When talking about the nickname ‘Mister Long Legs’ in the Korean golf world, many people will think of Kang Hyung-mo, president of the Korea Golf Association (KGA). At Yuseong CC in Daejeon, run by Chairman Kang, young Se-ri Pak developed her dream of dominating the world stage by playing and practicing as much as she could without worrying about expenses. Jang Jeong, Jeon Mi-jeong, Kim Ju-yeon, Lee Mi-na, Hong Jin-ju, Choi Jin-ho, and Heo Mi-jeong also did the same. These are the so-called ‘Yuseong Scholarship Students’.

Chairman Kang was elected president of the Korea Golf Association in June this year. He took on the position left vacant by the resignation of the previous president. He transformed from a long-legged guy to a relief pitcher. He’s not just a relief pitcher. He is a ‘special selection’ relief pitcher who has protected the association for 20 years as a director who takes care of the association’s affairs, as the chairman of the player enhancement committee in charge of the national team, and as a full-time vice president. They always insist on wearing the association’s uniform with the KGA logo and Taegeukgi on it, so it would look awkward if they wore other clothes.

Chairman Kang, whom we recently met at the association’s office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, said, “If I don’t have anything else to do, I go to work every day.” However, the other work is association work, such as awarding awards at competitions.

Chairman Kang Hyung-mo poses at the museum within the Korea Golf Association.

How have you spent your time since being elected in June? Stabilization of the organization must have been one of the priority tasks.>>>

“There was an existing organization and it was not operated very inefficiently, so there was actually nothing to say about stabilizing the organization. Association work involves fixed events that must be held every year and carrying out tasks on a regular basis. It’s not an organization where I can change anything as soon as I come in. However, we can say that we are in the process of establishing what needs to be done while focusing on future-oriented mid- to long-term plans.”

Comparing your time as a full-time vice president and now as the president, what are the differences in terms of work and responsibility?>>> “In

reality, I am working 100% the same as when I was a full-time vice president. That’s because he suddenly became the chairman and worked there for the remaining 1 year and 6 months of the former chairman’s term. “I guess the only thing I can do is to do my best at what I have to do during my term.”

Golf fans and the public will have high expectations for him to win medals at the Hangzhou Asian Games and the Paris Olympics next summer. Of course, it is a pleasure to see golf perform well in international competitions, but is there another reason that is more important from the association’s perspective?>>> “

Because the Korea Golf Association is a competition organization affiliated with the Korea Sports Council, it trains many excellent players to compete in international competitions. The top goal is to achieve good grades. “But I’m worried that there are fewer young people who want to play golf recently than there used to be.”

How serious is it?>>>

“Just looking at male athletes, compared to 10 to 20 years ago and now, the number of registered athletes is less than half of what it used to be. This is true when comparing the times 20 years ago when players like Kim Kyung-tae and Kang Seong-hoon were playing for the national team and now. “There is a gradual increase these days, but it is not enough.”

What should we do?>>>

“If there are so few children who want to become golf players, discovering and nurturing them becomes very difficult. In addition to cost and environmental factors, the growing global competition can also be seen as an influence. In any case, encouraging children to become interested in golf has become an urgent priority. “More than anything, we need to increase the number of elementary school student players, so we are working with the golf associations of 17 cities and provinces to develop programs that will attract children’s interest.”

What kind of program is it?>>>

“I think it is important to introduce a training program that goes beyond simply a program that will spark interest and explains what kind of process you will take when you get into golf. Efforts are being made to develop scientific and systematic training programs.”

What impact did Inbee Park’s gold medal in women’s golf at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics have on the domestic golf world?>>> “It

was significant in itself that a Korean player won a gold medal in a historic event where golf returned to the Olympics after 112 years. “It was very meaningful not only for the player himself, but also for our association and our country as a whole.”

