NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by David G

Based on a true story.

Del Rio, Texas, 1956: Joe Trevino (Julian Works) gets into a fight with three white boys in an alley but is saved by the arrival of his friends Felipe Romero (Miguel Angel Garcia), Mario Lomas (Christian Gallegos), Gene Vasquez (Gregory Diaz IV) and Lupe Felan (José Julián).

JB Peña (Jay Hernandez), a high school superintendent and former marine new to town, is stressed getting ready for a meeting with the head of the prominent local Del Rio Country Club. He is easily calmed down by his wife, Lucy Peña (Jaina Lee Ortiz). At the club, Joe and the other boys finish a job working as caddies for a group of members, including Judge Milton Cox (Brett Cullen) and his son Tim;. At the same time, Joe is complimented for his helpfulness and tipped well, Judge Cox ribs Gene for being bad at the job and only valid for cleaning, and Tim pockets the intended tip for Lupe. After everyone leaves, Jose pees on Judge Cox’s car. Pollo (Cheech Marin), the groundskeeper, sees him and nods approval.

The boys go to a private hill, El Llanito, and hit golf balls out onto an open range. Joe takes Felipe up on a bet and hits a drive into JB’s car window as he drives along the road. JB stops the car and the group scatters; JB finds their makeshift driving range and then returns to his car. JB arrives at the country club and meets his former marine friend and golf pro-Frank Mitchell (Dennis Quaid). JB, bleeding from the head from the broken car window, insists on meeting with the club president, Mr. Glenn, to speak about becoming a member of the club. Despite being late, Mr. Glenn agrees to the meeting; despite JB’s impassioned plea to become a member because of his love for golf, Mr. Glenn denies him the opportunity because he believes other members would not feel comfortable with a Mexican club member. Distraught, JB returns home and lets his frustration out, hitting golf balls into the night.

When Joe tries to give Gene advice at school, Daniella (Paulina Chávez) challenges him to demonstrate his “moves,” but he freezes on the spot. JB meets with Principal Guerra (Oscar Nunez), who insists they act coldly with students in a military style to prepare the male students for careers in the military; JB disagrees with the tactic. At an assembly, JB recognizes the group of boys from the driving range called to the principal’s office. JB learns from Guerra that a state high school golf championship is played each year at Del Rio, and JB is interested in learning how the boys got so good at the game; Joe admits to being the one who hit the ball, and JB lets them all go. After school, JB finds the boys at El Llanito and offers them the chance to make up for his broken window by agreeing to become the high school’s new golf team; all the boys but Joe agree, and everyone acknowledges that without Joe, they won’t stand a chance.

JB goes home and tells his father, Adelio (Jimmy Gonzalez), about the offer; Adelio does not trust the offer is genuine and supports his decision to decline because he thinks the club members would laugh at a Mexican golf player. Frank and Gayle (Gillian Vigman), the club secretary, come for dinner with JB and Lucy. Frank tells everyone the story of how they met when JB asked for golf tips. JB invites Frank to become his assistant golf coach and asks for Frank’s help to use the country club course for practice on Mondays when the club is closed. JB confronts Joe about his decision not to play and his stubbornness, and JB tells Joe to consider where he wants his life to be in the future. JB and Frank arrive at El Llanito, and Frank agrees to become the boys’ coach when he sees how impressive their makeshift golf course is.

Joe speaks with Pollo about the opportunity for a golf team, and Pollo convinces Joe to change his mind. Joe shows up to practice, and Frank and JB begin coaching the group. Joe gets annoyed when JB continues to tell the team to change how they play; JB insists that they need to play by the rules of the game and act like they belong, so he insists the boys show up in the future with shirts tucked in and no longer speak Spanish when playing. The group continues training, practicing while at work, and playing at the club at night and in the rain. One night, Pollio catches them playing and gifts the team with a collection of golf clubs, clothing, and gear that he has salvaged over the years on the job.

The team competes in its first championship and is immediately ostracized for not being white. Judge Cox shows up with Tim and is unhappy that the boys are playing. The team performs admirably, and though they do not place in the top three teams, their sportsmanship and skill impress the event’s organizers, and they are invited to compete in the next tournament. The team goes to a diner to celebrate but is denied service by the racist employees; Joe hits golf balls through the diner windows, and everyone jumps into the car and speeds off. JB scolds Joe for his actions, insisting that being aggressive will only make it more dangerous for future Mexicans who encounter racists.

