While a certain hair-impaired presidential candidate rants about building a wall to keep Mexicans away, Dave Stevenson is working to tear down walls between the US and a poor adobe village just a short walk south of the Rio Grande. The head pro at Eastchester’s Lake Isle CC has brought golf (and other valuable things) to the 150 residents of Boquillas, making the tiny settlement home to one of the most unlikely golf communities you’ll find anywhere.
It all started about three years ago. “I canoed the Rio Grande my whole life,” Stevenson says. “On one trip, a friend suggested we visit Boquillas and I fell in love with the people.” The canoeing golf pro discovered that the recreation facilities in the community consisted basically of a few soccer balls, so he asked the village matron if they would like to have some golf equipment. She eagerly agreed and a year later Stevenson came back to see it happen.
“Boquillas got golf before it got electricity,” Stevenson explains. The village is six hours from the nearest town and its sole source of electric power is a smattering of roof-top solar units on a few of the adobe buildings. The Mexican government just recently began construction of a solar power array for the community.
Stevenson got in touch with US Kids Golf, which donated 100 kid-size golf clubs and hats. Pointfive Golf Company contributed a healthy supply of golf balls and buckets and Stevenson himself bought range mats and paid a contractor doing work on the solar array to pour concrete pads for them. Given the heightened state of border security and stringent import/export rules, it took some extraordinary work to get the equipment to the village, but it happened.
Mexican border town golf enthusiasts working on their game under tutelage of Lake Isle pro Dave Stevenson
“It’s the most beautiful driving range in the world,” Stevenson says, pointing to the Chisos Mountains in the distance. Stevenson has held several clinics to teach the rudiments of the game to residents of all ages. The kids love it, he says, but adults are into the game, too. “I never taught a guy wearing spurs how to hit a ball,” Stevenson says. “You should see the smiles when they make contact.”
In February of this year, the members at Lake Isle collected 19 boxes of children’s clothing for Boquillas. Stevenson also purchased fifty kites. “The kids not only never saw a golf club,” he says, “they’d never seen a kite, either.”
Boquillas is not your grandfather’s country club, but the “members” really embrace the game
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Stevenson has a well-earned reputation as someone who gives to the community. He was honored in 2006 by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association with the Mary Bea Porter Award for his extensive work sending relief supplies to victims of Hurricane Katrina. He received the Player Development Award from the Met PGA this year.
Lake Isle member Richey Migliacci says, “Nobody know what a good guy Dave Stevenson is. He helps a lot of people—many of them one-on-one right here.”