(The Korea Golf Association gave Inbee Park a 300 million won reward and Pak Se-ri, who coached the women’s national team, a leader’s reward of 50 million won. It was an unprecedented amount compared to other sports. At the time, the association set aside up to 1.1 billion won for awards alone. There was a lot of talk about Inbee Park because of his injury, but

as someone who was close to him, did you have the belief that he could still win?>>> “It’s

our first time at the Olympics, and the coach, I think the players were very nervous because it was their first time. The Olympics had a completely different feel from the tour competitions. In that respect, Director Park Se-ri played a big role. He did a good job of alleviating the burden by giving advice to the players to give them a sense of stability. Efforts to make each other comfortable were visible among the association, coaches, and players. The association worked hard to provide comfortable accommodation and Korean food near the venue. “Although we did not achieve a medal result in the second Olympics (Tokyo 2021), we are preparing for next year’s Paris Olympics with the thought that we must create the best environment to win a gold medal.”

Gathering the voices of provincial and provincial associations is also an important role.>>>

“The basic task of our association is ultimately to discover and develop players belonging to each provincial and provincial association. Players who do well in each city or province will participate in the Middle and High School Association competitions, and if they advance further from there, they will participate in competitions hosted by our association. However, it is true that the level of city and provincial associations, which is the most basic level, is poor.”

In what ways is it bad?>>>

“Even if each province or city tries to hold a competition, it is difficult to rent a golf course and it costs a lot to develop players. So, as a central organization, our association tries to provide as much support as possible. In fact, the intensity of support has increased over the past 10 years. From now on, we must work together with each city and province to develop programs together. It would also be a good model to encourage talent donation by having players from the LPGA Tour or the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour participate. “We are preparing very intensively to create a beneficial program.”

What does the popularization of golf look like in Korea’s golf environment, which is different from the United States or Japan? >>>

“Popularization means that the more people play golf among the total population of our country, the more popular it can be. . “For that to happen, shouldn’t golf courses be more diverse?”

What would it look like?>>>

“There is no need to just have an 18-hole golf course. I think 9-hole golf courses are good, and more 6-hole golf courses should be built. If there is a golf course with a green fee of 150,000 won, there should be another with a green fee of 100,000 won and another with a green fee of 50,000 won. From a golfer’s perspective, there should be many options. Currently, in our country, only slogans are popularized and there are not many real options. Aren’t more than 90% of golf courses of similar level? That’s why whenever there’s talk about green fees rising, people say things like ‘it’s expensive’ and ‘it goes against popularization’. If 6-hole and 9-hole golf courses, which are operated for minimal profit, are actively operated at the government or local government level, so that various options are distributed across the country, wouldn’t true popularization be accelerated? “It is said that it is already close to becoming popular due to the remarkable influx of golfers in recent years, but I think there are still many difficulties before it becomes ‘true’ popular.”

Tax issues are also constantly raised.>>>

“If you look at the individual consumption tax (21,120 won per person), isn’t it a punitive taxation because golf is ultimately viewed as a luxury? Popularization will only be possible if the individual consumption tax is eliminated first. In addition, various heavy taxes are tying down golf courses. Since all of this is reflected in the green fee, improving taxation is an urgent issue. “Based on economic logic, if the tax issue is lifted, it can naturally lead to the popularization of golf.”

I am also curious about your activities within the R&A, which can be said to be the home of world golf, and the International Golf Federation (IGF).>>>

“The largest international organization in golf is the IGF. Just as associations around the world are members, of course our association is also a member. I have been working as an executive committee member of IGF for 5-6 years. “I also attend the executive committee meetings of the general assembly every year.”

I heard that there are only a very small number of executive committee members who oversee IGF’s overall business and finances.>>>

“It can be said that the influence of our country’s golf on the international stage has become significant. Personally, I am making efforts in various ways to further raise the status of Korean golf during events such as attending general meetings.”

