What would you do if you weren’t a professional golfer? Athletes get this question all the time. For August Kim, it’s a stock answer.
“I always joke with people that I’d either be in medical school or in a band,” said Kim. “I play guitar a lot, I have an acoustic/electric guitar and I actually had my dad bring it on tour a couple weeks ago.”
Kim grew up playing the cello and music has always been a passion.
These days, the Symetra Tour rookie only gets the rare opportunity to string music. For starters, she hasn’t seen her bed in Saint Augustine, Florida since June 5. That’s when she got home from the NCAA Championships, threw her stuff in her room and departed for life as a professional golfer. Life as a guitarist will have to wait.
The PHC Classic is her ninth consecutive week of competition. During the span, she has played in six Symetra Tour events, the U.S. Women’s Open and the Meijer LPGA Classic.
Is she tired? Of course.
However, at this point in the season, she’s throwing everything she’s got into trying to move up the money list. In just six starts since joining the Symetra Tour, Kim is already 25th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and within a victory and some top 10’s of an LPGA card.
“I was going to give myself a break after French Lick (Donald Ross Centennial Classic), but I played really well and moved up the money list and thought that I have a shot and why not give it 200 percent,” said Kim, who finished 2nd in French Lick when she lost on the third hole of a playoff. “Of course I’m tired, I feel bad for my family who is with me every step of the way, but so much can happen in one tournament, it’s about who gets hot.”
Suffice it say, Kim wants to play well in Milwaukee and then crash on her bed during the three weeks off coming up.
Golf is a family thing for August, little sister Auston, mom (Piljo) and dad (Chris). Chris got August and Auston started in golf when August was nine and Auston was about five. Auston is now 17 and is headed to play college golf next year at Vanderbilt. She was caddying for big sis during the practice rounds this week at Brown Deer Park.
“I grew up with her playing right next to me all the time,” said August. “Especially after I left for college (Purdue), we got really close. Whenever I am home, we try to practice together and play tournaments whenever we can.”
There are the Jutanugarn’s, the Korda’s, the Pressel’s, the Coleman’s. A grouping number of sisters competing on the Symetra Tour and the LPGA. Of course, August would love to one day compete with her sister on the LPGA.
“We think about it all the time, that’s the goal,” said August. “She still has lots of time until that, but just to see her heading to play college golf is really exciting. It would be a dream.”
The real MVP’s for young golfers are mom’s and dad’s that sacrifice everything. August, and Auston for that matter, understand the sacrifice more than most.
Auston was playing in an amateur tournament two weeks ago in Missouri and August was playing in New York on the Symetra Tour so their parents are consistently going back and forth. This week, August’s mom is here in Milwaukee while her dad went back to Saint Augustine after the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship. He will fly back this weekend to caddy.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this without them,” said Kim. “My dad is working during the weeks and then coming back out to caddy for me on the weekends. My mom takes my sister to practice in the local towns we play while I’m at the course.”
While it might seem like golf consumes Kim, it’s not the case. She’s bright, well-rounded and well-spoken. She was a Biochemistry major at Purdue and has always been into science.
When she’s retrospective and is asked what she has learned during her first two months as a professional, she talks about the mental game.
“It’s all the stuff before I step over the ball, I’ve definitely learned a lot,” said Kim. “Competition is so different out here when you are doing back-to-back-to-back weeks. I definitely think I am a different person than when I first started.”
So far, the defining moment was her three-hole playoff against Erynne Lee.
“I’ve thought a lot about it, especially the last two weeks when I haven’t played well,” said Lee. “I just remember being so calm, I could hear a pin drop. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the moment. Of course I felt pressure, but it felt right and I’m happy about that. I wasn’t afraid to play bad. I had no fear of doing something wrong.”
She was in chase mode instead of running away from playing bad and that’s the mentality she wants to maintain the rest of the season.
She believes her game is tuned up and ready to make sweet music this week at Brown Deer Park.