We have a give-back program to our low-income youth surrounding each academy location in the U.S., as well as our donation centers in the Cape Flats regions of Cape Town, South Africa. Our give-back program in the surrounding community is a “scholarship” program we offer to families that are not able to afford golf. For every 10 active students, we donate 1 full scholarship that we pay for a junior to join our academies program. Our donation center makes sure to give low-income families a way to play this game for free through donations we send from 20% of our profits. By being involved in this academy, you are helping this game grow to levels where it never reached before. This game should be for everyone, and unfortunately, it is only for the select few. Our number one mission is to grow this game through our community programs and give the opportunity to learn life skills through golf for everyone.
We are the only full-time player development academy that focuses on families with an emphasis on juniors. We have multiple sites around the country with plans to open into the hundreds. We offer classes year-round at our locations, have the lowest ratios in the country, hire only certified PGA professionals who are educated in the latest development styles and do this all at an affordable price. We are a membership academy like no other, and offer seasonal camps 12 weeks a year, field trips for our junior members to golf-specific places (PGA Tour Events, fitting centers), and provide a unique supportive golf community that grows together. We offer educational seminars, drop-in clinics, open house events, and special events throughout the year open to our members and their guests. We instruct adults using the latest equipment and teaching methodologies and can work with any age, and ability.
Tony grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has been in and around golf since he was 4 years old. He is a third-generation golfer and spent his entire life dedicated to his craft. Being a junior golfer in the 1980s, he felt it was instrumental for shaping his mentality, and provided him a glimpse of how life worked and gave him an advantage over other children his age. He wants to make sure the next generation and onward will have the same opportunities he did by introducing golf in their lives.
He was involved in many sports as a youth and continued to play them throughout his childhood. He shared a love for martial arts, and earned a black belt in Taekwondo in 1996, and was training to fight competitively. After some thought on what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, he decided to focus his career in golf which began in 1998. Working the country club environment at multiple facilities including the famed Riviera Country Club, he becomes one of the youngest Head Professionals at 26. In 2006 he had an urge to play professionally, and for the next 3 years focused on playing as a career. At the end of the 3-year commitment to playing, he found himself teaching more, so he decided to switch his career from playing to teaching, and pursued the PGA Masters Program. He earned the PGA Masters in 2016 making him one of the youngest in the country at 38 and continued under the PGA Legacy Program. A feat he shares with less than 1% of the population of PGA Professionals in the world (1 of 350 professionals since 1969). Fast forward until today, and his corporation is now responsible for opening multiple sites across the country and world, creating careers for fellow PGA members, saving golf courses from closures by introducing new communities through his academies, and donating funds to his sister site in South Africa by partnering up with the Heal the Hood Foundation.
2021 GRAA Top 100 in U.S. Growth of the Game Professionals
2020 ADM Certified
2018 GRAA Top 50 in U.S. Growth of the Game Professionals
Mr. Iorio is a Class A PGA member who has been working in the golf industry since 1986. Mr. Iorio brings a tremendous amount of Instructional experience to Lion Golf Academy as the Director of Instruction. Mr. Iorio has spent most of his career in Golf Education focusing on Player Development and Instruction. Mr. Iorio has established his career through golf clubs such as Fieldstone Golf Club in Greenville Delaware, Hartefeld National Golf Club in Avondale Pennsylvania, Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover Kansas, Terradyne Resort hotel & Country Club in Andover Kansas, Sim Park Municipal Golf Course in Wichita Kansas and Oakwood Country Club in Enid Oklahoma. Mr. Iorio has spent the last 16 years of his career with Golf Academy of America as the Campus President for the San Diego Campus and Professional Golfers Career College as Director of Golf and Placement Director. Mr. Iorio is also a graduate from Wichita State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sports Business and was a three-year letterman on the Wichita State University golf team. Mr. Iorio is an expert in the use of video, 3D motion analysis, launch monitor technology, club fitting, and is a TPI certified golf instructor. Mr. Iorio is actively involved in the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club volunteering his time developing new and enhancing existing programs.
Jacky Huang was born in Shenzhen, China and raised in Southern California. Coming from a musical background, Jacky has many years of experience coaching some the most distinguished high school marching bands in Southern California. Five years ago, as a senior studying Psychology at USC (Go Trojans!), Jacky really developed his passion for golf. He has trained with various swing coaches since then and is still learning how to improve everyday! Combining his love for teaching and his love for golf, Jacky’s goal is to eventually become a PGA Professional in order to help develop both the physical and mental sides of his students’ golf game.
He says, “I am ecstatic to be joining such a prestigious team as the Lion Golf Academy. I am ready to improve myself as I try to help others improve in this wild game we call golf.”
I’m his free time, besides golfing, Jacky makes hip-hop/pop music and enjoys grilling with his friends.
