“Korean women’s golf is not as good as it used to be.”
This is a voice of concern among golf fans in Korea after the Korean national team was eliminated from the group stage with a record of 2 wins and 4 losses at the Hanwha Life Plus International Crown, a national competition that recently ended in the United States.
However, domestic and foreign golf experts analyze that this was already predicted. They point out three main things.
The first is that motivation is not what it used to be. As the domestic tour grows, the players are not willing to move to overseas stages where the language is not fluent, the food is not suitable, and the tour expenses are high. Most of the players and their parents think that they can earn enough money and enjoy popularity in Korea. Even Lee Jung-min, who ranked 84th in prize money last year, exceeded the annual prize money of 100 million won, and it is easy to guess why.
Masaki Tachikawa, a golf journalist who occasionally visits from Japan to cover Korean tournaments, also cites the lack of a ‘hungry spirit’ as the main reason for the weakening competitiveness of Korean female players. As in the past, the number of heavily armed players with a sense of responsibility and mission to raise their families is decreasing, and players in their late teens and early 20s, who have already started playing golf in an affluent environment, signed a sponsorship contract with a company for 200 to 300 million won or more. If you earn an annual prize money, the hungry spirit becomes a very old-fashioned old saying.
Second, some point out the collapse of junior golf. At the end of 2016, Korea was very noisy due to the so-called ‘Jeong Yoo-ra incident’. Her admission was canceled when it became known that Jeong Yu-ra, the daughter of Choi Seo-won (Choi Soon-sil), was illegally admitted to Ewha Womans University as an equestrian and received various preferential treatment while she was in school. As a result, the voice that the special education system should be improved was the main voice, and eventually, in April 2017, the Ministry of Education announced the ‘measures to improve the special education system to guarantee the right to study’ to the effect that sports and academics should be combined from elementary school to university. come to announcing
In simple terms, this system means that even those with special talents in sports cannot graduate if they do not keep a certain number of class days for the reason of participating in competitions. As a result, the number of sports experts has decreased, and in particular, the number of players in golf events held on weekdays has decreased noticeably. The number of junior (middle and high school) golf players nationwide in 2012 decreased by about 34% from 2156 to 1423 in 2022. Some people simply associate this phenomenon with a decrease in the birth rate, but if you look at the number of junior golfers who go on to broadcast correspondence high schools, you can quickly see that this is absurd. Looking at the number of golf players who went to Bangtong High School, there were only 37 in 2012, but the number increased to 59 in 2017, 173 in 2020, and 249 in 2022.
In the end, the problem is that no environment has been created for talented players from the junior level to grow and advance into the world.
As the last cause, many point out the obstinacy of the Korea Women’s Professional Golf Tour (KLPGT). If you look at a report from a local media a while ago, you can clearly see why. The media reporter asked a reporter from China during the tournament, ‘What is the reason why Chinese players are doing well recently?
In the meantime, when the LPGA tour was held overseas, there were special rules allowing some players from the host country to participate, so I was able to experience the world-class tour in advance. In the past, there were many cases of winning LPGA tour tournaments held in Korea and advancing overseas. From Ahn Shi-hyeon to Lee Ji-young, Hong Jin-joo, Baek Gyu-gyu, and Ko Jin-young, everyone followed this route and entered the overseas stage.
But I can’t see it like that anymore. This is because domestic players cannot participate in the BMW Ladies Championship, an LPGA Tour event held in Korea in October. The KLPGT is holding domestic competitions during the same period and is holding back, threatening to impose fines on players participating in the BMW Ladies Championship. It was the same last year and it is the same this year.
The KLPGT’s oppressive regulations had already been pointed out once during a parliamentary audit held last year. After that, through the administrative inspection of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in March, it was recommended to ‘improve the part that allows current players to participate in overseas tours only three times a year’.
At the time, an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said, “A player will want to play on a bigger stage, but limiting this to three times a year is a matter related to the interests of the player.” Banning members from participating in LPGA Tour events is also an issue that needs to be reviewed in terms of players’ rights and interests,” he explained the background.먹튀검증
As a result, KLPGT removed the limit on the number of overseas tours. However, the KLPGA Tour major competitions must be played first, and if an overseas tour is held in Korea, it is conditional that ‘separate official regulations’ must be followed.
JTBC Golf sent an official letter to hear the association’s position in this regard in March, but so far it has remained silent.
In particular, regarding the restriction on participation of domestic players in the BMW Ladies Championship, the schedule was announced before the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recommended measures, so it seems that there is no major problem. This year, the opening of Sangsangin and Korea Economy TV will be held that week.
Pointing out these three things as the main reasons for the weakening of the international competitiveness of domestic female players is because there is one important fact that penetrates all of them. It is that the number of Korean players who will play an active role on the world stage is getting weaker.
Since there are not many junior players, the number of professional players has decreased compared to before, and even after becoming professional, the association has stepped up to block opportunities to participate in overseas competitions, and as more professional players are living a life that is satisfied with the current tour like frogs in a well, they eventually took the first place in Thailand. The reality is that we are giving it to Chinese and Japanese players.
If we expect that the day will come when Korean women’s golf dominates the world stage again and shows the appearance of the strongest country, we will have to look at these fundamental system problems one by one from now on.