When speaking about golf and teaching the game to youth, there’s an incredible sound of passion in Giovanni Sandoval’s voice. Not to mention after only four years, he’s a 3 handicap. He went from an SCGA Junior student to now working as a coach. Thanks to the SCGA Junior Scholar Program, he will be attending Cal State Fullerton in the Fall, majoring in political science—with plans to try out for their golf team.

Imagine being a baseball player through and through, but your family drags you to the driving range one day because your sister plays golf. That one day changed Gio’s life forever.

“A coach came up to me and asked if I was interested [in learning the game], and SCGA Junior was offering classes. I joined in 2014 and haven’t looked back,” Sandoval said. “I went to all the classes and I just wanted to learn and grow in the game. This led me into volunteering, which I love very much.”

Now, baseball is a very fast paced, team oriented sport. But, when Gio switched to golf, he really enjoyed the dramatic change.

“I call it a getaway—golf is so relaxing. I go and play when I’m stressed out. It gives me time to think,” he said.

He also finds a better connection with golf and his life outside the game.

“Like I tell the kids I teach – just like in life, there’s always a different lie, and you have 14 different clubs to choose from to hit that shot. Golf helps us see beyond.”

Inspired by his former SCGA Junior coach Justin Doyle, Gio is a coach himself at Don Knabe GC and Pico Rivera GC.

“[SCGA Junior] always made it interesting for me, there’s never a dull moment in the class.” Gio said. “Justin ignited that spark in me and now this is something I want to do.”

Doyle wrote a glowing Letter of Recommendation for Gio’s scholarship application, expressing how perfect he is to receive such an honor:

“What separates Giovanni from others is he proceeded to outwork everyone around him. His commitment level to improving is insatiable. Giovanni wants to know more, so he can do more. The consistency he showed me I feel is a rarity. I never had to ask Giovanni to volunteer, he would just be there. To me, Giovanni shows tremendous potential to be a leader in whatever venture he decides to enter later in life.”

Gio says he’s still learning all the kid’s names and needs to get his CPR certification, but he’s well on his way to becoming a great addition to the SCGA Junior family.

“No matter what I do in life, I want to continue being in golf,” he said.” This organization has changed my life, and I’m very grateful.”