Rico Opinion has won a lot of junior golf tournaments during the late 80s and the early 90s. He then played the Pilipinas Golf Tour, placed decent finishes — at one time cashing in P200,000 in prize — but never really nailed a title.
These days, the 47-year-old is known more as a coach than as a former pro player. Yet that’s exactly what he wanted to be known. At least for the time being.
Opinion is the coach who first handled the likes of Rianne Malixi and Marvi Monsalve.
“I’m not the one who made them exceptional players,” Opinion cautioned, quick not to sound like he’s taking credit.
“From zero (knowledge in golf) they started with me. But they’ve since gone to different coaches who helped them level up their game.”
But of course, had he messed things up, the two of them wouldn’t be where they are now.
That afternoon, Opinion was at the newly refurbished driving range of the Veterans Golf Club.
It was a Thursday yet almost all the stalls were occupied. And on the drive toward the range, the fairways were bustling.
“Golf is very much popular these days, the people who never knew the game before the pandemic are suddenly taking on golf,” he said in Filipino.
In fact, Opinion was organizing a tournament for newbies on 22 October.
“That’s good a sign because golf tournaments are my bread and butter,” Opinion added.
He is a freelance teaching pro, charging P1,500 an hour to students from Anvaya and Subic, to Taguig and Quezon City.
But of all his charges, Opinion said the most challenging, and at the same time most fulfilling, are each of his own eight children.
“All of my children I taught them, even the youngest who is two years old,” Opinion said.
The fifth one, 10-year-old Ezekiel, holds the most promise, according to Opinion. The father and son only knuckled down on training just two months ago. And already the younger Opinion was showing promise.
“He didn’t complain at all. I would leave him all day in Anvaya when I’m with a student. He would be at the pitching area, putting green and driving range. Sometimes he sleeps inside the locker room waiting for me to come back,” Opinion confided.
Ezekiel missed a podium finish during the recent Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines pre-Interschool. According to the elder Opinion, he was competing against kids who were training for a year already.
Growing up in the Project 6 area, Opinion’s own “play ground” was the humble, blue-collar Veterans.
“I also started when I was in Grade 4 like Ezekiel. But unlike him I didn’t have a coach,” he recalled.
Flash forward, Opinion is looking forward to turning 50 which would make him eligible to play in the Seniors. Not in the local circuit but in the Asian Tour.
“I’m preparing for it, Asian Tour, because during my peak as a pro I didn’t reach the Asian Tour, only local tour,” Opinion bared.
Maybe then he would finally be known more as a tour professional than as a traveling teaching pro. Which wasn’t too bad, either.