Oct. 27, 2004
Song Jeon is a freshman on the Florida State men’s golf team who has competed in one event for the Seminoles this fall. He graduated from St. John’s Lutheran School in Ocala, Fla. in 2004 and was a two-time junior golf All-American. He sat down with Seminoles.com and talked about the first time he picked up a golf club, his favorite reality television show and his favorite food.
What first interested you in persuing a career as a golfer?
“One of the first things that drew me to the sport of golf was the idea that it is one of the only sports any person at any age level can compete with any other person on any other age level. I love the fact that I will be able to enjoy playing the game of golf for the rest of my life. To me thinking of the game of golf as a job is a little harsh. I really enjoy playing the game. I want to continue having fun playing the game and see how far it can take me in life.”
What was the deciding factor in your decision to attend Florida State University?
“There are so many good things about being both a student and an athlete at Florida State. Educationally, Florida State is a great fir for me. We are given every opportunity to be successful as student-athletes. From the tutors to the helpful teachers, FSU is a great place to earn a degree. As an athlete, the practice facility is one of the best in the nation and the coaching staff works to help you become a better player each day. As a student, I feel Tallahassee is a complete city for both athletics and academics.”
What made you want to bring your educational aspirations to the United States?
“It has been almost four years since I left my home country of Korea to come to the United States in order to earn an education and play golf at an advanced level. One of the main reasons I left was because Korea has a very different educational system for athletes than is utilized here in the United States. School is not only about achieving very high academic goals. Many student-athletes in Korea don’t even have to go school – they just practice. My parents and I agreed that it would be a better get a good education and play golf same time. That’s why we decided I would come to the United States.”
When did you pick up your first golf club and how has you game changed since that moment?
“I started play golf when I was about 13. For me it was more like an activity than an organized game. I used to go to the driving range and hit ball hard as I could. One day it occurred to me that if I took the game of golf seriously that I might be able to achieve some goals that I had set for myself. I told my parents that I wanted to be a serious golfer and now the sport is the biggest passion in my life. My game has been improved a lot and is still improving. Technically and physically it has been changed but I feel the same way every time I tee it up. Playing golf is energizing and a way to refresh my mind.”
What were some of the bigger culture shocks you have encountered moving from Korea and attending high school and college in the United States?
“The biggest cultural shock was the different ways in which people are respectful to each other. In my country, the first thing schools consider about a young person is respect. It’s hard to see the student argue with teachers or being rude. I’m not saying students here are rude but in Korea young people are taught to show more respect to their elders. We are taught from a young age to use an honorable word when addressing adult and to bow (this is how we greet our elders). You will never see the student wave their hand to teacher or an elder. I do think, though, that people here are more friendly to each other than they are in Korea. My parents think I become more like American every time they see me.”
What is your motivation when competing against more experienced golfers than yourself at this point in your career?
“Golf is very much a sport that allows you to do your own thing. It doesn’t matter if my opponent is experienced or inexperienced. My job is to do my own thing and play my best. It’s tough to just ignore more experienced golfer some time. However, I have two eyes, two hands and two legs – the same as the other guy — and as long as I have a golf club in my hand I can compete with anyone. At the same time, I can always learn from my opponent about what areas I need to improve my game and how I can become a better and more experienced player.”
When you are not golfing, how do you spend your free time?
“I don’t do much beside golf. When I take brake I don’t even touch my clubs and I try not to think about golf. When I get away from the sport I like to really get away and just relax from it. I enjoy watching movies I could watch as many as eight movies in a day – and I have done that. I tried to fishing and surfing but it wasn’t that interesting to me.”
What is the one food you can not live without?
“One food I cannot live without is rice. One of the customs of the people in Korea is to eat rice every day. It is principal food in Korea. I feel that it helps make me strong, smart and also makes me hit ball straight. It’s not my favorite food, but it allows me to maintain my health and helps me stay energetic.
What is your favorite reality television show? If you were on that show what would be your winning strategy?
“My favorite reality television show is “The Apprentice.” I like when Donald Trump dismisses the contestants with his now famous ‘Your fired’ hand gesture. I think the strategy to winning on that show is to be diligent and always one step ahead other contestants. It is not matter of how smart you or sneaky you are. I believe that if I work harder than anyone you can be successful and work for Mr. Trump.”
Because you are from countries other than the United States, do you and teammate Jonas Blixt face similar challenges and enjoy similar experiences?
“Being a freshman and going through many of the same experiences with Jonas is fun. Everyone needs time to get settled when they move to different place. We are no different than any other person whether they are from the United States or any other country. I have been here almost four years so I’m little more used to this environment than Jonas. I’m sure he’s going through tough times right now. But we don’t have many challenges. Our teammates and two coaches help us out a lot they make us feel like home.”
How often do you get home to Korea?
I have been home only once since I came to United States. I went to home this past summer to see my relatives and friends. It was really nice. I wish I can go more often but a trip to Korea is not a short trip. I have passion in what I’m doing right now so until I succeed I am willing to be patient while I earn an education and continue to improve my golf game.”
How often have your parents been able to watch you play? What would it mean to you to have them watch you play in the United States?
“My mom has come over to watch me play every summer since I came to the United States. She is like my manager. No one knows my game better than my mom. My dad comes to see me once a while. I am very fortunate because my dad works very hard in order for me to earn an education and play golf here in the United States. They are the best. If my parents weren’t there for me I wouldn’t be at Florida State. I would love for them to be able to watch me tournaments more often.”