Golf champ Ha Na Jang has her eye on the ball. When she’s not at home in Yongin in South Korea (near Seoul) she’s usually chasing birdies, bogeys and holes in one across the globe. “I love the travelling part of professional golf. I get to travel many places and taste various foods. I often joke that I play golf to travel and eat.” Ha Na was a sporty child. As a youngster she swam, and loved kendo, skiing and skating. “My dad used to like playing various sports and that influenced me. One day, when I was nine, he took me to an indoor golf range and a coach recommended I play seriously after watching me hitting a few balls.”
It’s a good thing he did. She was destined for big things.
In mid-2017 Ha Na was ranked tenth in the world and won four titles on the LPGA Tour. That’s a lot of prize money. She swings clubs all over the globe and is heading to Adelaide during February when the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open hits Kooyonga Golf Club. It’s not her first time on our greens. The defending champion played in front of a Royal Adelaide crowd in 2017 and has her sights set on winning the Patricia Bridges Bowl (winner’s trophy). “Kooyonga Golf Course was tough and yet it was suitable for me,” she says. “The greens were considerably small and fast green speed in strong wind challenged me. I liked the course and I would not mind joining there.”
Hard work helped her hit golf heights. She is inspired by former professional golfer Seri Pak (“A hero in Korea”), Katherine Kirk (“She always has a smile regardless of her play”), Swedish player Sophie Gustafson (“I like her playing style. She plays aggressively but smart”) and English pro golfer Karen Stupples. “I look up to how she carries herself in life and her career.”
The main challenge of professional golf has been loneliness. “It is lonely because it is an individual sport. For that reason, you have to be mentally strong to reach number one.” Ha Na says building a public persona is also important. She’s certainly done that. Keep your eyes peeled for her enthusiastic dance moves when she is triumphant on the golf course. “I am a multi-entertainer. I like drawing, singing and dancing.”
Her tip for aspiring golfers is: “Rather than focusing on scoring, focus on one goal for the round. It may result in better score after all.”
If she hadn’t pursued sport, she would have become a vet. “I love animals.” She also loves dessert and looks forward to exploring South Australia’s food scene. “I want to visit fine restaurants with a nice view. I also want to visit Kangaroo Island.”
Above all, the simplest things make her happiest. Like hugging her parents after a win. “What else do I want to achieve in life? I want to reach career win number 20. And it may sound very normal but I want to live happily ever after with my loved one.”
2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will be played at Adelaide’s Kooyonga Golf Club from 15 to 18 February.