Investigation of Korean Female Golfers' Success Factors on the LPGA Tour from 1998 to 2007
Bae, WonYul, The Sport Journal
With the development of the internet, it is now possible to easily access international newspaper, magazines, blogs, and other media in order to secure news and information from around the world. For instance, individuals in the United States who are interested in news about Korea and/or its citizens can go to Korean media outlets and access information about myriad topics concerning Korea. While finding news through Korean media outlets was fairly easy, finding Korean news stories in American television news programs or cable networks was relatively difficult and uncommon. (Yes, finding information was difficult) When Chan-Ho Park became the first Korean Major League Baseball (MLB) to be signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994, and Se Ri Pak, became the first Korean to win the U.S. Open Tournament and advance to the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Tour in 1998, the Korean people could get more news about them through American television programs or ESPN (Entertainment and Sport Programming Network) cable program. With South Korea's economy in shambles in 1998, Chan Ho Park and Se Ri Pak gave encouragement and hope to Korean people. When Chan Ho Park announced the starting pitcher for the L.A. Dodgers' game or Se Ri Pak would participated in one of the LPGA Tour tournaments, Korean television programs and big screens in Seoul city aired these game. As Korean people were watching Park and Pak's victories for the Major League baseball game and the LPGA Tour tournaments, Korean people felt some sense of satisfaction from them during the difficult Korean recession period (16). Most Korean people believed that when these two players were signed to go into a major sports league, they would fail, because of differences related to skill, physicality, culture, language, food, and a host of other potential challenges. However, Park and Pak overcame these supposed problems and were very successful in their respective sports. The success of Park and Pak gave great hope to the Korean people to also overcome their serious economic problems in the late 1990s (16). In addition, as Pak in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour collected four victories (including two major tournaments wins), other Korean female golfers began to complete and eventually join the LPGA Tour.
As a result of the door opened by Pak and the record of her achievements, South Korea now has the largest international contingent on the LPGA Tour (14). One of the interesting things about the Korean female golfers on the LPGA Tour is that while the Korean players have a large number of victories, they have not turned out a dominant player since Pak burst on the scene a decade ago with victories in the 1998 McDonald's LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Open. Ten years after Pak's debut in 1998, 42 Korean players (i.e., Se Ri Pak, Mi-Hyun Kim, Grace Park, Shi-Hyun Ahn, Soo Yeong Kang, etc) are now playing on the LPGA Tour. Every year, Korean female players are increasing on the LPGA Tour. Nineteen-Koreans (i.e., Se Ri Pak, Mi-Hyun Kim, Grace Park, Hee Won Han, Jeong Jang, etc) have won 64 LPGA Tour events over the past decade. No other professional sports league in the world has as many Korean players. Only a few Korean female handball players are playing on professional teams in Japan and Europe, and only one basketball player has played for the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association). The numerous Korean players and victories on the LPGA Tour is a unique phenomenon. One may wonder why Korean female players are so prevalent on the LPGA Tour and so good at the sport of golf. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyze the reasons why Korean female golfers have been successful in securing such a dominant position on the LPGA Tour.
The History of the LPGA and the KLPGA
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour is the longest running women's professional sport association (1). The LPGA Tour was founded in 1950 by 13 members (1). …