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CSULB donors Dan and Desiree Gooch pay it forward by supporting women's golf

Published January 22, 2021

Dan Gooch ‘72 never forgot what his mother, a single parent raising four boys, told him and his brothers.

“When you are able to, be sure to give back,” he recalled his mother saying. It is a philosophy that has inspired Gooch and his wife, Desiree, to donate to Cal State Long Beach for 30 years. 

The focus of their giving has been the women’s golf team, a non-revenue sport. The couple established the Marie C. Gooch for Women’s Golf Endowment, named after his mother, in 2018 with a $100,000 gift and they recently donated an additional $50,000 to help female golfers compete at an elevated level and earn a college education. 

The couple began donating to the women’s program a few years earlier, smaller amounts that would help the program stay afloat. Previously, they had helped save the men’s program from being cut from the athletic department’s budget, along with other sports, through a handful of fundraising golf tournaments.

Supporting the women’s program was not a difficult decision, he said, since the need was there. When he told Coach Marty Walker of his intention, she became emotional. Then-coach Marty Walker was married to Del Walker, who was the men’s golf coach at same the time. 

“The look (of gratitude) in her eyes when I told her, let me know that we were making the right move,” Gooch said. “That’s the reason you help others. The Walkers are marvelous people. They have dedicated their whole lives to helping kids. 

“They didn’t get a whole lot of money (from the athletic department), so anything they got made a significant impact.” 

Gooch has been giving back to the university since he graduated with a B.A. in political science/public administration, or nearly as long as he has been playing golf. Calling himself a frustrated athlete, Gooch discovered that golf allows for handicaps, which put him on a level playing field with his friends. 

“It allowed me to participate at a level I could compete,” he said. 

His love of the sport grew, playing in, and staging, local tournaments and following the success of the Long Beach State men’s team. When he heard that the men’s program was slated to be dropped, he contacted then-athletic director Corey Johnson.

“He (Johnson) gave us 30 days to raise $80,000, so along with the good folks at Virginia Country Club and a lot of good citizens of Long Beach, we managed to do that, and the men’s program continued,” Gooch said. He then turned his attention to the women’s program. 

The couple’s support has allowed Long Beach State to offer scholarships to higher quality women players. Since the first scholarships were awarded from the endowment, the women’s golf team has won back-to-back Big West Conference championships and two individual conference titles and have finished third and fourth in two NCAA Tournament appearances.

That simple gesture forged a bond that continues today. The couple not only maintain their golf scholarship, but the Gooches also have routinely stage season-ending banquets for the team and stay connected with many of the current and former golfers. 

“My wife has been a partner in it all,” Gooch said. “It’s nice to be around young people. It keeps us in touch with the university. But you have to be on your toes.” 

Gooch said their motivation to give is simple. 

“Our goal is to help the golf program and the university athletic department, but it is also to hopefully encourage others to donate as well,” Gooch said. “Those that can, I believe, will find it really rewarding.”