Wally Gonzalez is passionate about golf. Not only does the rising University of Hartford sophomore play for the Hawks golf team, but in his spare time while at school in Connecticut, Gonzalez also volunteers with the local First Tee program where he helps teach kids about the positive impact golf can make in their lives.
Gonzalez' first year as a collegiate golfer was a successful one. He played in 10 of his team's 11 tournaments, and ended the year ranked third on the Hawks, good enough to receive a scholarship spot for the upcoming school year. Not bad for a freshman.
"I was a regular traveler with the team, which meant I got to play numerous courses," said Gonzalez, who is one of three Livingston Family Foundation scholars in the 2012 SCGA Foundation scholar class. "My favorite was Newport National GC in Rhode Island. The atmosphere and beauty of the course was incredible."
A trip that especially stands out to Gonzalez was one to Oregon, when the team traveled to a tournament at Bandon Trails. The team played a practice round under less than ideal weather conditions, but for Gonzalez it only reaffirmed his love of the game.
"It was raining, hailing and there were winds 40-50mph," he said. "To tell you the truth, it made me remember why I liked golf in the first place. The experience was a once-in-a-lifetime one. Even with that weather I was just so happy to be playing 18 holes out there."
The transition to collegiate golf can be difficult for some, but Gonzalez credits his high school, St. Augustine in San Diego, with sufficiently preparing him for the rigors of college.
"I was forced to manage my time in high school with golf and academics in order to play for the team, so that made my transition to college a little bit easier," he said. "When I go to a tournament, I talk to professors a week in advance and do my best to turn all assignments in before I leave, rather than after. This keeps my stress level lower rathen than saving all my work for when I get back from the trip."
This summer, Gonzalez hopes to continue to improve his game so he can make even more of an impact on his team next season. Improving his confidence and golf course management skills sit at the top of the list of "things to work on" during this offseason.
"My confidence tends to go up and down, which causes me to second guess certain shots that I know I should pull off successfully," he said."
While his goal is to be number one on the team next year, that doesn't mean he won't enjoy his first summer back at home.
"Being back in San Diego!!" he said, when asked what he was looking forward to most out of his summer vacation. "Going to school on the East Coast has made me realize just how blessed I am to have a home in sunny San Diego. This summer, I will most likely hang out with my friends, play in a couple of golf tournaments, and just enjoy the San Diego sunshine."
To meet more scholars from the 2012 class, click here.