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Rene Mondejar, center, is the founder of the Cubano Golf Classic Tournament. He is pictured with committee members Bob Athey, left, and Khale Burkett, right. Committee members Luke Faricy and Mark Jones were not present for the photo.

Rene Mondejar is proud of his Cuban heritage. He is passionate about Cuban food, family, golf, football, baseball and the value of great friends. He brings all of these passions together each year with a pair of unique golf tournaments.

The first one is his version of the Ryder Cup, which takes place beginning Thursday at the Air Force Academy’s Eisenhower Blue and Silver courses, as well as at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Among those playing in the tournament is his good friend Roger Maris. Jr., the son of the famous baseball slugger.

The four-day event has taken place each of the last six years. It alternates between Colorado Springs and Florida, where Maris resides.

“Roger puts together a team from Florida and we alternate destinations,” Mondejar said. “When we go to Florida we play some of the most beautiful courses in Orlando like Lake Nona and Isleworth in Windemere.”

The 19th Annual Cubano Golf Classic is even more dear to Mondejar’s heart. It will take place Sept. 19 at the Country Club of Colorado, where Mondejar is a member. It’s been played there every year.

“We hope to reach 100 players this year,” Mondejar said. “The spirit of the tournament for me is the memory of my dad and his love for having a great time around food, music and cheerful people.”

Mondejar’s father, also named Rene, came to America from Cuba when he was 9 years old in 1929. He was raised in New York City and later served in the United States military, where he fought on D-Day in the invasion of Normandy, and later in the Pacific War in Okinawa.

“My father used to cook the pig in the early days of the tournament,” Mondejar said. “He came out from Florida where he lived and we just had a great time.”

The tournament was born out of a fantasy football league that Mondejar has been involved with since 1996.

“We wanted to do something in addition to our fantasy football draft so we started the Cubano Golf Classic in 2001,” Mondejar said. “We used to have the tournament the same weekend as the draft, but then we separated it because the golf tournament just got too big.”

The Cubano Golf Classic is like no other tournament in the Pikes Peak region. Participants and guests dress in Fedoras and Caribbean attire. A pig is roasted at the first hole and enjoyed by all after the tournament with Cuban fare. Participants also receive a Cuban cigar as part of their $150 entry fee.

Recently, the tournament has become a charity event. This year it benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“There is nothing like coming together with a group of great people and raising money for children and their families,” Mondejar said.

The committee members include Khale Burkett, Luke Faricy, Bob Athey and Mark Jones.

Sponsors are Lexus of Colorado Springs, La-Z-Boy Furniture, Dominion Property Management, SunBright LED Systems, Colorado Center for Orthopedic Excellence, Great Western Bank, Pella Windows, Majo Ranch Cody Wyoming Cathcart Family, Equity Edge Mortgage, Edward Collins Wealth Management, 719 Lending, Veterans Optometry Partners of America, Mark Jones Re/Max Properties, TECC Painting, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Taylor Fence, loanDepot, Rutledge’s Men’s Clothing. Chief Petroleum, Deep Water Emergency Services, Stewart Cables Attorney at Law, Colorado Craft Brewery, J. Hilburn Custom Men’s Clothing, and Tom Calvin State Farm Insurance.

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