How about exchanges with R&A?>>>

“We are also constantly interacting. In the case of the Korea Open, a tournament hosted by the Korea Golf Association, not only the winner but also the runners-up were able to advance directly to the Open thanks to the R&A’s recognition of Korean golf and the association. “It can be said that the status of Korean men’s golf has risen to the extent that two automatic entry tickets to the Open have been issued.”

You said that the competitiveness of Korean golf comes from golf fans. Have you ever experienced the importance of fans?>>>

“Isn’t the professional world meaningless without fans? You can clearly see this just by visiting the KLPGA Tour venue. Our country is the only country where people hold pickets, cheer, and wear matching hats and clothes. Even in Japan, where cheering for athletes was extremely hot, there is nothing like that these days. The fan culture of Korean golf tournaments is very strong and solid. Based on this, the popularity of the KLPGA Tour will likely last for a very long time. The presence of fans is a great force supporting the tour. Our association’s role is to continue to produce many players that fans can be excited about. “We must always think about how we can nurture promising players so that they can go to the pros and blossom into major players, and once again, we must establish scientific techniques.”

The Asian Games course was shrouded in mystery.>>>

“No one was allowed to enter, so each country was in the same situation without anyone having an advantage or disadvantage. However, I couldn’t just leave it alone. We sought cooperation from the China Golf Association and tried to obtain any information we could. We collected a lot of data by making good use of the relationships between associations. According to the director of the R&A, the golf course where the tournament will be held recently underwent extensive renovation. For the Asian Games golf, the course setting difficulty has been set at ‘medium’ considering the level of players participating from each country, and the same will be true this time as well. “I think there will be good results.”

During the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Saitama Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry members were a great help. In cooperation with the association, we made reservations for accommodations close to the golf course and took responsibility for meals for the national team. Will such a human network be operational during the Hangzhou Asian Games and Paris Olympics?

“Yes. In particular, I have visited Paris twice over the past two years, looked around, and confirmed most of the things I wanted to see. Discussions with the Korean community there have been completed. Koreans in the Hangzhou area will also provide a lot of help for the Asian Games. During international competitions, vivid information and help from local people is a great help. So, whenever we hold international competitions, we always take care of local support first.”

Are the Paris Olympics going to be coached by Choi Kyung-ju and Pak Se-ri like the previous two Olympics?>>>

“This is a very cautious statement. There is no original rule that says there must be separate coaches for the men’s and women’s teams at the Olympics. Considering the stability felt by the players as a top priority, the previous two times were coached by Choi Gyeong-ju for the men’s team and coach Se-ri Pak for the women’s team. In fact, it could be said that it was brought in because the association made an unreasonable request. Therefore, it may be difficult to make an unreasonable request three times in a row, but what is clear is that nothing has been confirmed yet. Isn’t it uncertain whether four Korean female athletes will compete (since it is determined based on world rankings at the time of the Olympics) or whether only two will participate? The process of appointing a director must be done while taking time to evaluate the situation. “We will discuss it in the first half of next year.”

What thoughts did you gain from the disappointing no-medal experience at the Tokyo Olympics?>>>

“To put it bluntly, I thought (winning a medal) would become increasingly difficult. The number of female players taking up golf in Europe and the United States has increased significantly. First of all, they have overwhelming physical strength. This means that many players who exercise properly have entered golf. Our players will not have an easy time on the world stage if they do not focus on strengthening their physical abilities. The Olympics will be especially difficult, and I think the LPGA tour will follow that trend as well. “We will have to keep up with the long shots based on our strong physique and stamina.”

Do you think Korean golf as a game is in crisis?>>>

“Rather than a crisis, it would be more accurate to say that we are also at a crossroads because trends are changing. If you do not strengthen your basic physical strength from the youth stage, it will become increasingly difficult to survive. So our association has a lot to do. “We will prepare a systematic and scientific physical strengthening system.”

Do you like playing golf or do you find golf administration more fun?>>>

“I like playing. It’s just that I don’t have time to play it often. “It can be said that it is ‘much’ more fun to play than to play.”

