Without Adversity, There Is No Growth

By: Tyler Miller | tamiller@pgahq.com

Adversity is inevitable. It’s a natural part of life, yet can be one of the most challenging things a person goes through. It’s how you choose to react to adversity that defines who you are. Dual PGA and LPGA professional Kathy Cho has had to overcome adversity countless times throughout her life; however, her resilient attitude has enabled her to turn negative experiences into prosperous opportunities.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Cho had grown-up hearing about the American Dream and strived to one day live in the United States. In 1979, she packed up her belongings and decided to move to the United States at just 23-years-old, knowing little English. It was while in the United States that Cho was first introduced to the game of golf. She was inspired by legendary golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Lee Trevino who she would watch regularly on television. She turned this initial attraction for golf into a hobby and began to take lessons and play at par-3 golf courses to improve her game.

It was also during this time that Cho began taking college courses at Los Angeles City College and picking up part-time work at a fashion store to pay for her necessities. Due to Cho’s knack for fashion trends and being able to  handle the business- side of the industry, her owner offered to go into a partnership with the store. With business booming, Cho dropped out of school to devote all her energy and resources into the business.

In 1992, 12 years into operating the fashion store, Cho’s store was tragically destroyed in a fire during the 1992 Los Angeles protests. Her primary source of income that helped pay for her first house and raise her kids was gone in an instant. The devastating news left her feeling numb and empty. Despite insurance not covering enough of the damages and having little money to assist in rebuilding, she was still determined to reopen her business. All of the hard work paid off when she was successful in reopening her business in 1994, but Cho quickly realized that things were never going to be the same and decided to close permanently.

In order to divert her attention away from the stresses of rebuilding, Cho looked to golf as an outlet to relax. After closing her fashion store, she was encouraged to apply for a merchandiser position at the Brookside Golf Club. With a background in fashion, Cho was able to excel in this position. John Wells, owner of the Pro Shop, encouraged Cho to pursue her PGA membership and explained that there could be a promising career in golf for her.

Many of the people in Cho’s life didn’t support her new career path, but she wasn’t discouraged and decided to obtain her PGA membership. Being a female instructor, Cho noticing her teaching clientele consisted of 60 to 70 percent female golfers, and wanting to join the camaraderie between LPGA instructors ultimately led her to the decision to pursue her LPGA certification as well.

Cho’s life has been full of obstacles with the odds stacked against her, but she never gave up. Instead, she dove headfirst into her passions, leading to a fulfilling career in the golf industry. She now teaches golfers of all skill levels at Brookside Golf Course and has become a leader in junior golf. Her inspiring story resonates especially today because without adversity, there can be no growth and available opportunities.