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A Rise to the Top

Updated: Feb 14

Jin-Young at the top of her game?

Getting there was no small feat. At the top, Jin Young Ko took home the Rookie of the Year (2018), Player of the Year (2019), Vare Trophy (2019), Annika Major Award (2019) respectively.

So, how did she get there? What did her rise to fame look like? As you can imagine the rise to golf success isn’t always a straight line and Jin’s rise is just that, a rise of by taking an unusual path. Her atypical rise started for her as a child. While most professional golf players can recall spending their youth on the golf course with a parent, grandparent or relative, learning and growing in the game of golf, Jin could not.

In fact, her childhood years were pretty ordinary. Her father and grandparents were not involved in golf and could not provide her with any direct guidance on the game. Her mother played golf as an adult but would not take Jin to the golf course. In her grade school years (under the age of 13) her interest came from a replay of a televised golf game “I watched a replay of Se Ri Pak winning the U.S. Women’s Open and she said, “I think I would like to try that.” Her father decided to take Jin to the golf course and the spark was lit. Jin spent that entire day with her father hitting her first golf shots. Her father was a boxer in his younger days and while he could provide Jin with golf tips he gave her one of the most important gifts to keep her mentally tough by telling her “No matter what you do, stamina is the key to success.” Together they would jump rope for long periods of time. Jin was trained like a fighter who would train for a title bout.

The path to becoming a pro usually consist of four levels. In an unconventional manner Jin passed through these levels to pursue her dream of one day becoming a pro. What is unconventional for Jin is how she scribed to the different levels. Although it is not very clear or written in great detail, it appears the Jin’s beginning golf games took place locally in and around South Korea (mini tours and State Opens). This is the real proving grounds for future golf professionals in South Korea. There’s no money at this level but the competition is excellent. If you can prove your worth here, you have an excellent chance of making to the next level and eventually the pro’s.

Next is the Early Developmental Tours which is essentially a taste of the Pro Tour. While in the level one games, one can enter a golf competition by signing up and paying a stated fee, in the early developmental tours, entry is status, which, require players to qualify for their spot on the tour. The most common way to qualify for a tour is to go through a nerve-racking experience known as Q-school (Qualifying school). For the level 2 tours (Canadian, Latin American, China) there is a 4-day, 72-hole tournament where the top contenders earn a spot on the tour often referred to as “getting their card”.

Usually, the next stop prior to the pro’s is to play in the Penultimate Tours. This is not yet the “big stage” but it is the most renowned tour at this level and is called The tour. Here the winner checks are in the six figures and the winner’s score is well into the double digits (under par that is). The main way to get here is through the infamous Q-school. This is a 4-stage Qualifier of 72-hole tournaments at each stage. You heard that correctly; 288 holes to prove your worth if you make it through to the Final Stage. Q-school is not for the weary and will cost you $5,000 regardless of your success through this marathon.

It appears that Jin leapfrogged the Penultimate Tours. Jin turned pro in late 2013 and played on the developmental Jump Tour the rest of that year. She did brilliantly there, collecting three wins and nine top ten. She finished 4th at KLPGA Q-School to qualify for the KLPGA tour in 2014. Having established her skills so brilliantly at this early level, Jin was catapulted to the Pro circuit. The LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) of Korea Tour is a South Korean professional golf tour for women. LPGA of Korea runs this tour, not the American LPGA. It is one of the world's five leading women's golf tours.

Unlike the other women's golf tours, which are open to all nationalities, the KLPGA is limited to Korean nationals, with the exception of the co-sanctioned events.

Rising to the top of your game is steady and sometimes unusual but it always results in success when you follow your own path. A path that may be unconventional but can lead to great achievements.

Way to go Jin! We are looking forward too many more great seasons of golf from you!

#golf #golfer #womensgolf #LPGA #achievements #golftours

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