2018 was very good to Australian native Grace Kim on the course. After claiming a gold medal at the Youth Olympics this past October in Buenos Aires, she entered the week at the inaugural ANNIKA Invitational Australasia ready to play. Kim trailed the Philippines Yuka Saso heading into the second round but was not shaken. In fact, she proved quite the opposite when she carded an ANNIKA Invitational record and personal-best round of 10-under-par 62. Entering the final round with a generous lead, Kim kept her ground and claimed the title.
We spoke to Grace a few weeks after her win in New Zealand. Here’s what the just-turned 18-year-old had to say about her golf career so far and life off the course.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Healing so I can help people heal from any injuries.
What is your biggest fear?
Darkness and horror.
Who is your favorite golfer?
Annika has been added to my list and it’s because she has experienced a lot of world-class golf which means she knows what needs to be done. She is very easy to talk to and her golfing career is definitely something to look up to, as well as her as a person.
What is your favorite movie?
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Seven years ago I traveled from Australia, where I live, to Seoul to meet the rest of my extended family. I got to meet my grandparents and cousins and I am super excited to visit them next year!
How do you spend your free time outside of golf?
Spending time with my family and friends, going to the gym, listening to music on my phone.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
My parents as they have been selfless and provided every chance for me to get better. I respect them so much and I want to be like them when I grow up -- to put others first and to help out those in need much more than us.
What is your greatest memory of playing golf so far?
Shooting my personal-best of 10-under-par WITH the legend, Annika, watching me on the last hole and giving me a hug and saying “great round” as I walked off 18.
How/Why did you start playing golf?
Just gave it a go; one day, I followed dad after school. But I was bored just sitting down watching him hit golf balls. The next day, my dad got me a set.
What was your favorite golf tournament you have played in so far?
I still cannot get over how good the ANNIKA Invitational Australasia was set up for us. It was at an awesome golf course. The volunteers made it so much easier for us, we had fans there and watching us online, the clinics and seminars that were provided for us were good; it was just awesome. Plus, although Wellington is known to be called “Windy Wellington,” I think we were lucky that week and it helped me play so well.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring female golfers who are just starting to play the game?
To imagine what/who you want to be like, and then come back to reality to see how much hard work and effort needs to be accomplished to become successful. And to always remember that literally EVERYTHING happens for a reason. You’ll look back one day and remember the hard times only to realize why it happened and to be thankful for it. What’s yours will find you, so be super patient.
What are your favorite emojis?
Heart and laughter with tears face.
Congratulations on winning the inaugural ANNIKA Invitational Australasia. Tell me about how you felt leading up to the final holes. How did you stay calm and focused?
Thank you! It was a tiny bit frustrating as I missed a couple of good birdie opportunities on the back nine, but I still remained in the present like from the ninth hold onward. I think that my key. Knowing that dragging on about a shot two holes ago will not do good for my upcoming shots and holes, my mind was thinking about my next shot. I definitely believe that my routine was very sharp after Annika mentioned how important routine is, which helped me to stay present and to not think about being nervous on the last couple of holes.
Do you have a New Year’s resolution? If so, what is it?
- Read books (doesn’t matter how many, just complete a book)
- Note down something I was grateful for each day and pop it in a jar to be opened at the end of the year for reflection
- Pilates or yoga class at least once a month
What do you think golf has taught you outside of the actual skills to play the game?
It has taught me to become very patient. I’m not a very patient person and golf is a long game which means being patient is crucial. Golf has also taught me to be self-aware and accept myself for who I am and what I am capable of. Different people have different flaws, talents, strengths and weaknesses, attitudes, values and motives -- that’s just how they are, and I’ve gradually had to learn that we need to love ourselves for who we are because I think trying to be someone else is a waste of being someone like you.
Aside from winning, what was your favorite part about the ANNIKA Invitational Australasia?
The clinic full stop. I ABSOLUTELY loved the clinic that Annika held for us young female golfers. I have never attended a clinic before and just being able to hear what she has to say for us to improve, how to develop and what to do to become successful like her, it was just amazing. I’ve noted down all her points and I will definitely read it every practice session, just what she said really applied to all of us and is something I really want to improve on. And lastly, being able to hit shots with her… BEST EXPERIENCE EVER. I had so much fun and I don’t know if my next clinic with any other pro will be better than Annika’s.
With the year ending like it did, 2018 may be hard to beat. Along with her New Year’s resolutions, Kim plans on working out more to get physically stronger and wants to experience more professional events as well as compete in top amateur tournaments overseas. Most importantly, she says “I want to be grateful and thankful for every single thing that I have.” Kim, who was the 2018 Australia Golf of Merit winner, had eight top-10 finishes last year. We look forward to watching her continued success throughout her golf career.