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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Savannah Van Gaalen
Savannah Van Gaalen
Turlock High golfer Savannah Van Gaalen

Turlock High golfer Savannah Van Gaalen fired a 1-under par 71 at the Merced Invitational Tournament on Saturday, taking medalist honors and helping the Bulldogs capture the team title. In addition, Van Gaalen carded back-to-back rounds of even par last week — 36 at Turlock Golf and Country Club and a 37 at Dryden (Modesto) — to help her team get off to a fast start in Central California Athletic League play.

“I’ve been a little hot lately,” said Van Gaalen, the reigning Most Valuable Player in the CCAL, who helped the Bulldogs claim the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 banner last October. “I was just trying to keep it going. Right now, the swing is feeling really good and I’m striking the ball really well. It’s going well.”

Van Gaalen, who has an NCGA handicap index of .02 and just recently received an invite to play in the Elite Invitational in South Carolina this November, has the same goals this year that she had in 2022.

“I just want to be MVP of our team, then of league, and then try to win as many tournaments as we can,” she said.


Age: 16

Grade: Junior

Hobbies: Other than golf, I’m pretty artistic, and I like hanging out with friends and family and my dogs.

Pets: We have three dogs. A yellow lab named Copper, a black lab named Rocket, and we rescued a dog that’s part lab and part Swiss hound — that’s Hunter; he’s my dog.

Favorite class: Math 3, then Anatomy and Physiology.

Favorite food: Fresh fruit.

Dream college: I have a few — TCU, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. I’ve just been looking into a lot of them. 

Go-to emoji: The laughing emoji.

Ringtone: The basic iPhone ringtone, not anything special.

Three songs on your playlist: “Tennessee Orange” by Megan Moroney; “Growing Old with You” by Restless Road; “Would You Go With Me” by Josh Turner.

I can’t live without … My family, friends and dogs. And golf.

In 10 years, I will be … Hopefully, on the LPGA Tour. That’s the main goal. And I hope to have my own family and life outside of golf.