Go and find the world you want, Pern and John Ginella of Santa Rosa told their five kids. It's your life. You define it. You own it. You live it. Think outside the box? Heck, just get rid of the box altogether. Follow what makes sense to you, not to someone else. Mom and Dad didn't have to say it twice to Matt, their youngest.
"I love stories," said Ginella, co-host of a five-day-a-week morning television show on the Golf Channel, "and wouldn't it be something that the greatest story you've ever heard was the one about your life?"
It's as if Ginella, 41, is finding himself in the middle of his own movie, in the lead role, looking at himself in the mirror, blinking over and over in disbelief. Yes, that's me all right, he thinks to himself, the kid who graduated from Cardinal Newman in 1990, the kid who once thought the ultimate description of happiness would be working as the course superintendent at Oakmont. And the allure at the core of that image, lo these many years, drives Ginella still to this day.
"To see a sunrise over a golf course," Ginella said, "that's like church to me. It's peaceful. It's like . . . waking up in my own bed."
Ginella worked five summers at Oakmont, in the pro shop, raking grass and taking out garbage. Three of those summers came while he was at Newman, and two while at St. Mary's College before he graduated in 2005 with a degree in communications. Ginella liked the smell, the visual, the feel of it and he could have been happy staying there, very well could have stayed there, never gotten out of bed so to speak .<TH>.<TH>. if it wasn't for his voice, the one he found at the age of 10.
Starting at 10, and for four summers, Ginella at night would broadcast imaginary baseball games into a tape recorder. He'd make up everything; lineups, scoring, pitching changes, drama, weather, all of it. Even describing those flying hot dog wrappers so endemic to summertime Candlestick. The mock broadcasts always would be of a Giants-Padres game.
"And the Padres would always win," Ginella said. The next morning his dad would take the cassette tape with him and listen to it in the car on his way to work in San Francisco.
And, boom, therein was the perfect Ginella marriage. His voice describing his church and the people in it.
"All I ever wanted to do," he said, "was broadcast golf."
How Ginella arrived at this point in his life — he's been on-the-air at Golf Channel only since January — frankly is of more fascination than the past seven months of his life. His journey to Golf Channel has not been on a straight line. Rather, his journey looks more like one of those lines on a seismograph after an earthquake. About an 11.5 on the You Got To Be Kidding Me scale.
The most logical path to being a television golf celebrity is NOT carrying camera equipment along the sidelines for Sports Illustrated during the 49ers' last Super Bowl victory (1994). Doors will NOT open at the Golf Channel after a senior thesis at St. Mary's on how ESPN determines its editorial criteria. Mowing greens at Oakmont after college is NOT fast-tracking to fame and fortune. It's NOT a confidence-builder when small school St. Mary's — not The Golf Channel — refuses to hire you as director of communications.