Gihoe Seo, a junior at Mercer Island High School, won two golf tournaments this summer and was named the 2019 Washington Junior Golf Association (WJGA) Girls Player of the Year.
Seo won the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) Junior Girls Amateur Championship in Port Ludlow, and the WJGA Tournament of Champions in Clarkston.
Going into the tournaments in August, Seo knew if she played well, she would be named the Player of the Year. To determine the award, points are awarded to each golfer based off how well they do in tournaments. The person with the most points at the end of the year is then named the Player of the Year.
“It was a really good experience,” Seo said. “Being named the Player of the Year is incredible.”
Seo said she had to manage her nerves, even when she had a difficult second day at the PNGA Championships.
“When I get really nervous, my hands shake and that’s the worst thing in golf,” Seo said. “I just take deep breaths and tell myself to be confident because I can do it. The nerves don’t go away, but that may be a good thing.”
On the course, Seo said she keeps calm and tries to play her own game. During the PNGA tournament, one of Seo’s opponents kicked her clubs after missing a putt.
“When I play, even if I hit a bad shot, I just think to myself and tell myself that I can make it better,” Seo said. “I don’t kick my clubs or throw them.”
Both tournaments were held on unfamiliar golf courses for Seo, but she said as the tournaments went on, she became more comfortable.
“You have to have a strategy when you get out on the course,” Seo said. “If there are lots of trees, you think, ‘I’m going to play more conservative and play more straight,’ if it’s wide open, I’m just going to hit it out there because I don’t care where it goes at that point.”
Even though she’s only been golfing competitively for five years, Seo has always been around the game. Along with having family members who play, she said the Golf Channel was always on the TV, so picking up the sport came quickly.
“I had a basic swing to begin with,” Seo said. “It was easy for my dad to mold it and make it better.”
In the spring, Seo plays with the Mercer Island High School golf team. Last season, the Islanders finished third in the 2019 3A state championship. Seo said the coaches are encouraging and not stressful.
“Because we’re successful, we’re positive all the time,” Seo said. “The coaches are always really encouraging. I can trust my teammates to play their best, and if I play my best, we’ll succeed.”