When South Korea’s domestic women’s golf tour held its premier event last week — without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic — no fewer than three of the world’s top 10 players took part.
The country of 52 million people has a disproportionate share of the women’s world golf rankings, providing eight of the current top 20.
In a demonstration of their prominence, Korean women have won at least one major every season since 2010, with coronavirus cancellations perhaps the biggest threat to their run this year.
The phenomenon, players and commentators say, is the result of several factors: driven parents, intense training, a highly competitive society, sponsorship money, and the shining example of 25-time LPGA winner Pak Se-ri.
Of those, one element is critical — the unstinting support and relentless encouragement of parents, who wait for hours while children practice, shuttle them between venues and spend significant sums on coaching.
“All-out parental support” is vital for success, world number six Kim Sei-young, who has 10 LPGA wins and took part in the KLPGA Championship, told AFP.
It parallels the time, resources and pressure many South Korean parents pour into their children’s academic development in the attempt to secure a sought-after place at one of the country’s top universities.