I got the chance to speak with Christina Kim recently. The best selling author, Solheim Cup Firebrand, Trendsetting LPGA Tour Golfer tells all about life on tour, her favorite music and what makes her tick.
Leave the Pin In-What was your first event ever as a pro?
Christina Kim-My first event played as a professional was the 2002 on the Futures Tour, now known as the Symetra Tour. It was in Florida, and that year the tour’s opening event took place the week of my 18th birthday. I turned pro on that Wednesday in the middle of the round with my dad, when I realized I was 18 and thus legally able at that time to turn professional.
The round itself is a bit hazy, but I do remember telling myself that golf is still golf, and that the only difference between where I was and where I am (at the time) is stiffer competition, tougher courses and the chance to make money doing something that i determined was going to be my life’s passion. I feel like some people try to make turning professional something extra. The reality is that golf is still golf, the course doesn’t care if you’re an aspiring amateur or professional at the highest level. The course doesn’t give you anything you don’t earn. Also, it was pretty damned cool that my opening round as a professional was a 3 under 69!
LTPI-Would you rather win a major or captain a winning Solheim Cup team?
CK-I think at this stage of my career I would prefer to win a major championship. I am still in a position in my career that I am still able to win, and captaining a win gin Solheim Cup team would be incredible, but i would not likely be selected as a captain if I don’t have enough wins under my belt. So maybe if I do the first, the second may become closer to becoming a reality.
LTPI-What is the most you’ve ever seen gambled on a golf course before?
CK-I personally don’t gamble on the golf course, nor do I really get the opportunity to be with people that do... maybe $100 a hole?
LTPI-First item you splurged on as a pro?
CK-My first major purchase was a 2004 Honda Civic hybrid, the first vehicle I purchased for myself. Her name was Vanessa and she was powder blue and beautiful!
LTPI-Best/worst parts of the Tour?
CK-My favorite part of the tour, other than getting the chance to create my own destiny everyday of my life, is getting the chance to encounter new experiences around the globe that I normally wouldn’t be able to. New cities, new food, new golf courses, and new people.
LTPI-Favorite/least fav course you play?
CK-The best course I have been lucky enough to play on this planet is a very exclusive course at the top of the North Island of New Zealand called Tara Iti. Everything about it was perfection. Domestically here in the US would have to be Oakmont. I don’t have a least fav course because I think every course has the chance to be amazing, if you open your eyes and seek it out.
LTPI-Is there anything you collect?
CK-I don’t think there’s anything physically that I go out of my way to collect, as I tend to cherish people and experiences instead.
LTPI-Fav things to do outside of golf during off week/offseason?
CK-My fav things to do off the course is spending time with friends, going out to eat, singing terribly, dancing terribly, and trying anything new!
LTPI-Best family vacation you have ever been on?
CK-When I was seven years old I went to South Korea, where my family comes from, for the first time. I experienced travel, new foods, new cities and it was amazing!!!
LTPI-Best/worst fan interaction you’ve ever had?
CK-I’ve been pretty lucky to have had so many incredible fan interactions! Some of my favorite definitely come from Mexico, where golf is still very young and new as a sport to the public. Elba Villar, a teacher from Mexico City, would visit the tournament every year, and had some amazing Mexican crafts made for me, which I still have at my house to this day!
LTPI-Where can you find the best food on tour?
CK-There are so many incredible places we visit if you are a foodie, but Portland OR and San Francisco stand out to me. There’s so much diversity and people who truly love food out there!
LTPI-Fav players to be paired with?
CK-I usually start my rounds with gratitude that I am able to call this great sport my job, and I try to always stay positive, so I’m just happy to be on the course! That being said, my closest friends like Annie Park, Su Oh, Marina Alex are my absolute favs!
LTPI-What is harder-making a ten footer to win a tournament, or writing a book?
CK-Presently I would say the ten footer is harder. When it came to writing my book, I just had to recall memories and put it down. Making a putt is crafting something out of nothing! Writing on facts and things that have happened in my life was easy!
LTPI-What are you currently listening to?
CK-I have not been listening to a ton of music lately. I have been more interested in podcasts! Not Too Deep by Grace Helbig, Popcorn with Jack Ferry and Mitchell Davis, and Feast Your Ears by SORTED
LTPI-Top 3 Albums of all time
CK-This answer is based on the caveat that these are the three most impactful albums to me in different points in my life.
Shinedown-Sound of Madness
KORN-Follow the Leader
LTPI-Can golf still be fun for tour pros?
CK-Golf had better be fun for tour pros! How can one NOT love the challenges the game presents you with, and you get paid to play and further the game!!!
LTPI-Advice for junior golfers?
CK-Before anything else, enjoy the ride. Secondly, learn to hit all nine shots (high, mid, low trajectory, right, straight, left finishing shots) with every club. Putt more. And find a go-to shot.
LTPI-Biggest topic of conversation on course between players? Do you mind if people try to talk to you between shots?
CK-Topics change from day to day, and depends on the players involved in convos. I talk about everything from boys to makeup to food to travel to clothes to music to news all in a day!
And by all means, I’m happy to talk to anyone. I personally don’t like people shouting at me just so I give them attention, nor do I appreciate when people interrupt or try to insert themselves into conversations I’m having with someone else, but I feel that way regardless of the setting. I myself try to avoid barging into conversations in real life unless invited; it’s just impolite!
LTPI-Do you like to chat on the golf course?
CK-I do enjoy having conversations on the golf course. I love to learn about people and myself. That being said, if I am paired with someone who prefers to stay to themselves, I will not force my conversation on them.
LTPI-How different are tour clubs from clubs bought in a shop from the same manufacturer?
CK-The biggest difference between tour clubs and stock clubs lie in the specs and shafts. On tour we have access to nearly every shaft manufacturer, and so have clubs created to our exact specifications.
LTPI-Are you a tinkerer?
CK-I am eternally inquisitive, so I am always trying to learn more about the game, the swing, the equipment. So yeah, I would say I am a tinkerer.
LTPI-How are your mini golf skills?
CK-I’m about a 28 handicapper when it comes to mini golf! Never played much of it growing up so I’m a bit of a noob at mini golf, ping pong and pool.
LTPI-What is your exercise routine like?
CK-I’m finally getting back into exercise after several seasons of injuries. I’m working on a lot of core, glute and back work, and getting back into running which is very exciting! Hurray for being injury free!
LTPI-One meal left, what is it?
CK-Tough choice. Steak has to be somewhere in there, preferably a Delmonico or tomahawk ribeye. But I would love a caprese salad being a part of it as well... with truffle parm fries, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms.
CK-Creme brûlée, without a question. Come at me if you don’t agree!
LTPI-Do yo have any pets?
CK-I do not. I grew up with fishes, bunnies and cats as a kid, but I really don’t think its fair for the animal for me to be its owner and travel as much as I do. Some people travel with their pets, but I prefer the idea of keeping the animal in its territory and to not have to deal with the stress of travel.
LTPI-One thing people don’t know about you that you wish they did?
CK-Good question..... I would think that one thing about me people don’t really know is that I really care about people and love connecting and relating to people. Human beings are amazing! They never cease to amaze me with their ingenuity and their brilliance! Oh and that I’m just a human being, just like you. Golf is what I do, and I love it more than nearly life itself, but we are all multi-faceted when it comes to interests, passions and desires.
As always, Christina shows why she is such a beloved touring pro. I would like to personally thank her for the time it took to answer all my questions. Catch her out every week on the LPGA Tour.
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