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The 'Best Undocumented Golfer in America' is living proof of how immigrants make America a better place

Standing behind a tree on the sixth hole at Meadowlark Golf Course in Huntington Beach, California, I was in a predicament.

I was about 70 yards from the hole, but there was a large eucalyptus in my way. I grabbed my five wood to take a punch shot to get around the tree and set myself up for a clear route to the green.

"Take your body out of the shot," my friend Eduardo called from the golf cart. "Use your hands."

The punch plunked the ball about 40 yards, stopping in the center of the fairway. I was nicely set up for an easy third shot and, hopefully, par.

This was just one of the easily digestible tips I received that day from my buddy Eduardo Flores, or as I half-jokingly call him, The Best Undocumented Golfer in America.


(I'm using a pseudonym to protect him due to his citizenship status and to prevent him from being inundated by requests for putting tips.)

via Tod Perry

I first met Eduardo about ten years ago after he took in a friend of mine who was in an unhealthy relationship. We bonded quickly over our shared love of the Oakland Raiders.

He lives in the central valley of California, one of the most productive agricultural centers of the world, and home to many undocumented people who come from south of the border in search of work and a better quality of life.

But life for Eduardo hasn't always been chip shots and birdies.

In 1995, at the age of 17, the spindly teenager left his family in Michoacán, a state in south west Mexico, and began a journey with a friend to the United States to find work. He grabbed a backpack with two days' worth of clothing and a few dollars to pay the coyotes in Tijuana.

He spent eight days in the border town and endured three failed attempts at crossing the border. According to Eduardo, it was his "first taste of the American Dream."

Related: How Trump and Obama handled MAGA chants shows how much American politics has changed in just three years

During one attempt, he was lambasted by an irate border patrol agent, but had no idea what he was saying because he didn't speak English. This was all the encouragement he needed to learn the language. "First thing I'm going to do in America is learn English," he said. "I don't want people talking shit to me without knowing what they're saying."

Eduardo and his friend's fourth crossing was successful, and along with five other people, they were driven in a two-seater beat-up '80s Nissan to a tomato-packing plant about 50 miles north of the border in Oceanside, California.

Upon arriving at the plant, Eduardo's friend took off with relatives, stranding Eduardo in a new country where he had no contacts and couldn't speak the language.

Oceanside, Californiavia Rick Miller / Flickr

The tomato plant had enough workers so Eduardo was shut out. Hungry and penniless, he did odd jobs for a man that ran a taco truck and was paid in burritos. At night, the plant owners allowed him to sleep in a corner of the factory floor in a makeshift dwelling he assembled out of wooden pallets.

But the owners soon wanted him gone, so he spent a few nights sleeping beneath a bridge near Mission Avenue. Hungry, he occasionally had to stomach rotten bananas and pick insects off of half-eaten sandwiches to survive.

Back in 1995, a cell phone was a rarity and international calls were costly. But the taco truck owner took Eduardo to his house so he could call his family back in Mexico. The entire town only had one phone, so his father had to be paged by a loud speaker system.

"My father told me it was a lost cause and to come back home," he said. "I had no opportunity back in Mexico, so I had to persevere in the states. That was my only option, really."

His parents put him in touch with his brothers in the central valley. Eduardo would have reached out to them himself, but the border agents stripped him of the sheet he carried with their information.

via Miguel Vava / Flickr

In the central valley, Eduardo found work on a grape farm but had to quit because he soon learned he was allergic to sulfur. "If you knew how much sulfur they put on your grapes, you'd never eat one," he joked.

Eventually, Eduardo would find steady work farming chili peppers, picking cotton and corn, and working at an industrial plant where he barely survived an ICE raid. "When ICE stormed the plant, all the workers were called out and got deported," he said. "But a man I will never forget, a Desert Storm veteran named Bobby, hid me in an office saying, 'I'll make sure they never get you.'"

In 2014, he got dragged by a friend down to Ventura where his friend wanted to play golf. "I had no interest, but to humor him I went along," he admits. "I didn't know my driver from my putter. Let's be honest, golf wasn't exactly a popular sport in Michoacán. We had about as many golfers as hockey players. Zero," he laughs.

"I don't remember my score, but I shot three pars that day. I caught the bug."

Eduardo grew up in a mountainous region of Mexico where there wasn't even enough flat land to play soccer. Volleyball was his sport of choice as a child. His family back home thought he was crazy for taking up the game. He later came to the realization that his upbringing may have laid the foundation for his smooth swing.

