Delia Nava and medalists Aneka Seumanutafa and Faith Choi at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)
The USGA Golf Museum and Library depends on the generosity of many supporters. Among these supporters is Delia Nava, longtime volunteer Rules official, former USGA Women’s Committee member and past president of the Mexican Women’s Golf Association.
Nava’s accomplishments in golf are truly impressive: She was integral in the translation of the Rules of Golf into Spanish, helped bring USGA championship qualifying events to her home country of Mexico, was a co-instructor of the USGA/PGA Rules of Golf Workshops conducted in Spanish, and served as a referee for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
Her deep knowledge of the game and her desire to make it more accessible have led Nava to help the Museum acquire artifacts important to preserving and celebrating Latin American golf history, including those of Bertha Navarro, the first Mexican woman to win the Mexican Women’s Amateur Championship in 1948. In this interview, Nava shares her journey in golf, from a young player to a leader in uniting golfers around the world.
When were you first exposed to golf?
It was my dad, Adolfo Guerrero, who brought golf into our family. As a college football player in the mid-1940s, wearing very little protective gear, he sustained many injuries that kept him from playing other sports, until literally by doctor’s orders he picked up golf before I was born. He ended up falling in love with the game. My family joined Club de Golf Mexico in Mexico City in the early 1960s. My earliest memory of golf was when our club hosted the 1967 World Cup, with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus representing the United States.
How did your involvement with golf progress?
I did not play much golf until I started dating Eugenio Nava, who was the club champion and an accomplished amateur golfer. I had to play golf to spend more time with him, so I started taking lessons. Eugenio caddied for me in my first tournament; I won first place net and I was hooked.
Eugenio became a professional golfer, and we got married right after I completed my civil engineering degree in the early 1980s. He became a member of the European Tour, and four years later we welcomed our twin daughters, Ana and Delia, into our family. After our son, Daniel, was born and started preschool, I would drive to the club after dropping him off to play nine holes or practice. I would sign up for every tournament, and that’s how I met some of my dearest friends.
I have been living in the United States for the last 17 years, where we joined The Woodlands Country Club [outside Houston, Texas]. Golf was such a blessing, moving to a different country; I felt right at home.
Nava during the first round of stroke play at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Streamsong Resort. (USGA/Darren Carroll)
How did you get involved in golf administration?
As I started to participate in more tournaments while my kids were growing up, I felt the need to get involved. I served as women’s captain at our club. At that time, we hosted several Mexico Opens. I coordinated walking scorers and scoreboards.
When my kids started playing golf, it sparked my interest in the Rules. There were no referees at the girls’ tournaments, so I started studying and volunteering.
I attended my first USGA/PGA Rules of Golf Workshop in 2000. I served as Rules Chair for the Mexican Women’s Golf Association, where I learned about course setup and golf administration. By 2005, I was invited to referee at the U.S. Senior Open at NCR Country Club (in Kettering, Ohio) – an amazing experience. That same summer we moved to Texas, and Alli Jarrett recruited me for the USGA Regional Affairs Committee. Years later, I was honored to join the USGA Women’s Committee and to serve as president of the Mexican Women’s Golf Association.
Why is preserving history important to you?
I have learned a lot of golf history from my husband. He loves reading and sharing stories about great players and historic golf courses… I think learning golf history makes you understand the greatness of the game and its traditions. It makes you proud of being a golfer.
Tell us about your connection to Bertha Navarro’s family, and why you helped connect them with the USGA Golf Museum.
I met Bertha Navarro’s son, Memo García, when I visited San Luis Potosí, Mexico, for a Women’s National Championship in 2018. I was then the president of the Mexican Women’s Golf Association. Memo had found Bertha’s trophies, clubs and photographs and realized his mom had been a great golfer. He asked me if I could find a place to display them. Sadly, there is no golf museum in Mexico, but then I remembered that Susan Wasser, who works for the USGA, had once mentioned that the Museum might be interested in such artifacts. I promised Memo I would find a great place for Bertha’s artifacts, and I couldn’t have found a better place. Sadly, Memo passed away in 2020, but I am sure he would have been very pleased. Last March when I visited the USGA Golf Museum, I got goosebumps looking at the exhibit of Navarro’s clubs and trophies. It brought me so much joy.
Alison Lee shakes hands with Nava during the quarterfinal round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur. (USGA/Chris Keane)
In your opinion, why is Bertha Navarro’s story important to golf history?
She was a trailblazer for women’s golf in Mexico. Before her, only British and American players had been crowned as Mexican Women’s Amateur champions, so as the first Mexican player to win, she was an inspiration for others. Bertha truly helped grow the game in Mexico.
Have there been other instances in which you have been instrumental in preserving or shedding light on history – within golf or outside of it?
A couple of years ago, I met Magdalena Villar, a fellow referee from Peru, who had been invited to the Mexican Women’s Amateur Championship. We became good friends and ran into each other at different events all over the world. One night, as we were having dinner, she mentioned that her great aunt was the 1955 U.S. Women’s Open champion. I almost fell off my chair! She was talking about Fay Crocker, Uruguayan professional golfer, the first foreign winner and only U.S. Women’s Open champion from Latin America so far. I was so excited I immediately asked her if there were any artifacts that could be donated to the USGA Golf Museum.
What has golf meant to you in your life?
Golf has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. My dad played golf, I met my husband through golf, I met my dearest friends through golf and my children played junior golf. I love the values associated with golf: honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and sportsmanship… It is my privilege to give back to the game because it has given me so much
Do you have any advice for others looking to serve golf and its many communities?
My advice to others thinking about volunteering is just sign up, say yes. You won’t regret it. Once you start your volunteer journey, you can decide how deep you want to go… All roles are important!
As you examine the world of golf today, what are the changes you wish to see in the future game?
I feel I have witnessed a transformation of the game throughout the last 50 years… It has become more inclusive, more welcoming for minorities, for women and for people with disabilities. I would like to see more participation in golf from the Hispanic community, more women referees, and see Hispanic USGA champions further celebrated.