May 3, 2019
Faces of the NCGA–Christina Kim
For Christina Kim, the annual LPGA Tour MEDIHEAL Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club is a chance to compete in basically her own backyard.
While the now 35-year-old San Jose native is a three-time winner on the LPGA, Kim may be more known for her outgoing style and fun-loving attitude.
Interview by Gary McCormick
Q: How special is it for you, as a Bay Area native, for there to be an LPGA event here again?
CK: I grew up playing golf here, and I have a lot of really special memories here at Lake Merced – I qualified for my first U.S. Open through this golf course. I think it’s hugely important for women’s professional golf to be played here in the Bay Area and Northern California in general. They host the Symetra Tour in Windsor, up near Santa Rosa, so I think it’s great that they can see professional golf of all levels, and just keep the dream alive of women’s professional golf – of women entering the golf world. We’ve got incredible women like Juli Inkster, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis We’ve had some amazing golfers come through. There’s a lot of really, really good golfers coming from the Bay Area. There’s so much incredible golf in general here that hopefully, it’s something that will stick around for many, many years to come.
Q: The U.S. Open is coming back to the Bay Area, to the Olympic Club, in a couple of years. How big a deal is that for you; do you really look forward to being able to play in that?
CK: Absolutely. To be able to play in your nation’s championship, and for it to be hosted in your backyard—we were lucky to have had it at CordeValle several years ago, and in ’03 it was originally pegged to be played here at Lake Merced, but there were some logistical challenges that few came across that forced us to move to Portland, Oregon for that year. For it to come back, 1) to the Bay Area, and 2) to such a historic and iconic golf course as the Olympic Club really is making people realize just how important women’s professional golf is, and women in golf, and the game of golf itself. I think that it’s fantastic. We’ve got some incredible golf courses that we have played our U.S. Women’s Open at the last few years, and we have several more amazing ones lined up. I think that hopefully, it will get to the point that we stop thinking of women’s golf, we just think of it as golf that women play, as opposed to thinking of it as men vs women.
Q: What is one real important thing that you think could be done, right now, to raise the profile of women’s golf, and get more women and girls involved in the game?
CK: I think that what the LPGA is doing right now with our “Drive On” campaign has been pretty significant, just getting people to understand that there’s more to golf than just hitting a golf ball. Right or wrong, good or bad, women always have to live in a world of double standards, we always have to live in a world where people feel like women have more to prove just because of the way that society has been for thousands of years. Getting people to understand that, yes, we play golf, and yes, we kick butt at golf, but there is so much more to this story.
You can take a girl and put her into a situation where she encounters golf, and she sees these amazing stories of players through the “Drive On” campaign, where they say, you know, “I love deep-sea fishing”, and Brittany Lincicome loves deep-sea fishing, and she’s won two majors, she’s won a huge number of events, she’s also going to be a mother. All of these things, where all of a sudden you can relate to people, outside of just the fact that they play golf – “Oh, that’s something that I’m really passionate about, that’s something that she’s passionate about and she plays golf, I wonder if that means that I could be involved in golf.”
We’re really, out here on the LPGA, trying to set up the next generation of golfers. Every day we try and think of the Founders, who gave up everything, and legitimately did everything, and have over the years given us what we have today, and hopefully we’ll be able to do something where 50 years, 60 years down the line they’ll be able to say that the women of the late 2010s did so much for us. Whatever it may be, maybe we have equal wages to the guys, equal purses—maybe our purses will be bigger, who knows? Anything can happen. I think just getting people involved, and realizing that, “Yes we play golf, but there’s so much more to us than that,” I think is really important and key.