On the ride to Salina Municipal Golf Course on Monday for the first day of the Kansas Class 5A girls golf championships, Gary Navarro let it slip to his daughter that Salina was where he had won his state championship.
He couldn’t hold back the tears on Tuesday when he watched his daughter, Kapaun Mt. Carmel junior Eleanor Navarro, earn a state medal and help the Crusaders win their first team state title since 2016.
“Oh man, it was emotional,” Gary Navarro said. “The tears were flowing.”
“I’ve never seen him get like that,” said Eleanor, who shot a 36-hole total of 157 to finish tied for 12th overall. “It’s funny seeing him like that, but it was cool because I could see that he was super proud of us and super proud of me.”
To understand why Gary Navarro was so emotional, you first must understand how important the game of golf is to him and his family.
Gary’s father, Auggie Navarro, is a Wichita golf legend. He was one of 11 siblings who lived in a pair of box cars parked at Broadway and 29th Street. Auggie would hitchhike 11 miles to Crestview Country Club to work as a caddy, which paid 90 cents per 18 holes.
The members took a liking to Auggie and taught him the game. He proved to be a natural and soon developed into one of Wichita’s best golfers, winning the City Match Play, Medal Play and 4-ball titles all in the same year in 1956. He spent close to four decades as the golf pro at Sim Park and helped develop Wichita’s junior golf program before his death in 2012.
Auggie passed on his love for the game to Gary, who was a two-time individual state champion at North and an All-American at Wichita State. That tradition was continued with Gary passing down his passion for the game to his daughter, Eleanor, and all Gary could think about on Tuesday afternoon was how proud his father would be.
“When Eleanor was born, he got her up and going and grandpa helped her start golfing,” Gary Navarro said. “I know he would have really loved seeing her today. He would be so proud that she hung in there.”
While Eleanor Navarro was born into a family of great golfers, birdies aren’t handed out for your last name. She had to fall in love with the grind and put in the work on her own.
From Kansas.com – By Taylor Eldridge: https://www.kansas.com/sports/varsity-kansas/other-varsity-sports/article246599783.html