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Chi Chi Rodríguez: 1935—: Golfer

Showed Compassion For Children

Despite suffering a heart attack in 1998, Rodríguez was active on the tour into the 2003 season. When not on the golf course entertaining fans, he has spent much of his time (and over $5 million of his money) on helping troubled kids overcome obstacles. In 1979 he founded the Chi Chi Rodríguez Foundation, a counseling, educational, and vocational training center for children ages five to 15 in Clearwater, Florida.

Rodríguez, who is well known for his benevolence, had the idea for the foundation after a juvenile prison guard brought a couple of inmates to watch Rodríguez play in 1979. Rodríguez invited the boys to walk along with him for a few holes, and after completing his round went back to the detention center to have dinner with them. "Seeing those kids trapped like animals inside cells broke my heart," Rodríguez told Life magazine. "I wasn't that different from them once, except that I never got caught." Rodríguez has not only supported the center with his money but with his presence as well. He makes weekly calls to Clearwater and visits the center several times a year.

As the game's master of showmanship, Rodríguez explained his performance to the Saturday Evening Post: "Golf is kind of a stuck-up sport. Therefore it's tough to be a golf fan because [a fan] can't speak, he can't even cough when a guy is hitting a shot. They have to be quiet all the time, but they pay their money and they work hard to get there, and when they come to watch, I'm going to make sure that I do something to make them laugh or make them enjoy themselves. What is life without a laugh?" That's one question Rodríguez will never know the answer to.



Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale, 1996.


Golf Digest, August 2002, p. 103.

Golf Magazine, March 2000, p. 178.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, May 19, 1995; February 10, 1996; August 11, 1998.

Life, August 1989, pp. 48-51.

People Weekly, September 21, 1987, pp. 51-53.

St. Petersburg Times, February 1999.

Saturday Evening Post, March 1989, pp. 52-53.

Sports Illustrated, November 23, 1987, pp. 38-42.


"Chi-Chi Rodriguez," Latino Sports Legends, http://www.latinosportslegends.com/chi-chi.htm (March 27, 2003).

"Chi Chi Rodriguez," PGA Tour, http://www.pgatour.com/players/ (March 27, 2003).

Chi Chi Rodríguez Youth Foundation, http://www.chichi.org (March 27, 2003).

—Kari Bethel

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyChi Chi Rodríguez: 1935—: Golfer Biography - Grew Up Poor In Puerto Rico, Began Playing Golf, Shocked And Angered With Outrageous Behavior