Paul Zixing Zou was born and raised in Guangzhou, China. He joined the Lion Golf Academy in 2017 and loves to work with families and students of all ages. He has been teaching golf since 2000 in many countries over the world and has been involved in some of the most respected businesses in golf in Asia. Paul also speaks fluent English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
2020 ADM Certified
2018 PGA associate.
2017 TPI Certified
2010-2012 Producer and investor for Daily Golf in Guangdong Sports Channel
2010-2014 Panelist for “TOP 100 Asian Golf courses”
2009-2013 Tournament Player in the Chinese Golf Tour
Thurlo Jansen tirelessly gives back to the game of golf by offering out of pocket programs with inner-city youth in Cape Town, South Africa, and its surrounding areas. Thurlo who is a retired firefighter teaches the secrets of life through golf. He has helped thousands of juniors who would never have had a chance to try this game, and to love it. Some even go on to being club professionals and aspiring tour professionals. We have partnered up with Thurlo, and are sending what we can through our programs in America. The goal is to promote this game of golf through the communities that support it. We are proud to have Thurlo on board with us, and we cannot wait for many more years of prosperous growth both in America, South Africa, and eventually the world!
James S. Davenport “DP” was born and raised in San Diego, CA. He comes from a large military Family and as such he enlisted in the United States Navy with his Brother when he was 19 years old. He deployed to nine different countries and was stationed in locations from Gulfport, MS. to Pearl Harbor, HI and even in his hometown of San Diego at 32nd Street Naval Base where he became an Instructor.
While stationed in Hawaii, James really took to the game of golf and was involved with fundraising and participating in tournaments for charity. James grew his obsession for golf and even taught his Wife Jesica how to play, this is the way they spend their weekends and time off together. His love for golf and charity has grown over the years allowing him to coordinate and manage seven annual golf tournaments and work in support of many more. James has played the game in almost every country he’s been to.
James retired from the Navy after 26 years as Senior Enlisted Leader and the rank of Senior Chief. Prior to his retirement and with his Wife’s blessing, he decided to take his passion for golf and pursue an education at the Professional Golfers Careers College where he is currently enrolled. His goal is to ultimately become a PGA Professional Instructor so he can devote his time and give back to military members, Veterans, and Wounded Warriors with the PGA HOPE program and other avenues.
Bryce was born and raised in Southern California. He has played golf all of his life. He has been teaching since 2018. “Teaching golf is by far what I am most passionate about, I love seeing growth and making a difference for people in this great game”. Bryce is a great instructor, especially for the juniors, as he himself was a junior golfer which turned into a high school and college venture through golf. He understands how to develop a child through golf, and is living proof of what can happen through this game.
I was born and raised in a small farming and ranching community called Fairfield, MT. I lived there until I graduated High school and joined the USMC. I served 8 years in the Marines and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn’t pick up golf until I got out of the USMC and was living in Billings, MT. My brother introduced me to golf in 2015 and I immediately fell in love with it. Shortly after being introduced to golf, I got a part time job at a golf course so I could play anytime I wanted and work on becoming a better golfer. After golfing and working part time at a golf course for a couple of years I decided that “THIS” is what I wanted to do, and this is something I could do for the rest of my life as a career. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the Golf Industry, I just knew I wanted to be part of something I am so passionate about.
I attended both the Golf Academy of America in Phoenix and the Professional Golfer’s Career College in Temecula before receiving a Specialized Associates in Professional Golf Course Management, August 2020. While attending school I worked as an Assistant Golf Professional at Indian Wells Country Club, Indian Wells, CA. After one season I moved to the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, CA. It is the home of the Kraft/Nabisco and ANA Inspiration Championship. It is the LPGA’s first major of the year. I was able to work two major championships while there and I was an Assistant Golf Professional. I joined the PGA as an associate, and I am still working towards becoming a PGA Class A member. My wife and I relocated to San Diego in October, and I started working at Lion Golf Academy shortly after. I am excited to be in San Diego and with Lion Golf Academy, and look forward to helping many families share in this journey that golf can lead them down.
My name is Andrew Hernandez but I go by Drew. I come from a big Cuban family from New Jersey but was raised in sunny south Florida. I was an athlete all my life and played baseball at Wake Tech Communnity College in NC, where I received an Associates of Arts in Sports Management and later went on to NC State to get my Bachelors in Sports Management. It was not until I moved to California where I played golf for the first time and feel in love with the game. That is when I decided to enroll myself at PGCC to further educate myself about the game.
Christopher Chang was born in Lansing, Michigan and raised in Seoul, Korea for 5 years and 18 years in Southern California. Coming from a competitive educational background, Chris has many years of experience in Orchestra, Golf, and extracurricular activities. Chris has been playing golf for 15 years throughout his middle school and high school participating in CIF, SCPGA, and AJGA. Although, great passion towards playing golf was over the roof, Chris dedicated his time towards studying during college rather playing golf, with a BA degree at the University of California, Irvine.
Ever since the difficult time of covid-19 Chris once again, began to pursue his “serious hobby”, golf. Chris is a competitive golfer currently participating in GST, and Monday Qualifiers.
Chris’ experience in the field of education and golf is a brilliant set up for him and he will continue to work on his game of golf while working with students and his colleagues.
He says, “no matter what age, working with students is a powerful tool as a player but also as a teacher because I learn a lot from them” , “It is a roller coaster of a game and I'm thrilled to see what this sport can bring to the table each day."
In his free time, besides golfing, Chris spends time going to the beach, going to the gym, and traveling.
Paul loves to play games, interacting with others. His favorite part of school was recess. As an adult, he played professional tennis, coached tennis from the beginner to a touring pro with over 30 years experience.
His retirement career in golf is both as a caddy and coach.
Paul considers it an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to be a part of Lion Golf Academy.