What is the appeal of golf as work and administration?>>>

“Well, looking back, it has already been 20 years since I worked in the association related to the national team (director, player enhancement committee chairman, player leader for various international competitions, etc.). I find it incredibly rewarding to watch a player I have watched since childhood grow up, stand out on the international stage, and become a truly great player. Isn’t that the biggest charm? A player who was thought to be young later became number one in the world. “It is something that the entire association is proud of.”

Didn’t you contribute to the permanent operation of the national golf team?>>>

“That’s true, but what we can be proud of now is that the national team selection system has been completed. Until now, we had relied on the selection process. During the tryouts, my condition plummeted, so even though I am a good player, I could have failed. That’s unlikely now. Points are awarded each time you participate in a tournament, and after one year, the Korea Golf Association ranking is automatically released. The national team is selected based on this ranking system. “Once you are selected as a representative, your skills will improve through the same level of training as the PGA Tour or LPGA Tour players.”

She said that when she first saw aspiring player Se-ri Pak, her practice amount was more noticeable than her talent. Did you get the feeling that he was a player who would make a big deal since he was a junior? >>>

“That couldn’t be possible. In hindsight, it was special. How can we predict the future? However, it is true that Se-ri Pak practiced a lot. “Having watched several players grow up for over 20 years, I can see that in the end, players who work hard on their own will win.”

Isn’t talent greater than effort?

“I say this to the national team players. Tiger Woods still hits 1,800 practice balls a day. This applies not only to Woods but also to most players on the PGA Tour, which is said to be the best in the world. 1000~1500 pieces. If you count the number of balls you’ve practiced throughout your life, it’s said to be 6 to 7 million. So, I ask the representative players this. Have you ever hit a million balls while playing golf? This is what practice and effort are all about. When you think about it, it seems like you are doing quite a lot, but in order to become a world-class player, you need an unimaginable amount of practice. This is especially true in golf.”

Did Se-ri Pak stick to practice that much?>>>

“Even after entering the U.S., she practiced for 10 hours a day. I’m not saying that I’m necessarily talking about Pak Se-ri, but I’m saying that all of the players who stand out in the world today got to that position with an incredible amount of practice. Players with good practice will eventually be ranked at the top of the leaderboard. On the other hand, a player who disappears from the leaderboard at some point is because he or she has not been able to practice enough.”

What do you think when you see Director Se-Ri Pak playing a big role in the broadcasting industry, including on TV? Did he have talent since he was young? >>>스포츠토토

“I don’t know to that extent, but I think he realized that he had talent that he didn’t even know about. From then on, I started to follow suit and heard that he was doing well. “He’s doing very well, isn’t he?”

He steadily supported many players, including coach Se-ri Park, behind closed doors. Is there any other reason why I have such strong feelings for a promising player?>>>

“Anyway, playing golf in our country is more difficult than I thought. It is very difficult to become a player in all the surrounding conditions, from using the golf course or practice range to school life. That’s why it’s so hard without someone by your side to help you. I only help because I know that well. “There is no way we are asking for something in return, and I hope you will see that we are simply sending water unilaterally.”

For example, should we say that a sense of duty also comes into play?>>>

“Rather than taking the approach of ‘a specific player must do well,’ we try to help as many players around us as possible. Having worked in the golf course industry for a long time, I was able to create an environment where I could provide relatively direct help, so I took advantage of that. It is not due to a special sense of mission. “I just did it because it was what I could do best.”

On the other hand, if there are benefactors who have provided great help to the Chairman in the past.>>>

“You should see that you are receiving help from such people every day. I wouldn’t be able to do the things I’ve done in the past or the things I’m currently responsible for without the help of many people around me. One thing I would like to say is that the golf courses that make up the Korea Golf Association are very responsible for the development of golf in a short period of time with the emergence of players like Se-Ri Pak in Korea. “Golf courses formed associations 50 years ago to collect membership fees and support player development.”