Joe discovers a photograph of him at the tournament, which has made the front page of the local newspaper, so he rips it out before giving it to his father. Joe and Adelio attend a local barbecue; Felipe and Gene are excited about the press, but Joe insists they continue to hide it. A local man eventually shares the news with Adelio, teasing him about his son being a “dandy.” Joe is embarrassed, and Daniella chides him for acting so confident at school and then hiding his skills when it matters; she takes him to a spot above a farm silo where she goes to write, and the two share their dreams of getting out of the town one day. Joe wakes up in the middle of the night to find Adelio burning his golf clubs, telling Joe that everyone will laugh at him if he tries to be a golfer. Joe pushes Adelio to the ground, making his prosthetic leg fall off.

Frank tricks JB and Lucy into attending a golf game with himself, Gayle, Mr. Glenn, Judge Cox, and their wives. Judge Cox is unhappy to play with JB, and his wife teases Lucy about her outfit. To get them to leave, Cox suggests playing for money; JB balks while Lucy accepts the challenge, though Frank changes the bet from money to each couple’s golf clubs. The group plays the course, and JB and Frank win handily; Frank suggests they throw the game to win over Cox and Mr. Dean and help their egos, offering to buy JB a new set of clubs. JB, Frank, Gayle, and Lucy proceed to lose the game, their clubs, and Cox cockily walks away. At home, Lucy laments to JB about how she often feels judged and left out for not having kids, and the two share romantic moments.

The boys talk with JB and Frank about how their ambitions in life revolve around joining the military because it is their only option; Frank suggests they think bigger, but the boys and JB all agree that no one will respect them because they are Mexican.

Time passes as the boys continue to practice and play well in tournaments. Joe and Daniella begin a romance and attend a school dance together. At a tournament, Tim Cox removes the flag from the hole and purposefully mars the course to hurt Joe’s shot chances; Joe gets angry and is disqualified. The team substitutes Gene’s strong scores instead, as he is the team’s alternate, and the team qualifies for the state championship. Later, at their hotel, Frank disagrees with JB, saying the boys need to always play by the rules to be accepted and relates a story about how when they followed the rules during the war, many men lost their lives. The boys sneak out and cross the river into Mexico to get drinks; when they arrive at a local bar, they are teased by the locals for not being true Mexicans, so they start a fight and then race back to the US.

Joe takes Daniella on a date and suggests they move in together to start a life after graduation. Danielle reveals that she has been accepted into a writers’ program in Austin; when she invites Joe to join her, he gets angry and insults her.

The two-day final tournament begins with the boys facing prejudice from all the other competitors, including Tim. The team is performing well, but the game is interrupted by the arrival of the police to arrest Joe for vandalism at the diner, tied to him because the golf balls he hit had his initials on them. Judge Wilcox offers the team a deal that no charges will be pressed if the team withdraws from the tournament. Before Joe can agree, JB claims he is guilty, infuriating Wilcox. JB goes to prison but is quickly released once Principal Guerra pulls some strings with the local police force, to who he is related. JB gets drunk and goes to hit golf balls at the club; Pollo interrupts him and tells him to keep fighting.

The team shows up for the second day of competition. JB tells them to be themselves and that they belong here no matter what others say, apologizing for his past advice to try and fit in. The team plays in downpour rain as JB sits in his car off-property, receiving updates on the score from Lucy. The team is in first place going into the final hole; as Joe prepares to golf, Tim gives him a false penalty since no one else is around to prove him wrong. Tim taunts Joe and tries to get him to fight so he will be disqualified, but Joe restrains himself and nails his final shot, winning the game despite the penalty.

The team retrieves their trophy but is denied the traditional awards ceremony because of their background. The team confidently walks back through the country club lobby to leave, inspiring other Mexican staff and annoying the members. The team returns to their town and is met by a giant crowd cheering them on, including Lucy, Principal Guerra, Pollo, and Adelio, who gives Joe a subtle nod of recognition. Sometime later, Joe calls JB to tell him that he won’t make the upcoming tee time they had planned as he has gone to Austin to visit Daniella and try to make a fresh start with her.

Post-script reveals:

  • Lupe served as a Marine for 30 years and is still an active golfer.
  • Felipe played professional golf before attending business school
  • Mario became a professional PGA caddie
  • Gene became a teacher at the high school
  • Joe declined offers to play golf at university and became a civil servant for 34 years
  • JB served as superintendent and coach until he passed away in 1986
  • The team was inducted into the Latino International Sports Hall of Fame, and their record score remained unbroken at the tournament for 36 years