"We had to chop down a lot of trees with axes in the mountains," he said. "The natural swinging motion was beat into me as a child. The synchronized motion of your hands, arms and hips is very similar to hitting a pitching wedge. And, you want to keep your feet planted or you'll chop your leg off at the knee."

A few weeks later, he and his girlfriend came down to Long Beach to see my wife and I. Eduardo demanded we play an 18-hole par three called Heartwell. I had been playing golf for 21 years, and I believe I beat him by two strokes.

"We tied," Eduardo reminds me.

After just five years, Eduardo boasts a six handicap, has won nearly ten scramble tournaments, and routinely beats me by 25 strokes whenever we go out.

via Tod Perry

Politically, the agriculturally-driven central valley in California bears little resemblance to the progressive Bay Area to the north and Los Angeles to the south. The golf course where Eduardo regularly beats the regulars is a haven for Trump supporters.

Needless to say, there aren't a lot of golfers that look like Eduardo in the tee boxes and prejudice against undocumented people is palpable.

"They always tell me I'm one of 'the good ones.' They say all the other undocumented people are a bunch of free-loaders who take from the welfare system," he said.

Eduardo has a great response to the "freeloader" claims. "I tell 'em, 'you go to the welfare office, say you're Canadian and have no social security number and try to get food stamps. It's not gonna happen,'" he continued. "It's the same with us."

According to a report from the Cato institute, Eduardo is right. "Immigrants use 39 percent fewer welfare and entitlement benefits per person than native-born Americans," the study says. "Legal immigrants cannot get welfare for their first five years of residency, with few exceptions, mostly at the state level. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for welfare except for rare circumstances like emergency Medicaid."

In situations where undocumented people access the welfare system, it's usually due to a U.S.-born child that has legal access to benefits.

It wasn't until this year that undocumented immigrants in California can enroll in Medi Cal, a free or low-cost health insurance program. But that program only allows undocumented people under the age of 26 to enroll.

In 2017, undocumented immigrants contributed $11.74 billion a year in state and federal income taxes, state and local sales taxes and property taxes.

Undocumented people also commit fewer crimes per capita than native-born Americans.

"I tell these guys, I'm not 'one of the good ones'; ninety-nine percent of the undocumented people in this country are just like me," he added.

"It's crazy that all of these people want us deported because their livelihoods are completely tied to our labor. It makes absolutely no sense," he said. "If we all disappeared one day, these people would lose their livelihoods, too."

via "Eduardo Flores"

However, these same men routinely pay Eduardo for lessons and to play rounds of golf with them so they can improve their games. He rarely pays for a round at the local course. Plus, he's a good guy to crack a beer with.

"They need me on the farm and the green," he jokes.

Eduardo's disdain for Trump isn't just about his immigration policies. "He cheats at golf," he says. "I read in the book 'Commander in Cheat' that he takes gimmies on chip shots. That's un-American."

Eduardo's dedication to his golf game is borderline obsessive. After shooting a triple bogey on a hole a few weeks ago, he punished himself by taking 4,000 practice shots into a makeshift driving range he built with a tarp outside of his farm house.

Having survived a long, dangerous journey from Michoacán to the central valley, to a life with a loving fiancée, a newborn daughter, teenage son, and two soon-to-be step children, Eduardo feels compelled to give back to his community.

He routinely takes in children of migrant workers who have been affected by deportation. He also helps local migrant children – many who can't afford shoes – by buying them soccer cleats and uniforms to play in local leagues. All of this on a farm workers' wages.

It's tough to know if he's the best undocumented golfer in America, but it'd be hard to find a better person, on the course or off.

Eduardo is looking forward to getting married, becoming a citizen, and hopes to make it to the PGA Senior Tour in nine years when he turns 50.

As for us, we've got tickets to the Raiders versus the Lions on November 3 at the Oakland Coliseum.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

As the saying goes, "You have to kiss a few frogs..."

Dating has certainly evolved over the years—we’ve gone from courtship being purely a financial arrangement (not that this trend has ever truly died) to knights jousting for a lady’s favor, to casual hookups … and now, romance is primarily found through an app more than anything else.

Technology used for meeting that special someone has become so advanced that you can base your search entirely upon specific interests. Like … oddly specific interests. Think a fellow cat person would be the purrfect match? There’s an app for that. Wish to “love long and prosper” with a fellow Trekkie? There’s an app for that too.

