Player’s Take: Camilo Aguado
May 04, 2021
By Camilo Aguado, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member, PGATOURLA.COM
During the last two years, Camilo Aguado has proven he’s one of the most-consistent Latin American players playing on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. He currently ranks 19th on the Points List, and he enhanced his 2021 playing opportunities earlier this year when he was the wire-to-wire winner at the Forme Tour’s Qualifying Tournament in Weston, Florida, giving him full membership on two PGA TOUR International Tours. The Colombia-born Aguado, who grew up in Mexico, while also spending time in Venezuela, played college golf in Mississippi and currently lives in South Florida as he has made golf a centerpiece of his life.
I’m Colombian, but I lived many years in Venezuela and Mexico. In 2001, the company my father works for decided to move him to Venezuela, and we lived there for five years until the problems of government in that country began.
In 2005, my dad asked for a transfer, and the company located him to Spain. Due to family issues we couldn’t go with him. It was a year in which my father visited us for periods of two weeks until finally the possibility of going to Mexico opened up. Without much thought, he and my mother decided we would settle in Mexico.
My country is Colombia, but I owe a lot to Mexico. Colombian customs have always been maintained in my family. Food and some traditions, such as Christmas, are celebrated in the Colombian style. It is my country, and I would represent Colombia in any competition. Despite that, I forged my life in Mexico. The stability of my family was achieved in Mexico, and I owe a lot to that country. I will be eternally grateful to Mexico for everything it gave to my parents and my brother and obviously to me.
I started playing golf when I was 15 years old. My mother went to a shopping center in Mexico City. So, I would not get bored while she did the shopping, she left me practicing at a driving range the mall had there. This is how my taste for this sport began.
After I started playing, my dad and my brother became interested. My dad did it occasionally with friends in Bogota. After having some physical problems that prevented him from playing soccer and other sports, he started playing golf more often. When my brother saw that I was playing, he started, as well. Today, he has a handicap of seven or eight. It’s great fun knowing the three of us play and can share a good round of golf together.
Through a friend I managed to become a member of a club in Mexico. Unlike many, the first member of a golf club was neither my father nor my mother. I had a very close friend, and his father was the president of the Chiluca Golf Club. I asked him to please invite me to join so I could practice. That’s when I started to compete and improve my level of play.
I played the Los Andes Cup twice. In 2015 it was held in Quito (Ecuador), and we were champions. On that team were Nicolás Echavarría, a two-time winner on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Pablo Torres, Santiago Gómez and Mateo Gómez, who today is Juan Sebastián Muñoz’s caddie. The other time I played this tournament was in Bolivia, and we finished third. It was a great experience.
I feel that my most-important achievement was not the Los Andes Cup. That was a team tournament, so I don’t consider it completely my achievement. My greatest accomplishment, I believe, was when I came close to winning the 2017 Canadian Amateur Championship. That tournament was won by Zach Bauchou and second was Shintaro Ban. I was four shots behind, but I think I played at a great level all four days.
Choosing a college was a complicated process. Because I started playing golf so late, I didn't have a remarkable amateur career. At 18, I had not played a number of international tournaments that might lead to a college scholarship in the United States. However, I had a friend who attended Jacksonville State University, and he began to see that my level was good. In fact, at a tournament in Mexico I beat him by four strokes. At that moment, he knew I was ready to play college golf. He spoke with the JSU coach, and that’s how the school contacted me.
I loved Jacksonville State from the beginning. After a series of calls with the coach, I decided to visit him, and I loved it. The weather is ideal, it is a beautiful place and I always knew that I was going to be able to play on the golf team. I arrived in 2013, and it has been one of the great decisions of my life.
I decided to turn pro in February 2018. When I finished college in 2017, my plan was to play the Latin American Amateur in Chile and the Amateur Golf World Cup in Ireland during the first semester of 2018. Those who have not been able to play the LAAC will not understand me, but it is such a well-organized tournament that they make you feel like a pro for a week.
The tournament features press conferences, first-rate practice areas and a golf course with a unique setup. Those are things that you only find in professional tournaments. I was very close to winning it, and after that week I felt that in no other tournament as an amateur was I going to have all those emotions again. That series of feelings led me to make the decision ahead of time.
In Mexico, I started my professional career. After making the decision to turn pro, I checked the calendar and knew that the Mexican Tour was gaining momentum.
I played a couple of tournaments as an amateur, and in one I finished second. It was an ideal place to show my skills. I made my debut in Acapulco and finished top 15.
Mexico and Colombia have also played a big part in my professional career. Within two months of my debut I achieved my first professional victory, in San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), winning by one stroke. It was a dream come true—something you always work for. Then in 2019, I went to Colombia and won the National Professional Championship at Club Campestre La Sabana. The last day I played great golf and beat the club’s professional, Jaime Clavijo, by four strokes.
My first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event was in San Luis Potosí. Although I did not have my membership card yet, I debuted at that event in the 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season and finished top 10. From there I managed to get into the field of the Chile Open and finished top 20. That same year I played the Dev Series Final in Malinalco (Mexico), and I achieved the goal of getting onto the Tour.
Playing on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica was an easy decision. My experience in Latin America as an amateur was very positive. I think in addition to playing well you should feel comfortable in the places you visit. Latin America is my region, and I know the players and the countries we go to. I am happy to play on this Tour, and I hope to graduate to the Korn Ferry Tour from here as quickly as possible.
I have very good friends on the Tour. I usually travel with Jaime López Rivarola or with Luis Fernando Barco. I also usually spend a lot of time with Colombians on trips. I have stayed with Juan Pablo Luna and Iván Camilo Ramírez. We have very good relationships.
I have lived in Miami since last year. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated my decision to move to the United States. The first months I was in Mexico without much to do, and I started seeing that little by little things were reactivated in Florida. I called a cousin to see if he would welcome me. I have lived here since June 2020, and I think it was a good decision. I have been able to train again and most importantly I have been able to compete again.
Hernán Rey is now my coach. When I came to the United States, I started taking lessons with him, and from the outset I felt that he was the right person to improve my game. I tried my luck at the LOCALiQ Series last summer, and everything I did paid off, and I had good tournaments. Hernán has helped me solve things that I thought would take more time. His vision of the game from a player’s perspective has been key to raising my level.
Being a medalist in a Forme Tour Qualifying Tournament was one more reward for the work I am doing. The Club at Weston Hills is a place I like a lot because the LOCALiQ Series was played there, too.
When I arrived for Qualifying at the Forme Tour, the officials told us that we were going to play the club’s other golf course. I thought I was not going to do as well as I did in the summer.
I played my practice round with Raúl Pereda and Juan José Guerra. I felt very good, even exceeding my own expectations. In the first round I managed to break my personal record, shooting a 10-under. The following days I applied what Hernán had told me to keep pressing the accelerator. I didn't slow down, and I achieved what he wanted—what I wanted—to win.
Having a card in both Tours is key at this time. Given the circumstances of the world, when we don’t know what will happen next week, having the possibility of playing both in Latin America and the United States is very important. I want to finish the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season well to focus on the Forme Tour tournaments. Two chances in the same year to get to the Korn Ferry Tour is something I cannot miss.