NY Choi a Golf Champion, Friend, Mentor, and Life Champion
During last year’s Hugel-Air Premia Los Angeles Open at Wilshire Country Club, I had an interesting behind-the-scenes moment that I wish to share with our readers. I had the privilege of spending some time discussing golf with 5-time LPGA Tour winner and former United States Open Champion Na Yeon Choi (NY Choi). She is a very talented and personable young lady who generously offered her time and experience to me and others.
A short time before our interview, I had the opportunity to observe something I believe is more important than championships and accolades. I was able to get a glimpse of the heart, soul, and character of a very accomplished athlete and nice person! Long after the others had missed the cut or finished their rounds and packed up to go home or the next event, I was enjoying the view from the clubhouse porch, and I noticed a few golf bags and players gathered down on the driving range.
I enjoy watching great players work on their games, and I like to see what goes on behind the scenes at the events, so I made my way some 250 yards down to the range. There I found the great NY Choi hitting some middle irons while three other players were sitting on their bags, hanging out and watching her practice. They were listening to her insights on the game and her advice on the golf swing and playing. They listened intently while she talked about guidance from her swing coach and how to benefit from productive practice.
It was very interesting to see an accomplished and successful player at work and witness her desire to recover from a career-threatening back injury, determined to return in top form. At the same time, seeing her give back to the game was intriguing, sharing her thoughts with the younger and less experienced players and enjoying the moment of friendship with the other competitors.
Shortly after she finished her practice, which was a pleasure to watch, NY Choi spent a little time swinging a vintage 1878 Long Nose play club from Carnoustie, Scotland and talked about her respect for the game and its traditions. She then kindly offered important advice for our PGA Junior girls and boys about the keys to being successful at golf or whatever they choose to do.
- “If you have a dream, and believe in yourself, you can achieve it.”
- “You must be prepared for the event and the round. Good preparation creates confidence.”
- “You must work hard, but it is the only way to reach that goal!”
And overall, she emphasized, “Always think positive and you will do your best!”
Despite the intense competition and the desire to win, this story is as much about the comradery, support, and friendships that are present in the LPGA as it is about talent, work ethic, drive, and commitment.
This is an interesting dynamic that most golf fans don’t get to see, but I feel is one of the most fascinating aspects of professional golf, and it has a strong presence on the LPGA Tour.
We should all admire how N. Y. Choi carries herself with the character of a champion. While she was taking care of business and putting the work in, she was also helping others.
What occurs behind the scenes often tells the real story. And the story here is…NY Choi is a champion on and off the golf course! These are things she will be remembered for long after her playing career is over. Championships, accolades, and earnings may define you as a competitor, athlete, or performer, but how you carry yourself off the field is what defines a real champion. I wish to make our Juniors aware of these things, and share the respect I have for Na Yeon Choi. I believe her skill, talent, and strength of character are a great example for our junior girls and what make her a Champion on the LPGA Tour and in life!