At BGGA, Kevin Smeltz is preparing assessments and blueprints for BGGA student-athletes starting the 2017-2018 school year. BGGA International Student Liaison Maggie Yuan sat with Smeltz to discuss South Korea’s domination of women’s golf.
We all see how dominating the Korean players are on the LPGA Tour. Since you have taught so many Korean LPGA players, can you explain to us why they are so successful?
Smeltz: I think Korean players’ work ethic is second to none. When I travel to Korea I am constantly surprised at their discipline, drive and will to succeed. As the players have become better and better, the momentum has continued to grow and this has helped produce better and better players.
Do you think the Korean model will work with the rest of the world?
Smeltz: That is a very good question. I think that it will up to a point, but an interesting question is what are the goals of the other players? If their goal is to play well very young and to peak early then I think it would work. If their goal is longevity and to make a career out of golf then I think if they could tap into the training of elite athletes based on the research on early specialization combined with the very strong work ethic of the Korean players then they could be even better.
We all know that most of the Korean players don’t go to school to pursue golf. But we also see so many kids start to play college golf and it’s becoming the trend for junior golfers. What are your thoughts on this topic?
Smeltz: I tend to be a little more conservative by nature, but in the past 10 years or so I do think it was beneficial for the very elite female players to bypass college and turn pro. When the trend started and the better players didn’t go to college, it was harder for the better ones that did go, to improve since the competition wasn’t as good to push them. That led to fewer and fewer of the female players attending college. Since that time, it has become so competitive that I think players should go to college to have something to fall back on since the professional ranks are so competitive these days and we all know that for every player the odds are stacked against them.