TEMECULA – If you know golf and haven’t heard the name Sebastian Glenn yet, don’t worry, it’s only a matter of time before you do. Glenn, now 15 years old, was one of the top-ranked junior golfers in the country just a few short years ago. Then COVID-19 hit, shaking things up for not just Sebastian and his family, but for families all over the world.

The young golfer, who by age eight already had a hole-in-one under his belt (another at age 12), took advantage of the world’s down time and spent as much time as he could perfecting his craft. With his father Jamie in tow, Sebastian learned every nook and cranny of most of the local courses, especially Redhawk and Temecula Creek Inn, when they were open during the pandemic.

“Redhawk is in our back yard and being so close really helped him work on his approach to the sport,” Jamie said. “Temecula Creek Inn also played a huge part in working on his game. They kept Sebastian on as one of their only remaining members after they changed ownership years back, and he knows both courses like the back of his hand.”

A self-taught, left-handed phenom, Sebastian is a magician on the course. As the Valley News Sports Editor, I know this because I just played a round with him last week at Redhawk. I was in awe at every turn. His putting skills are incredible, his drives are amazing, and his ability to place a ball on the green from 100 yards out is second to none. As a bogey golfer, with some pars and birdies that come and go, I learned a lot about my game from Sebastian that day, even though he barely knows what shooting bogey golf is all about.

Currently a golfer for Great Oak High School, 15-year-old Sebastian Glenn is a self-taught, left-handed phenom on the rise, battling Leukemia. Valley News/JP Raineri photo

In fact, his only two bogeys on the day came from him trying to show me some things he was working on, which I didn’t even fault him for. Of course, being a stickler for the rules, he policed himself, taking the extra shots on his scorecard. Talk about an amazing kid!

The thing that made our round even more amazing was Sebastian had just gone through a round of chemotherapy days earlier, and that morning he had just been diagnosed with pancreatitis, for a second time in the past couple of years. This time it will require him to wear a medical backpack for about 30 days, which will keep him off the course as the new year begins.

Sebastian and his family received the life-altering news last year that he has Lymphoblastic Leukemia/Lymphoma, which obviously came as a shock to everyone. Just days before he found out, Sebastian was on the golf course making his way through the CIF Southern Section playoffs with his teammates from Great Oak when back pain started to hit him in a way he had never felt before.

As a freshman on the varsity golf team, he didn’t want to say anything about the pain since he didn’t want to hinder his team’s chances of winning. While he couldn’t bend over to get his ball at the end of his second day of the tournament, he tried to take some time to try to rest, but when his pain wouldn’t subside, the family began the journey of finding out what was wrong with him.

“There was a lot of praying going on,” Jamie said. “There was so much coming our way from the medical professionals we were working with. From the discussion of rare blood diseases to ones involving cancer, we knew whatever the ultimate diagnoses was going to be, he was going to have a fight ahead of him.”

The young golf prodigy, who is also a stud on the basketball court and is a huge NBA and Syracuse University Basketball fan, spends most days trying to juggle the pain and anxiety that cancer brings, while keeping his hope of one day playing professional alive. Sebastian sleeps with his 56-degree wedge, which recently replaced his 60-degree one that occupied the pillow next to him. His reasoning stems from the fact that it’s a very important club for professional golfers to use and he said with a smirk, “I have to be really good from outside the green with it, or else I better find something else to do.”

In 2022, Sebastian Glenn, pictured here (middle) with his Great Oak golf team, received the life-altering news that he has Lymphoblastic Leukemia/Lymphoma. Valley News/Courtesy photo

When he wakes up in the morning there is a whole list of things Sebastian has to do before practicing golf can even come in to play. A lengthy list includes taking his daily medicine, eating healthy meals, and of course, school work, which he gets to do at home thanks to TVUSD, which has a program in place so he can practice and work while he goes through this portion of his sickness. Along with Jamie, his mother Veronica and older sister Simile are also dedicated to being by his side fighting with him.

“Some days it’s a 1 on the pain level, some days it’s a 10,” Jamie said. “No matter what type of day it is, we are there to help him any way we can and somehow, we always seem to find our way to the golf course, at his request. I can’t say no to that.”

Sebastian was treated at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and was overnight for almost four months straight this past summer. His doctors and care team have informed him that he will have a two-year all-out battle to keep this disease at bay and eventually beat it.

Obviously, a cancer diagnosis comes with an extreme number of stressors that no family could ever prepare for, including medical bills that most aren’t even aware of. While there are many programs out there that help families hit with child illnesses, not all finances get covered. With that said, friends and family set up a GoFundMe where donations can help by making some of the finances easier to bear.

The family is also in the planning stages of hosting a 27-hole tournament fundraiser on Jan. 29, 2024 to help raise funds. Stepping up to help is longtime community philanthropist Craig Johns who, along with his wife Libby, has been involved in many organizations in town for decades. While they proudly helped run their family’s business, Wilson Creek Winery, for years, they worked with many campaigns that targeted Alzheimer’s, ALS research and programs for youth with special needs (Champions Baseball League within TYB, SNAP, Alzheimer’s and ALS Nationally).

“It takes a village, and there are lots of ways to help within the community you live in,” said Johns, who has known Sebastian since he was seven years old. “I have been blessed with being able to mentor him with life skills and lessons about balance and being a student athlete and competitor. When Jamie asked me to help with a golf tournament, I didn’t even think twice. I immediately said yes, got off the phone and started making phone calls.”

Johns began sending texts and emails and within hours gathered 76 golfers. The goal is to get 200 golfers out to Temecula Creek Inn Golf Club on Monday, Jan. 29. The course is offering a significant discount in order for most of the funds generated to go directly to helping support Sebastian and his family.

A 27-hole scramble tournament is being held in January of 2024 to help raise funds for the Glenn family as Sebastian’s medical bills continue to build up while he battles cancer. Valley News/Courtesy photo

“Please round up a foursome and play in this fun community event while raising much-needed funds for a desperate family in our village,” Johns said.

Foursomes are the most ideal sign up according to Johns, who also is promoting the sponsorship of a hole with a tee sign at only $125 per company or family who want to put their name and/or logo on it. Once at the event, there will be many other ways to help, including buying gift baskets, auction items, raffle tickets and a golfer package for the day.

“You can even sponsor a golfer or a foursome,” Johns added.

Though he will be recovering from his additional pancreatitis diagnosis, and not able to play in the event, Sebastian will be in attendance and will get out to shake hands and sign autographs with his many supporters on the day of the event.

Sign up a foursome online by going to golfgenius.com. Contributors can also donate cash to the GoFundMe site on the registration page. For more information contact Craig Johns, event director, at Craignjohns@gmail.com.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.