Men's Golfer Adjusts to College Life

Men's Golfer Adjusts to College Life

April 21, 2004

By Robyn Hanson
Media Relations Student Assistant

After finishing this year's season, freshman, Jong Yoon, is already looking toward next year with hopes of improving his game as well as boosting the intensity of his teammates. Making a huge impact on the Santa Clara University men's golf team in just one season, this passionate athlete has planned an intense summer tournament schedule helping him continue down his road of success.

Yoon began golfing at the young age of four. His Dad is responsible for introducing him to the sport and has helped support his passion ever since.

"My Dad realizes that my dream is to play on the PGA Tour, so he'll do whatever he can to help me with that." Being from nearby San Ramon, Yoon's parents are able to make it to most of the tournaments.

"Without my parents I would not have gotten all the lessons, school and support I needed to improve."

Golf was not Yoon's main sport growing up; he had a passion for baseball, commanding the field as a pitcher. With the swings differing so greatly between the two sports, one would think it difficult to master the both. "I was horrible at hitting," Yoon truthfully admitted, understanding this fundamental difference.

The transition from high school to college has been a natural one. Yoon's teammates helped him meet new people and understand the ins and outs of Santa Clara.

"I thought college was going to be this whole new environment that I wasn't aware of, but I got used to it pretty quick; nothing really new."

Yoon's decision for coming to the mission campus was primarily based on golf. He explained how Coach John Kennaday was the only coach that really cared. Through this coach/athlete relationship, Kennaday has become a mentor to Yoon.

"He has made a pretty big influence on me so far. He's been giving me advice I've never received on the golf course as far as thinking and how to control my emotions."

Yoon made an extreme sacrifice a few years ago, leaving high school his senior year to attend the Pendleton School at the Ledbetter Academy, a sports academy in Florida. This private school adjusted its class times, giving talented athletes a block of four hours a day to practice.

"The Academy definitely helped prepare me for college. I'm glad I made the decision to go. It was tough missing out on a lot with my friends, but it was a sacrifice I wanted to make to help me in the long run."

Yoon feels that the biggest difference between high school and college golf is the competition level. Explaining that "in high school there were a few guys that were pretty good and remained competitive, but with college, everyone is basically on the same level. It's much more competitive and the courses are much harder."

Studying is a difficult concept for most college students to grasp. Adding morning workouts and an intense practice schedule does not make it any easier. Yoon explained that his dorm is actually quiet with mainly returning sophomores, ultimately making him feel like he has to study.

"Coming back from practice, I'm exhausted and it is hard to concentrate. I try to do work on the road and I always bring my books but it's difficult when you are so tired."

When he's not golfing, Yoon enjoys hanging out with friends, fishing, and relaxing. He has a thing for nice clothing, as he likes to look good on the golf course.

Laughing, Yoon said, "I want to say I like to collect something but I really don't."

With a positive outlook for next season, Yoon would like to see big improvements, explaining the Broncos have the elements to be a good team, but need to learn how to put it together on the golf course. Not satisfied with his season, Yoon wants to see a few wins for him next year as well as to break the even-par scoring average. This summer he will be playing locally in Northern California, competing to qualify for the U.S. Amateur he qualified for last year, as well as attending other bit national qualifiers.

Yoon's future remains bright, studying in the business school and toying with the idea of majoring in management. With hopes of playing on the PGA Tour, he continues to work hard on the golf course. For now, Yoon is enjoying college life, meeting people and experiencing new things.