Tiffany Kang has always had golf in her blood, she just didn’t realize it until three years ago.
Kang, who also goes by “Minji,” has picked up the sport at a rapid pace after avoiding the links for the first 12 and a half years of her life.
Now just 16, a sophomore at South Forsyth High School, Kang is a top-notch golfer in the state of Georgia. She’s played in tournaments in the amateur circuits, including the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier, as well as helping lead the Lady War Eagles.
Golf isn’t a sport that can be learned in a day, but Kang surely feels like she came close.
“I really surprised myself,” Kang said of her seemingly natural feel for the sport. “My mother never thought of me playing sports. I guess it just comes to me. I don’t really have to try as much as someone who’s not as skilled.”
Just three years ago, Kang followed her father, Hee Jun Kang, to the golf course for the first time. She said her father, who has worked full-time and part-time as a golf professional, bugged her on numerous occasions to try the sport.
Almost immediately after giving in, she was one of the top golfers in the county.
“He saw potential in me,” Kang said. “The first time I ever did a tournament outside of school, there were all of these girls who’ve been playing ever since they were little babies. I wasn’t far off from them, and that brought me to think maybe I have a chance. I could get a scholarship, or possibly go bigger than that.”
Kang’s happy she tapped into her potential as a student athlete. Auburn and Georgia State are just two schools who have already given her recruiting attention, though she’s aiming much higher.
“For right now I’m thinking big. Maybe Stanford or another great college,” she said.
What was once a surprise to Kang has now been channeled into intense focus.
“It was really a quick transition (learning golf),” she said. “I don’t remember back when I didn’t play golf.”
“She’s persistent. She’s very persistent in the way she goes about her business,” said South coach Ronnie Davis. “It’s a reflection upon her character and integrity. When nobody else is out working she’s out hitting balls, putting, and doing things that will improve her when other people are doing things they want to do that’s a distraction.”
Davis said her focus lacks so much description that it’s difficult to tell when she’s playing well and when she isn’t.
“A lot of times you can’t tell if she’s playing well or not until you ask her and talk to her,” Davis said. “She acts the same whether she is six over and two under par.”
Kang’s lowest score: a 2-under 70.
“After talking and getting to know her, it was a little bit surprising because you don’t hear a lot about players getting good that quick, but once I got to know her, how she practices and goes about her business, her success doesn’t surprise me,” Davis said.
Kang spends at least 18 hours a week on the course: two a day after school, and as much as she can squeeze in on weekends.
“During the weekend I play as much as possible, maybe even morning until the sun goes down,” Kang said. “The goal is to play professionally. I’m thinking big.”