South Korea is a mountainous country with dozens of National and Provincial Parks that are renowned for their natural beauty and ancient temples. Given South Korea’s mountainous terrain, it's surprising that the country can boast more than 500 golf courses, so there’s plenty of action going on to keep the travelling golfer happy. Factor in a rich cultural heritage and a number of historic and religious festivals celebrated throughout the year and you have a truly exciting country.
It’s been said that golf was introduced to Korea in 1897 when a number of British people working with Korea’s Maritime Affairs and Tourism Organisation constructed a rudimentary 6-hole layout beside the Korean Customs Office.
Of course, with most Koreans regarding golf as a privilege enjoyed by important company executives and high-ranking military or government officials who conducted crucial business and matters of state in their private country clubs, the game remained a largely foreign sport to the local population right through both World Wars and the Korean War, right up until the 1980s.
A big turning point for Korean golf came in 1998 when Se-Ri Pak won both the LPGA Championship and US Open – the first of five Major Championship titles she would claim during her career – in her rookie season in the United States. Almost overnight, she became a national sporting hero, inspiring a whole new generation of young female golfers, aptly called Seri-Kids, who now dominate women’s golf.
Asia’s most successful male golfer, K. J. Choi, has been a leading role model for Korean players since early in the new millennium, winning eight of his twenty-nine worldwide professional titles on the PGA Tour. Although he won the Players Championship in 2011, he never managed a Major victory, unlike his compatriot Yang Yong-eun – better known as Y. E. Yang – who came from behind to beat Tiger Woods in the 2009 PGA Championship.
Our South Korean Top 50 rankings were last updated in March 2020. Click the link to read the story.