This post is also available in: Spanish
By Craig Weincek
Roberto “Monchy” Vallarino is the President of the Panamanian Golf Association (APA) and is considered by many if not most players as Panama’s Mr. Golf. A successful businessman and member of a long-standing prominent Panamanian family, Vallarino (65) has in the words of Jovan Vukelja, the first president of the Panamanian Seniors Gold Association and current Treasurer, “dedicated a great deal of his time to promoting golf in Panama, especially with the youth.” A substantial portion of the APA budget is directed to supporting junior golf (6 to 18 years).
Vallarino, a tall, angular, serious guy and a talented player is also the President of the Amateur Senior Golf Association of Panama, and serves on the board of directors of Club de Golf, Panama´s leading private club. He aims to attract more international tournaments to Panama especially the popular annual Web.com professional tourney (formally the Nationwide Tour) that features many of the world’s up-and-coming professionals.
Vallarino’s influence is truly international throughout Central and South America. He is an active member of the Senior Amateur Association of Latin America and Copa Sucre, an organization of Senior Golf associations from the Bolivarian nations of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and of course Panama, where the countries take turns hosting tournaments and promoting fellowship.
A certified professional judge and expert in the rules of golf under the auspices of the Colombian Golf Federation, Vallarino is even an expert builder of custom golf clubs. “Monchy,” as he is known to virtually everyone, can be relied on by friends, club members and young players for guidance and advice from attaining a proper handicap to correcting a swing flaw or getting involved in events. For example, every year Vallarino oversees the Isthmus National Championship that involves several age groups from juniors through seniors in a two-weekend competition at four different courses. Not a figurehead, but an active participant, Vallarino oversees every aspect of the tournament with a high degree of generous patience and organization.
According to Kevin Bradley, who runs a local insurance agency, “Monchy is a great friend, who is always willing to step up and lead. Due to his tireless dedication and integrity he is a true asset to the game.”
In his own words, Roberto Vallarino enjoys “the challenge of both playing golf—it’s different every day and every course is different”—and helping others become involved. He seems to be always working for the good of the game with an emphasis on “the kids,” by helping to organize “a lasting and continuous program of youth development that includes golf clinics, local and international competitions” that may lead to Panama’s competition in the Olympics.
For those who are not yet enjoying golf in Panama, Monchy has a simple message, “Try it, you’ll like it.”