No matter the changes, one thing remains the same—dating is awkward. It’s got all the unspoken formalities of a job interview, disguised as innocent fun. The balance between playing it too cool and too eager is hard to find even for the smoothest among us, and usually results in total embarrassment. Even if we aren’t the ones committing those embarrassing acts ourselves, we are often the reluctant witness to them.

Terrible dates might not always be fun in the moment, but they can be just as important as the good ones. They can teach us a lot about ourselves and what qualities we want in a partner. And at the very least, they can teach us to embrace social clumsiness with a sense of humor.

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share a “funny or embarrassing first date story” for his ever popular #Hashtags segment. The best part—some of these awful first dates ended in marriage. There’s hope for us all.

Below, find 15 stories that are truly the best of the worst. How do some of your first dates compare?

1. "After a nice dinner, she invited me to her house. On the way up, inside the elevator, I decided to push the button to stop between floors and give her a kiss... She had a phobia of closed spaces and she smacked my face as a reflex, two punches after we were kissing and laughing.” – @PanqueAlgarvio

2. “His jeans were so tight he couldn’t sit down. Stood at a bar stool the whole time.” – @onlyintheozarks

3. “Waiting 4 my date when an older couple asked me for a ride. my date came up and said sure! We drove them home & they asked us to come in. Date said “sure”. I pulled him back & asked why he wanted to hang w/strangers. He said ‘sh@t! YOU DON'T KNOW THEM!?’ We bolted!” – @natashaham75

facebook dating

Talk about a fashion faux pas.

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4. “Before the date, we had been chatting about books we liked and I talked about a great book I just read. We went on the date. I loaned her the book. She ghosted me.” – @thenextbarstool

5. “The worst first date I ever had was when my date locked his keys in the car and I had a curfew so he had to break his car window out to get me home on time. Didn’t think I’d ever see him again but we wound up married.” – @csleblan

6. “First date movie ‘Basic Instinct’ not realizing how suggestive it was. We just thought it was a mystery thriller! We left the movie discussing how each character could have actually murdered someone. We're married now.” – @Southrnbell_Amy

black people meet

There are worse first date movies tbh.

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7. “First date with my ex husband was a double date with his parents. The preview for ‘Speed Racer’ came on, and she leaned over me to say to her son, ‘You know what your dad's nickname in the bedroom is?’" – @theostoria

8. “A friend asked me on a double date as a blind date with his date's friend. I went to the bathroom and came back just in time to hear my date say to her friend, ‘why do I get the ugly one?’ I said good night to all three and headed home, leaving her w/the bill.” – @StevenTrustum

9. “He loved cheese. I was subjected to a 2 hour conversation/lecture about cheese, and why cottage cheese is not cheese!” – @Optimist_Eeyore

bumble

I'd like to see this two-hour cheese lecture.

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10. “He took me to an Asian fish market. We walked around looking at live & dead fish for a while. I don’t like seeing dead animals & I don’t eat seafood. Then we sat on a curb & he pulled out a ziplock bag of pineapple for us to share. I don’t like pineapple.” – @markayhali

11. “My cousin set up a first date for me with a family friend. During a break from dinner, Mr. Man follows me into the ladies’ room, comes up close and says in a low voice, ‘I shave my butt.’ Can’t remember what I said in response but the evening ended abruptly.” – @carli_zarzana

12. “I once took out my high school crush to a sports bar and ordered the spiciest wings there in an attempt to impress her. Not only was she not impressed. The next morning I woke up with heartburn.” –@Dmonster38

tindr conversation starters

Talk about a hot date.

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13. “My date showed up with his bestie and girlfriend, and they talked through dinner about people I don’t know. Walking to the car, he gave me a wedgie because he thought he hadn’t been paying enough attention to me.” – @surrealDazey


14. “I was taking my date home and was pulled over by the police for speeding. When the cop came to my car, she jumped out and told him she had to get home. She walked home and I never heard from her again. I'm not sure who's #WorstFirstDate it was mine or hers!” – @eastriverbear

15. “After an evening of dancing with a first date, leaving the dance hall, I had to take a quick pee break. Rushing out to the parking lot, I see a lady, I grab her and swoop her around, and plant a big wet kiss on the lips. She was another guy's wife. Oops!” – @seadogskamore

date you

Only Gomez could have gotten away with it.

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