We’ve all been there. On one side or the other of a teenager-parent relationship. Both individuals are all knowing, either through experience or blind ambition.
For 19-year-old Yaeeun Hong (Seoul, Republic of Korea), a second-year Epson Tour rookie, and her father Taesik, the last couple years have been a different challenge: adjusting to life on a professional golf circuit in a foreign country. But at No. 15 in the Race for the Card and just $11,632 outside the top 10, they’ve forged a path through a now-harmonious walk that wasn’t always that way.
“Starting out the season, we fought a lot. He was screaming at me. I was screaming at him,” Hong said laughingly about their player-caddie struggles. “He just kept asking, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m just trying to be good, but it’s hard.
“And my dad said, ‘I don’t know what you’re trying to do,’” she added with a chuckle. “I was like, ‘Ok, I’ll try harder. Let’s just have fun.’ Then we had good conversations and talked a lot. I try to be calm and we are [on the same page] understanding our goals.”
Taesik went to college in the United States and had visions of turning pro, but family priorities had other plans and he went into business. After introducing his daughter to the game and seeing her potential, it became his mission to give Yaeeun the opportunity he was never provided.
In 2019, Hong won the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship. The victory provided an exemption into the ISPS Handa Vic Open and ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open that same year. It was a sample of the biggest stage in women’s golf and Hong couldn’t get enough.
“I like to compete and just want to win,” said Hong, a seven-time medalist during her amateur career. “I like the feeling of winning.”
Now on the cusp of LPGA Tour membership, Yaeeun and Taesik are on the same page as they prepare for the Epson Tour Championship at LPGA International. With her dad on the bag, Hong has outlined a set of objectives to reach her hopeful destination of the Race for the Card Top 10.
“My goal is to play every day in 3-under. It’s my own goal for 18 holes. I want to make that,” said Hong. “Everybody has a chance on the [Jones] course, so I want to eliminate mistakes.
“I still have a chance for the top 10. I’m proud of that.”