This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Ran Morrissett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Feature Interview with Sang Jun Oh New
« on: April 15, 2021, 09:02:13 AM »오상준/

Golf scratches many itches: outdoors recreation, companionship, exercise, and so forth. Importantly, the game also serves as a window into other cultures though, alas, not during a pandemic when travel is truncated. In anticipation of normalcy returning and the ability to go abroad, three of the next four Feature Interviews focus on travel. This month’s interview is with Sang Jun Oh from Seoul, South Korea, a fellow GOLF magazine panelist. Last year, he published
Living My Life Through Golf in Korean and has been sending me chapters in English as that translation has progressed.

I remain fascinated by how the game spread around the globe. And here we go again with Brits leading the charge, in this case British merchants building the first holes on the peninsula in 1897. Yes, it was ‘only’ 6 holes on the side of a hill in what is now North Korea and the course was short lived but … it was the start. Move the clock forward over a century to opulent resorts like Nine Bridges and South Cape (as nice a facility as any place I have ever experienced), and we see how South Korea has put its own stamp on the game. Watch the video in question 1 and I think you will conclude that Sang Jun Oh makes for a wonderful host in detailing the sport’s evolution there. We glean that Yi Un, the last crown prince of the Chosun dynasty,  spent time at - yes - St. Andrews in 1927 and is recognized as Korea’s first golfer. Duk-Chun Yeon, who learned golf by caddying at Kunjari and then played professionally across Japan, became the first Korean to build an 18 hole course. That was in 1964 and yet, because his knowledge of great architecture was shaped by the great Japanese courses with alternate greens (a.k.a. two greens), all his courses went on to feature alternate greens. Since he never went to the UK and saw the merits of single greens, this is a case of ‘you do what you know.’  It makes me glad that Raynor had Macdonald as a mentor. I wish more was known about Rokuro Akaboshi who worked beside CH Alison in Japan and understood UK courses. Sadly, his work in Korea no longer exists.

Where else can you read about this kind of stuff? To me, this is what GolfClubAtlas is best at – giving people a platform to illuminate the how, where and when of the spread of golf course architecture. After the history lesson, we delve into the development of Nine Bridges on the volcanic isle of Jeju. Then on to the Nicklaus Course outside of Seoul, where Sang Jun Oh served as a project manager. This course was constructed on reclaimed land and hosted the 2015 Presidents Cup.  Oh notes about the power of golf, “Although it can never replicate nature, it can create green space. Turning a plot of land that was once an abandoned salt mine, sanitary landfill, ex-quarry and reclaimed land into a golf course is not only environmentally sustainable but can create jobs and support the local economy. If carefully planned and built on those available lands, golf courses can become a habitat for both wildlife and human beings.”  From the early 3,000 yard courses with sand greens to massive engineering feats like the Nicklaus course, golf has come a long way in South Korea. Last but not least, Oh shares his reflections on South Cape Owners Club and its breathtaking Kye Phillips design.

When the English version of Sang Jun’s book becomes available I will make a separate post. He is excited about the feedback in his native land: “Some of my readers have told me this book has completely changed their attitude toward golf and helped them to regain the energy they need to start over.  Others said the book is full of golf history and facts that they did not know.  I am glad that I have given them different perspectives.  My story is not about the number of golf courses I have played, but about the wisdom and energy I have received from the people and the places I have encountered while traveling.  It is also about how I overcame my hardships and became a better person through golf.  The book also talks about the future of golf that I envision as a golf course critic and an architect.  If I can deliver these messages to the readers, my goal is accomplished.” Seems to me that his message resonates in every language!

Certainly, Joe Andriole and I had a grand time on our South Korea adventure four years ago. Those opulent tea houses at Whistling Rock and the opportunity to play with J.B. Chung at South Cape are both priceless memories. That’s why we travel – to see and experience different things and meet neat people. Let’s hope that starts happening again as the mixing of cultures makes the world a better place.

The past two weeks have been amazing for Asian golf – how about Matsuyama’s caddy bowing at the end? Those kinds of cultural differences inspire, yes? I can’t wait to head back to South Korea sometime and spend time prowling about with Sang Jun Oh. So much to see and learn. I hope you find this month’s Feature Interview as timely as I do.

« Last Edit: May 14, 2021, 04:13:28 AM by Ran Morrissett »

Bret Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Feature Interview with Sang Jun Oh
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2021, 09:57:57 AM »
Thank you Ran and Sang Jun Oh for the terrific interview. 

I was particularly interested in the tidbits on the history of golf in South Korea and Japan.  This topic is not often discussed on GCA. I really enjoyed the photographs of the courses and Oh’s description of how some of these holes play. I have never been to South Korea, so I really appreciate his experience and point-of-view. 

I am looking forward to reading this book in the future (once it is translated to English).  Keep up the good work Ran and thank you to Sang Jun Oh for sharing your experiences through golf.


Sang Jun Oh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Feature Interview with Sang Jun Oh
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2021, 07:00:48 AM »
Thank you Bret Lawrence for your note and encouragement and thank you Ran for the opportunity to share a little piece of Korean golf history thru GolfClubAtlas.

I hope this small window I provided here to peek into becomes mutual and continuous.

I really enjoyed reading the article ‘The Long Lost Lido Found’ and your contribution to it.  This kind of intellectual discourse in golf course history and architecture is the cultural aspect of the US and Europe that I am really envious of, and I wish to do my part in Korea.

One of my first overseas destination after we gain normalcy will be the Ballyshear in Thailand.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts.


Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Feature Interview with Sang Jun Oh
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2021, 07:41:49 PM »
Thanks for illuminating another area of the globe.  We know of all the terrific Korean players bet I have never known much about the golf courses. 

Jeff Schley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Feature Interview with Sang Jun Oh
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2021, 06:54:35 AM »

Good to have you here and insights. I am supposed to go to Korea later this year, although that most likely will be delayed. Looking forward to experiencing the golf courses you mentioned.

Welcome aboard.
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

Sang Jun Oh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Feature Interview with Sang Jun Oh
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2021, 09:34:33 AM »
Dear Jason Topp,
As mentioned in my Youtube profile, it is my idea to continue archiving the golf history of Korea and use that structure to further study the ones in other Asian countries.  Hope to share those new findings with GolfClubAtlas in the future.

Dear Jeff Schley,
Last year, it was so painful to cancel all my trip including ones to Hainan Island(China), east coast(USA) and the UK.  Please give me a heads up when you plan for your next trip to Korea.

Cheers to all


An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()