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Turlock’s Van Gaalen sets eyes on Masters
clark van gaalen
Clark Van Gaalen

Turlock High’s Clark Van Gaalen fired a three-under-par 69 last Tuesday against Gregori, then came back a day later to shoot a seven-under 65, which included eagles on holes 13 and 16, against Downey in a pair of a Central California Athletic League victories at Turlock Golf and Country Club.

Then, on Monday, Van Gaalen teamed up with Bulldogs Harry Clark and Aiden Salcedo to card a combined 61, the lowest score by a threesome at the Crosstown Cup scramble golf tournament, co-hosted by Turlock and Pitman high schools.

The 6-foot-4, 165-pound Van Gaalen, who burst onto the scene with a 66 in his opening round as a freshman in 2021, is still searching for his first Sac-Joaquin Section Masters championship. He’ll get the chance to qualify for Masters at the divisional tournament May 6 at Turlock Golf and Country Club — literally his home course. Not only is TG&CC the home of the Bulldogs, but the Van Gaalen family’s front door sits along the back nine. It’s not unusual for the University of Oklahoma-bound Van Gaalen to play 54 holes there during the weekend. 

“I’ve been working a lot on shot-shaping and trying to be more accurate off the tee, stuff like that,” said Van Gaalen. “As long as I’m able to put more and more work in, and keep the body healthy, I should be able to go into those tournaments and play well.”
After Tuesday’s CCAL Midseason Tournament at The Reserve in Stockton, Van Gaalen will leave today for a tournament in Florida; play a practice round Thursday; play Friday, Saturday and Sunday; the fly home and play in the Gary Rovig Invitational on Monday in Copperopolis.
“I’ve been playing so long and I’ve played so many tournaments in very short spans where there really is no break,” said Van Gaalen, who has battled strep throat, COVID and a nasty cold over the past six weeks. “I think it was two summers ago, where I was gone for three weeks. Twenty-one days and I had two or three days off, and I was traveling. I think it’s harder on the mind than it is the body.”


Age: 18

Grade: Senior

Favorite class: TCLM (Transitioning College Level Math)

Favorite food: Italian

Hobbies: Ping-pong; hanging out with friends; basketball

Dream college: Oklahoma

Favorite movie: “The Shack” or “Hacksaw Ridge”

Favorite TV show: “The Family Guy”

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite athlete: Scottie Scheffler

Favorite team: Golden State Warriors

Last book read: The Bible

Favorite artist: Cody Johnson

Three songs on my playlist: “Good Day” by Forrest Frank; “If I Got Jesus,” by Ben Fuller; “Slow It Down,” by Benson Boone

Finish this sentence: I can’t live without … Jesus

Finish this sentence: In 10 years, I will be … a PGA Tour golfer