February 27, 2020

Junior golfer gives back to TGR Foundation

For junior golfer Vanessa Ngo, golf has always been more than a game. The sport has given her new friendships and lifelong memories while fostering in her a drive to succeed and a desire to give back. As a junior coach, Vanessa volunteers her time training beginner golfers as well as disabled adults and veterans. Her spirit of generosity doesn’t end there. Vanessa recently donated her tournament winnings to TGR Foundation. In an interview with the foundation, Vanessa speaks about her passion for the game and her commitment to giving back.

TGR Foundation: Describe how you developed your love and passion for the game of golf?

Vanessa Ngo: I started playing golf at the age of eight, but I really didn’t enjoy playing until my mom found the Tiger Woods Learning Center, now TGR Learning Lab. I started to meet friends and compete in tournaments. Some of my earliest events included TGR Learning Lab Club Championships. I really enjoyed playing in them, since I was able to play with peers that I met from Saturday clinics. Also, I was inspired by Coach Roman Gonzales, or Coach G as his students call him, and the other coaches at the learning lab. I realized early on that I wanted to help others through coaching golf like they do. Both playing and coaching golf continue to be my passion till this day.

Vanessa poses with her TGR Learning Lab golf coaches after placing in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

TGRF: What role did TGR Foundation play in helping you develop your game?

VN: I’ve been a member at TGR Foundation for five years. All of my peers and the coaching staff have been with me from the start. Clinics have helped me gain friends, experience and most importantly, unforgettable memories. Even now, I feel like I learn something every time I leave the center. Thanks to all the generous donors, the learning lab is an incredible facility with the most caring staff. We have learned everything from bunker shots, to driving, chipping, accuracy with our irons and even more advanced techniques like flop shots and shot shaping. However, the most valuable thing for me is the that the learning lab taught me how to enjoy the game as well as gain confidence in myself.    

TGRF: How are you bringing golf to your peers and community?

VN: In the past, I started an after-school program at my former school, Castille Elementary School, using Starting New At Golf (SNAG) equipment to introduce the sport to beginner golfers. I’ve also volunteered at many golfing facilities and camps to teach junior golf. Currently, I’ve settled at Lake Forest Golf and Practice Center and have four private students of my own, who I instruct free of charge. Also, I participate in coaching clinics at Camp Pendleton and El Dorado Golf Club with Coach Joe Grohman to assist disabled adults and veterans.  Finally, I participate in LPGA*USGA Girls Golf events, assisting younger girls and organizing a bi-weekly golf playdate. It’s an outing where high school girls in the area can meet and play a nine-hole round, normally a scramble, at Lake Forest.

Inspired by the TGR Learning Lab’s junior golf program, Vanessa started one of her own. Paying forward her experiences from TGR Foundation, she provides clinics for elementary students at her alma mater.

TGRF: Tell us about the Dreyfuss Scholarship Tournament?

VN: The Gilbert Dreyfuss Scholarship Tournament is an annual event hosted by Mr. Randy Dreyfuss, in honor of his father. It’s played at La Cañada Flintridge Country Club and is an eighteen-hole, stroke play tournament. The first-place winner is given a script of $1,000, second place earns $500 and third place wins $250. I was awarded $250 for third place, which I split and donated to both the TGR Learning Lab and the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA)Jr.

TGRF: What motivated you to donate your tournament winnings to TGR Foundation and SCGA Junior?

VN: After the tournament, I thought about what I was going to do with my earnings. Donating had always been something I had in my mind. I thought it would mean more to me if I donated the money I received from the tournament because it was money I earned myself, not my parents’ money.  Plus, without TGR Foundation and SCGA Jr., I would have never had some of the golfing memories I cherish today. 

After placing 3rd in a junior golf tournament, Vanessa presented a check to TGR Foundation with appreciation for the impact the golf program has had on her life.

TGRF: Why has golf been such an impactful part of your life?  

VN: I never really chose to play golf; I feel like it came to me. My parents just wanted a sport to teach me life lessons. However, the more I played and the more I learned, I had the urge to keep going. Although I don’t get much time outside of golf, I don’t mind. Golf has given me a lot of great opportunities and memories, but it isn’t all about the game. It’s about giving back and helping others. Not every kid I help will continue playing golf, but when there’s a kid who I inspired to continue and succeed, it reminds me why I want to pursue golf.  I can never thank Coach G and the people at TGR Learning Lab enough.

Redefining what it means to be a champion.

With support from the Niagara Cares Foundation and TGR Live events, the golf program at the TGR Learning Lab is designed to promote golf to underserved youth, provide golf-course access and expose kids to careers in the golf industry. In addition, the Player Development Program builds honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship while honing golf knowledge and skills.