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[Opinion] First Korean LPGA Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak

Posted November. 15, 2007 03:58,   

한국어

“Nature versus nurture” has been one of the dominant themes the human race has heatedly discussed throughout history. South Korean pro golfer Se Ri Pak represents one of the most harmonious combinations of the two. Her father Pak Jun-cheol noticed the genius in her and trained her rigidly. That hard training made Se Ri Pak’s success today. In the late 1980s, Pak emigrated to Hawaii and taught his elementary school daughter how to grip a golf club. The elementary school student reportedly showed wonderful promise to his delight and surprise.

But the Spartan-style training would not have succeeded if Pak had not readily embraced it. One winter day in her middle school, Se Ri went to a driving range with her father. Her father met his friends and went out for a drink. He forgot about his daughter on the range. Waking up at 4 a.m. with that realization, he hurried back to the range, and found his daughter practicing. When asked by avid parents who wish to make their children another Pak, Se Ri advises that what really matters is not what the parents want, but what the children want to do.

Se Ri started golfing in earnest when she entered middle school. She won the national championship in her high school days and went straight into the pro league. Now, Pak has become a Hall of Famer. She is the youngest player who has ever earned the honor. We are really proud of her. When I interviewed her father, I asked, “When do you think your daughter is ready for marriage?” Mr. Pak replied, “We’ve cut a deal. She promised to get married only after she becomes a Hall of Famer.”

To become an excellent golfer, you have to be able to maintain your calmness. Lots of American golfers consult mind control experts. Tense emotions contract muscles, which in turn hinder smooth and sharp shots. When she was suffering for two years from a slump, I thought she might need some companionship or a husband to maintain her calmness. Now, as promised, Pak has become a Hall of Famer. I am wondering whether Pak’s father, her first coach and most admired male figure, is ready to let her tie the knot.

Hwang Ho-taek, Senior Editorial Writer, hthwang@donga.com