I just got back from a book tour of Korea, and I was there to discover the secret to how such a little country like Korea can produce a wave of female golfers that dominate the LPGA. I traveled to The One Golf Academy run by Dr. Won Park. They are located next to a giant Samsung factory and underneath a highway bridge. The Academy is really just a driving range with a par three course next door. From this humble place comes a long list of Korean of golf stars.
I asked Dr. Park how he does it. “Simple. You start the girls at a young age and expect to see a total commitment to golf by the age of 12. We assume they will work extremely hard, seven days a week. The parents are devoted to the child’s career and give their last penny to them. This kind of support lasts for about 10 years. They typically turn pro by the age of 18 and are expected to win or suffer great shame and guilt. It helps that we have a national superstar in Se Ri Pak for the kids to look up to.”
What’s good for golf is good for tennis. If you want to develop a young prodigy, do what they do in Korea. Start them young, expect them to fully commit to tennis to the exclusion of all else by the age of 12, provide unlimited support for 10 years, give them good coaching, and in return, expect both respect, gratitude and many trophies. Some say this is too harsh to do to American children, but it sure does work in Korea.