Fort Worth golfer cashed in on his talent with on-course bets

Tony Arredondo, third from left, competed in the Pan American <a class=golf tournament at Meadowbrook in 1958. He is shown here with other participants, left to right, Johnny and Roy Aguillon, both of San Antonio, and Rudy Flores of Fort Worth.” title=”Tony Arredondo, third from left, competed in the Pan American golf tournament at Meadowbrook in 1958. He is shown here with other participants, left to right, Johnny and Roy Aguillon, both of San Antonio, and Rudy Flores of Fort Worth.” loading=”lazy”/>

Tony Arredondo, third from left, competed in the Pan American golf tournament at Meadowbrook in 1958. He is shown here with other participants, left to right, Johnny and Roy Aguillon, both of San Antonio, and Rudy Flores of Fort Worth.

UTA Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection

Antonio “Tony” Arredondo relied on luck and skill to excel in golf, earning a reputation as a top player.

It all started when his uncle Victor Muñoz and his two sons Fred and Rudy, who were building the Colonial Country Club in 1936, brought home clubs and balls and introduced his nephews Tony and David to the game. Tony loved to play 5, swinging the club into two empty lots across from his home at 1515 E. Weatherford.

Tony’s parents landed jobs for the teenage brothers as caddies, earning $1 per bag carried, at Glen Garden Golf & Country Club. In 1950 Tony became a caddy for Byron Nelson, whom he admired for his superb playing and gentlemanly demeanor. As Nelson tutored the son of a millionaire, Tony watched, listened and learned from a master of the game. Eight years later, when Tony played at Ridglea Country Club, Nelson recognized him and chatted with him as s These were old acquaintances.

The 14-year-old’s impressive swing caught the eye of Rockwood Golf Course Professional Manager Clarence “Skeet” Fincher. The pro told Tony he could play as often as he wanted at Rockwood without paying, framed his game, and gave him a corner club. After some unsuspecting men played Tony, Fincher said, “I told you. You couldn’t beat my boy.

As Tony’s game improved, so did his confidence. The once shy and humble young man has become a smart gambler, betting $10 per hole or auto press. With three local backers covering his bets, he faced all challengers. When four golfers/players from Dallas traveled to Rockwood to challenge Tony, he called a sponsor who drove to the course in his Cadillac and parked on an overhanging hill. As the boss’ son ran down the hill to hand him the money, the Dallas men were stunned at the trade, quickly realizing the bets were about to rise.

After another golfer lost to Tony in Rockwood, he remarked in the clubhouse in the presence of other golfers that the young Mexican couldn’t play any other courses in Fort Worth. Tony challenged him to a second match and left that day with $375 of the loser’s money stuffed in his pocket.

Raised in a family of nine children of Mexican immigrant parents, Tony felt compelled to contribute to their financial security. At Ernest Parker Jr. High School, a coach advised him to enroll in Paschal High School to play on his golf team and likely get college offers. Like many young Latinos in Fort Worth in the 1950s, he planned to get a full-time job soon. He attended Trimble Technical High School, learned the skills of a printer, and landed a well-paying job in a union shop.

Pursuing his passion for golf in his spare time, Tony has played tournaments all over Fort Worth. He played mostly par golf, but took on competitive challenges, scoring in the 60s. When the Pan American Golf Association formed in 1951, Tony became the youngest member of the Latino golf club.

Tony Arredondo.jpg
Tony Arredondo at Rockwood Golf Course in February 2022. Courtesy Richard J. Gonzales

Tony has won several Fort Worth Pan Am tournaments and represented the club in statewide Pan Am games. He was especially proud of winning the annual Fort Worth Press tournament at Worth Hills Golf Course in 1962. After the city of Fort Worth sold the course to Texas Christian University for school expansion, he jokingly commented that it closed because a Hispanic won.

Despite encouragement to turn professional, Tony, now 85, refused to play leaving his wife and children alone at home.

Author Richard J. Gonzales writes and talks about Fort Worth, national and international Latino history.

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