We believe sports change lives. We’ve seen this take shape in many ways over the past 15 years at TGA. From the little self-esteem boost that comes along with the first time a child nails a tough skill, to the camaraderie that develops amongst teammates who turn into lifelong friends. There are so many amazing benefits that we get from playing sports, recreationally or competitively. We recently caught up with Brandon Bueno, one of TGA’s first students back in 2003, who is still playing the sport he fell in love with as a child, now as a member of a Division-1 college team.
We first met Brandon when he was an energetic four-year-old who just wanted to play. “Since I could remember, every thought I had throughout my day was geared toward getting out and playing something, anything” says Brandon while he reflects on the role sports have played in his life. “It’s a never-ending hunger to accomplish something you never have before that feels so good… that passion totally fueled me from a young age, and still does today.”
His father Mauricio introduced him to golf at a young age and recalls, “it was very clear to me that he had a passion for the game and needed to have a structured, friendly and instructional environment where he could learn all the aspects of golf as well as to compete with peers of his age.” Mauricio found that TGA provided the perfect outlet to channel his young son’s passion and start developing his skills and knowledge about the game.
Fast forward 15 years, Brandon is now playing on one of the top golf teams in the country at the University of California, Santa Barbara. But he is quick to note that the journey wasn’t always easy and connects the lessons he has learned through sports to helping him persevere along the way. “Sports played a huge impact in my life because it taught me that I would not always win, not always get what I want, and in reality, fail a lot more than I would succeed. It really gave me a taste of what it felt like both to win and lose, and therefore forced me to work and practice to achieve that rewarding feeling that hooked me from a young age.”
Brandon’s game has come a long way from when he first started playing with TGA, but there are some aspects he says have stuck with him through the years. He explains that “playing golf requires a total body effort, both mental and physical… understanding all the different factors and variables that make every shot unique and tying them together to formulate a plan is a skill that I first began to develop at TGA when I was little.”
His father adds that he has also witnessed “tremendous positive character development that had its roots not only at home but at the TGA program” and credits playing sports with helping Brandon develop excellent social skills and confidence along with many lifelong friendships.
Those skills were put to good use this past summer when Brandon returned to his roots at a TGA Premier Golf Camp in Los Angeles, CA. But this time, he was the coach with plenty of wisdom to impart on his young pupils. He relished the opportunity to help this next generation of athletes channel their energy and passion into the game and was able to experience that same rewarding feeling through his students’ accomplishments. “It was very evident how badly they wanted to make more putts or hit better drives. Working through that process with them and then the rush of joy that ran through both of us when it finally happened gave me many moments I won’t forget.”
We are very proud of everything Brandon has accomplished thus far and we see a very bright future ahead for him, both on and off the course. His story is just one example of how sports can change lives. We’d love to hear your family’s story about how sports have had a positive impact on your lives. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story.