Latin America has never been a hotbed for golf talent, this much we know. That’s what made the recent news of 16-year-old Costa Rican golf prodigy Paul Chaplet’s exploits all the more enjoyable.
Women’s golf has given us its fair share of Latina superstars – Lorena Ochoa, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who retired in 2010 at age 28 after topping the LPGA rankings for 157 consecutive weeks, as well as Mexican-American Nancy Lopez before her, voted the most influential Hispanic female athlete of all time by a panel of voters assembled by espnW and ESPN Deportes.
This week, it’s the amazing Susana Benavides who’s grabbing our attention, the only Bolivian-born golfer to ever compete in an LPGA event, a trailblazer following in the famous footsteps of models like Ochoa and Lopez.
“When I played [I didn’t have a Latina role model], but that helped in a way, as I didn’t have anyone to compare myself to,” Ochoa told espnW in 2013. “You can’t imagine how many bad times, failures, and tragedies happened to me. But the most important thing is to never give up. And it’s a very beautiful thing, when – in particular, Mexican or Latina – girls are inspired by my career. That gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
Now, Bolivians have an equally strong female athlete to look up to and cheer for on an international level. Benavides – a native of Cochabamba – was named best amateur golfer in her home country from 2004 to 2007. She played at Ohio State, where she earned second team All-Big Ten, Academic All-Big Ten, and OSU Scholar-Athlete honors.
A quick Google search will direct you to her Instagram page and a plethora of generic articles talking about how attractive she is. Things like: she’s a “Bolivian beauty” who should be representing her country at the Miss Universe pageant, or she’s “instantly my new favorite golfer.” Real talk: fuck articles that sexualize female athletes. Can we instead highlight the fact that – as mentioned previously – she is the only Bolivian-born golfer to ever take part in an LPGA event? Or how about taking a moment to recognize that she is about to enter her third year on the Symetra Tour, where she recorded a personal best T-13 finish last year?
Benavides is powerful, beautiful, and a phenomenal athlete, all of which come before her “sexiness” and “hotness” and whatever other one-dimensional words the sports media want to characterize her with. Keep an eye out, because she’s yet another Latina sportswoman making waves in a particular sphere of the sports world that has (until now) had comparatively little Latin American influence. Lopez, Ochoa, now Benavides – it’s the next generation.