Derek Kim drives his way to the top
Starting at an early age, Derek Kim has pursued golf, participating in competitions all around the United States—while at the same time maintaining a rigorous course load. He sat down with The Howler to discuss his golf experiences and the impact of the sport on his life.
Ansh Talim and Armin Abaye: How did you first get into golf?
Derek Kim: My dad kind of pressured me into starting because he thought it would get me into a good college, but then I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.
AT and AA: Is there any person (coaches, role models, etc.) who got you to the point where you are in your golf career so far?
DK: I guess you could say I’m self taught, because I’ve never had a serious golf coach. Golf was always a very quiet thing I worked hard at by myself. In terms of role models however, I admired the hell out of Tiger Woods growing up. Scandals aside, the man dominated the sport like none other. He broke records, scared off competitors and never looked back.
AT and AA: Do you plan on pursuing golf in the future?
DK: Golf has been huge for my college search, so I definitely have plans to play collegiate golf. Whether or not I try to pursue professional golf depends on how I feel about my abilities after college.
AT and AA: What has been your most memorable experience with golf?
DK: My best experience with golf was probably when I was just starting. Back then, I was very carefree, and I think my golf swing reflected that. I swung hard and didn’t care where the ball ended up. It was a way to relieve stress. Now, it kind of contributes to my stress.
AT and AA: What’s the most difficult aspect of golfing?
DK: The most difficult part about golf is the mental aspect. In golf, so many things that are out of your control can go horribly wrong, so it’s absolutely imperative that you keep your cool and roll with the punches. It’s so easy to lose your focus or your patience, and it can be unbelievably frustrating.
AT and AA: Are there any notable achievements that you have?
DK: Last year, I qualified for an international tournament held in San Diego. I placed 34th out of 215 people, but it was probably the most competitive field that I’ve ever played in. I met a guy from Australia who went on to win the US Junior Amateur Championship that year and is currently playing professional golf in Australia. It was cool to test my abilities against the best in the world.
AT and AA: Are there any obstacles you faced throughout your golf career?
DK: The biggest thing for me has been the pressure I’ve gotten from my dad. At times, he can be a little overdramatic and the expectations he has for me are always unattainable, but I think it’s made me the golfer and person I am today. It’s really difficult to play golf under pressure because you always have to be 100 percent confident in your ability and any kind of nervousness or pressure will shatter your concentration.
AT and AA: In what ways has golf changed/shaped you as a person?
DK: Golf has definitely made me more patient. I’ve learned that sometimes there are things that are just out of your control. It’s a sad thing to realize, but I think it has really helped me.
AT and AA: So then do you have any advice for those who might want to join golf in the future?
DK: Only do it if you have the time. Getting good at golf is a painfully long and intense process, and it is not worth it if you don’t put in the work. Be patient. Be optimistic. Take it seriously, but have fun.