Those hard-to-resist Svengalis: Joon Chul Pak


Next month, Se Ri Pak is going to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Maybe then her father will finally lay off the extreme training tactics, which have included, in no particular order:

  • taking her to pit-bull fights
  • training her in cemeteries
  • & in freezing weather until icicles formed in her hair
  • reprimanding her with a stick called a pechori
  • making her climb 15-story staircases--backward & forward

In a 1998 NYTimes profile of Pak & Pak, an incident at one of Se Ri's first tournaments is described:

When she was a sophomore in high school in Taejon, Pak played in the Golf Digest Cup tournament. On the first day of the tournament, her father, Joon Chul Pak, saw several parents of young golfers talking. He approached them to say hello. ''They completely ignored me,'' he said recently. ''I guess my daughter and myself didn't seem like much to them, because of their high social status. So I called Se Ri in front of the trophy and handed it to her, saying, 'This is yours.' The others looked at me as if I was some crazed lunatic. So I screamed back: 'So what if I touch it! My Se Ri is going to take it home with her anyways!' Se Ri nodded in agreement. Later, she did take the trophy back home with her.''

Some kids don't mind having their parents involved in their sporting affairs, but I was never one of them; I'd always give my parents the wrong times or just plain make them promise they wouldn't show up. I had plenty of friends whose parents became backseat drivers at events, and the outcomes were usually profoundly embarrassing--if not career damaging--for the kids. Anyone out there ever have a parent for a coach, or a "coach"?