Connor Alvarez picked up a set of plastic golf clubs at the age of two and began swinging. This summer, he won six of the seven tournaments he entered with the US Golf Kids Denver Summer Local Tour and received the Player of the Year Trophy in the six and under category at Flat Irons Golf Course in Boulder on Aug. 7. This qualifies him for the World Championship to be held in North Carolina in August 2013 and the European Championship in Scotland next May.
“We decided when he first started that he had this magnificent little swing and we decided not to mess with it,” said Chris Alvarez, Connor’s father. Connor has never received coaching and is completely self-taught. “He watches golf on TV and tries things that the golfers do,” said Alvarez.
Last summer Connor’s grandfather, Rick River of Ouray, entered him in his first tournament, and he came in second. Beginning in the second week of June this summer, Connor traveled to the Front Range once a week for seven tournaments, winning six and getting second place in one. Connor played his best game at the Tour Championship at Flat Irons the day he received the Player of the Year award. He shot a 42, on a 36 par, which was a better score than the winner of the seven-year-olds' bracket.
On average Connor can drive the ball 140 yards. He practices his driving in Idlewild, where he lives with his parents and two sisters, Kaydee, 10, and Courtney, 12. His family has lived in Ouray for five generations; Fellin Park was named after his great-great-grandfather.
“I take credit for encouraging him and taking him to the golf course; I get him out four or five times a year to play and his dad gets him out a few times, but his swing is entirely his own. He is just a natural,” said River. “His inspiration is that he just loves to play.” River pieced together a set of clubs for Connor by the time he was three, and along with his mother, Dionne Alvarez, took him to the Cobble Creek Golf Course in Montrose to play for the first time. Cobble Creek remains his favorite course.
As soon as Connor began speaking, golf was on his mind. “He likes Phil Mickelson; when he was old enough to start talking and watching him he used to call him Phil Pickleson because he thought that was his name,” said Rivers. Connor’s dad said his favorite golfer is Stewart Cink.
“He doesn’t do anything wrong, he is an amazing ball striker. Right now the weakness in his game is his putting because he doesn’t have anywhere to practice. He can go out and hit balls in the pasture, but he doesn’t have a green to practice on,” said Rivers. Chris Alvarez said they are trying to figure out a way to plant the right grasses to create a putting green on their property so Connor has a place to chip balls and work on his short game.
Although Connor likes to golf with his dad, grandfather and uncles, he really likes to play with other kids. Joining US Kids Golf has allowed him to do just that. Last year he competed against a boy named Liam and was disappointed this year that Liam had moved up to the seven-year-olds' bracket.
At this point Connor’s parents have not actively sought out sponsorship because “at his point he loves it and we are not pressuring him to do it,” said Alvarez.
Locally, Connor has played at the Black Canyon Course, Devil’s Thumb, the Bridges and Cobble Creek. Connor’s next tournament will be in Phoenix on Feb. 18-19.
The only coaching Connor has ever received was on focusing his attention. His golf game is entirely his own.