionals Terry Wilks and Rex Worrell, who, as he says, “modeled the behavior of a PGA Professional.”
“I watched what they did, wanted to do what they were doing and wanted to be who they were,” Martinez says. “Being a PGA of America Golf Professional came with that desire, and I had a specific vision of working in public golf and being a business owner.”
Tony played golf in high school and for four years at Grand Canyon University. Soon after, Martinez moved to Texas to pursue his dream of facility ownership under Worrell’s tutelage.
Ty Martinez grew up in Granbury, Texas, the middle child of Tony and Gretchen Martinez. He was always interested in golf.
“I would pull carts in the morning at Hidden Oaks where my dad was the pro, play all day with other kids and then help wash those same carts at the end of the day,” Ty recalls.
Ty appreciated the fun and social aspect of the game more than the super competitive side that many parents see as the more important side of golf. It is, of course, just a game, and Tony never pressured Ty or his siblings to necessarily follow in his footsteps. He made golf available to them and let them make their own choices based on their own level of passion for the game.
“We were good players, but were able to do it our own way,” Ty adds.
Ty went to college in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and worked at Fayetteville Country Club for PGA of America veteran Bill Agler. He returned to Texas to finish his studies, not playing too much golf, but still demonstrating a deep passion for the business of golf.
Ty says that a long-term career in golf was always a consideration, strewn within other ideas and passions he’s had as a young adult.
“The thing that always brought me back to golf was the love of the game that I saw in my dad’s students, colleagues and customers,” Ty explains.
Ty worked on the maintenance team at Oeste Ranch Golf Course in Weatherford, Texas. There, he fell in love with manicuring the golf course and learning about the intricacies of agronomy and golf course maintenance. Again, Ty appreciated the positive culture that was fostered among the team.
Ty started playing again and realized that his love of the game would lead his early career choices. He decided to pursue PGA Membership.
That pursuit came to fruition just two weeks ago when he completed the PGA’s Professional Golf Management Associate Program and became a PGA Member . . . just like his dad. After serving as an Assistant Professional at Keeton Park Golf Course, working under his father who is the Director of Golf, he was recently rewarded for his hard work and dedication in the PGA program with a promotion to PGA Head Golf Professional.
Golf was always a primary connector within the Martinez family. Tony and Gretchen have been long-time partners in the industry and provided their kids with many opportunities in the game and out.
Their youngest son Calvin played two years of professional golf on the Mexican professional tour and has followed his passion in retail, while their daughter Emma recently started working with the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association in Honolulu.
“It’s all we’ve ever done,” Tony says. “And I’m so blessed to have a partner in Gretchen. After all, we’ve had a family business ever since we’ve been together. It’s a true family affair.”
Tony is grateful for the support he’s received from Gretchen and their kids as he’s pursued his passion for golf. Golf has brought their family together for many years, and he says it’s a dream come true to have three kids who have embraced the game within their careers as adults.
“It’s amazing to think that Ty and I will share being PGA Members going forward,” Martinez says. “He has made me a significantly better PGA of America Golf Professional. He’s inspired me, opened my eyes and allowed me to learn so much working side by side over the past few years. He has an instinct for the industry because he grew up in it while being blessed with a talent to entertain and mentor others.”
As for the younger Martinez, it’s refreshing to hear him talk of other interests and other career paths he’s considered. He’s always come back to golf thanks to his parent’s encouragement and support, never pressuring him in his decisions.
“You work in golf because you love the game,” Ty says. “My dad and I don’t get to play together as much as we’d like, but we played last week and had a great time.”
June 4th was a big day when Ty’s PGA status went from PGA Associate to PGA of America Member. “It felt awesome. Now I can tell that little kid washing carts at Hidden Oaks that we are PGA Members.”