Ask a Legend, Korean Golf at a Crossroads

August 15, 2023 | by

Korean golf is at an inflection point. The once dominant Korean women’s game is under threat from a plethora of global rivals, while the men’s game is gaining traction in the United States. What’s next for Korean golf?

As of July 18, there are only two South Koreans in the top 20 of the women’s golf world rankings, Ko Jin-young and Kim Hyo-joo. Jeon In-ji, who won last year’s major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, has fallen out of the top 20. There was a time when the top 10 was half Korean. Ko Jin-young, Kim Hyo-joo, Park In-bee, and Kim Se-young were among the top-ranked players in the world. Korean golf fans focused on the weekly rankings. Recently, however, the focus has been on Ko Jin-young, who broke the record for the longest reign as world No. 1. 스포츠토토

The United States has the most representation in the top 20 of women”s golf with three players. After South Korea, Australia, Japan, China, and Great Britain each have two players in the top 20. Players from the United States, Japan, Thailand, and China are making their mark on the world stage. Gone are the days when South Korea dominated women’s golf.

The women’s golf crisis has been talked about before. It’s no longer the case that South Korean players are dominating the sport. As of 2022, South Korean players have combined for just four wins on the U.S. Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour. It’s not all about the drought. The streak of five consecutive Rookie of the Year titles, which began with Kim Se-young in 2015 and ended with Lee Jeong in 2019, has already been handed to Thailand for the second straight year.

If Ko hadn’t stayed on top, if “golf prodigy” Kim Hyo-ju hadn’t regained her form in 2020 and won every year on the LPGA Tour since 2021, there might not have been a South Korean player in the top 10. The “women’s golf crisis” narrative grew louder after South Korea suffered a bitter qualifying defeat at the national event, the Hanwha LifePlus International Crown, in May.

The United States, Thailand, and China are the opposite of Korea. The U.S. has a rosy future, with favorites like Nelly Coda and Lexi Thompson and a host of talented young players like Allison Ko, Lilia Boo, and Rose Chang emerging to take the game to the next level. Thailand and China are empowering young players to follow in the footsteps of the Jutanukarn sisters and Feng Shanshan.

South Korea is lagging behind. Talented female athletes are reluctant to go abroad. Male athletes are eager to compete on the big international stage, but their lack of popularity makes it difficult for them to get sponsorship.


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