In that context, some say that the practice environment for juniors has become worse than 10 or 20 years ago. I heard that support such as opening practice greens and green fee discounts is gradually disappearing.>>>

“If there is a national team or standing army player, we request it from our association’s member golf course so that we can practice in the area where the player is. Recently, we received a call from the Air Force Headquarters offering to allow student athletes to come and practice at Air Force base golf courses and practice ranges across the country. “We will make more efforts at the central level so that children from the 17 provincial and provincial associations can sufficiently hone their skills at local golf courses.”

He was also a representative player in the 1970s. The most memorable moment as a player.>>>

“I don’t even remember it because it happened over 40 years ago. At that time, it was rare for an amateur like me to participate in a professional competition. “I went there partly because of my father and because I really like golf.”

It is known that the best score is 6 under par.>>>

“It will also be in the association records. It was a long time ago, and by today’s standards, it was almost like a joke, so there’s nothing special to say about it. People around me keep bringing up that I was a player, so I feel a lot of pressure every time that happens. It’s not easy to be in trouble if something like that comes up, especially when you go out to play golf. It’s been a long time since I played golf that focused on scores. I don’t even care about ‘age suits’ or anything like that. “Just walking for exercise is good.”

I’m sure you think about your father a lot when you give out awards as president of the association.>>>

“My father was very fond of golf and worked at the association for a long time, so I have been familiar with what he played since I was young. He naturally followed that path and ended up here. “Anyway, my mother is the happiest because my son has taken on the position of president of the Korea Golf Association, which my father never held.”

(Chairman Kang’s late father, Kang Min-gu, former honorary chairman of Yuseong CC, opened the doors of Yuseong CC in 1975 and took the lead in nurturing aspiring golfers. Kang Min-koo, the most prestigious women’s amateur, Korea Women’s Amateur Championship honors honorary chairman Kang Min-gu, who contributed to the development of Korean golf. It is a competition in honor of me.)

If it weren’t for my father’s influence, would I have chosen to pursue a career in golf?>>>

“Well, I don’t know. Anyway, because of her father, she started playing golf in 1967. There was a time when golf clubs were rare, so if you got one, you cleaned it diligently. She loved it so much that she would cuddle and sleep with it. She learned to play golf that way when she was ten years old. “She played a lot of other sports, but strangely golf suited me.”

The motto of the current government’s sports policy is ‘Sports Friendly.’ Among them, it is said that they are very interested in revitalizing school sports. Can golf also become more friendly to children?>>>

“At a time when school sports were being reduced, there were only three golf competitions a year in which student athletes could participate. It has eased a bit now. “We will actively discuss with schools to create an environment where golf can be introduced and enjoyed from a young age.”

On the LPGA tour, the strength of Thailand, Thais, and China stands out. Should this be seen as the result of benchmarking Korea’s system?>>>

“Not really. The systems are different in each country, such as China and Thailand. As mentioned earlier, the LPGA market has grown significantly compared to 10 years ago. This is true even if you look at the size of the prize money. As the pie grows, more people come in. It is natural to view the strength of Thailand and China as part of that trend. Since Korea has a strong market called the KLPGA Tour, there seems to be some influence in Korea not wanting to go to the LPGA. Of course, it is not a matter of interfering with individual choices.”

What are the things you need to continuously pay attention to and promote during your term?>>>

“It’s related to the association’s system for players. For example, the Japanese Association has established a course and sought development 10 years ago by incorporating the Australian system, which is similar to the PGA Tour system, and as a result, the level of the training system has increased significantly. It is true that we wonder whether we are responding properly to change. I believe that the best results come from the process of continuously being open, accepting and applying something new. The new chairman is trying to change the structure a bit. “There are many areas that need to be upgraded, starting with the training system.”


Born: 1957 | Education: Gyeongbok High School – Korea University Business School – Campbell University, USA – Doctor of Business Administration, Honorary College, Belle Haven University, USA