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Eagles Pride golfer sets sights on pro career

Steilacoom H.S. senior will play golf at WSU next year

Published: 11:16AM June 20th, 2013
Eagles Pride golfer sets sights on pro career

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Steilcoom senior golfer Cherokee Kim works on her game during a recent practice session at the Eagles Pride driving range.

Like many high school seniors, Cherokee Kim was busy this month.

While the 17-year-old juggled finals, prom and graduation, she also defended her Washington Class 2A girls golf state title and qualified for the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.

“It was really busy but it was worth it,” Kim said.

Just because school is out for summer doesn’t mean the recent Steilacoom High School grad will take it easy. There is work to do before Kim heads out to Washington State University where she’ll play on the women’s golf team.

A week after graduating from high school, Kim was on an airplane bound for Oklahoma June 15 to golf in the WAPL championship at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club. Kim didn’t qualify for the championship last year, but as second alternate she received a late call for an open spot. It was stressful to travel to New Jersey the day before the tournament and golf with no practice round, but Kim appreciates the experience.

This year Kim qualified outright at a recent tournament at The Home Course in DuPont. She is competing along with her cousin Katie Lee of Silverdale in the tournament that features golfers from 35 states and nine countries.

The summer is a busy season for Kim, who is on the road nearly every weekend traveling to tournaments with her dad as her caddy. Typically Kim travels within the state or down to Oregon and looks forward to opportunities far away from home to compete at a high level.

“Whenever I do go out of state that means it’s a big deal for us,” Kim said.

Kim has set a number of goals for herself before she moves across the state to Pullman. Following the WAPL Kim hopes to qualify for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship in Indiana as well as the U.S. Women’s Amateur in South Carolina. Kim is focused on her summer to do list and is used to putting in the work nearly six days a week to compete. Kim’s golf career started at the age of 8 at Eagles Pride Golf Course outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Kim grew up on the golf course.

“I have grown stronger mentally and my passion for the game grew,” Kim said. “Throughout high school I learned golf is what I really want to do.”

Kim plays a lot of golf. Every day after school she played as many holes as she could before sundown. Nothing prevents her from practicing. Not even the snow and ice storm last year that shut down golf courses all over the region. Kim practiced putting down a narrow long hallway in her house and hit buckets of balls at Eagles Pride’s covered driving range.

“I want to be able to play out on the course as much as I can,” she said. “It’s always golf.”

John Ford, the superintendent at Eagles Pride and the Steilacoom golf coach, has coached Kim since her sophomore year. He said one of her best traits is her dedication. “She’s out here all the time,” Ford said. “She’s out here as much as I am.”

All of Kim’s hard work has paid off tremendously. At this year’s state golf tournament she battled through poor weather conditions and kept her composure to defend her state title.

“It’s a feeling I can’t describe,” she said. “It’s probably one of my biggest accomplishments in my entire life.”

The future is bright for the golf star as her post-high school career begins. For now Kim is focused on her lineup of tournaments this summer before she moves to WSU to study communication, and hangs on to the ultimate goal of making it to the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

“I feel like (golf) is going to take me far in life,” she said. “I know even if golf doesn’t work out for me in the future, it helped me get to college and it helped me get an education. It really set the tone for my entire future and I’m always going to be appreciative of that.”