Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hannah Yun Interview, Part II: The Sequel

Hannah Yun graciously agreed to continue our ongoing/intermittent email conversation after we signed off on Part I in early February. With the Futures Tour kicking off this Thursday Friday, we thought it was high time to wrap things up. Technical difficulties aside, I had a great time and I want to thank Hannah and her family for the chance to interview her. I wish her the best this week and over the rest of her golfing career!

[Note to BerubeWatch fans of MH's days of yore (rather than "fore!") (10:01 am): Head on over to Citizen of Somewhere Else for my invocation of Berube's response to the Habermas-Lyotard debate/conundrum in light of the SUNY vs. UUP leadership throw-down currently happenin' in the Empire State. Excelsior!]

THE CONSTRUCTIVIST (2/3/10): Over the years now that I've been following women's golf closely and blogging about it, I've developed an informal taxonomy of kinds of players. To me, it seems like there are bombers like Lorena Ochoa, Ya Ni Tseng, Michelle Wie, Suzanne Pettersen, Vicky Hurst, Maria Hjorth, and Brittany Lincicome who may struggle with accuracy off the tee more (Lincicome, Wie) or less (Ochoa), but who know how to take advantage of their length; there are straight shooters like Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Song-Hee Kim, and Sun Young Yoo who may not be quite as long as the bombers but reach the fairway much more reliably; and there are precision players like Paula Creamer, Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Seon Hwa Lee, Morgan Pressel, and Natalie Gulbis whose games are keyed by their ability to hit the fairway most of the time. Sure, there are players who are difficult to characterize--is Miyazato long enough off the tee to be considered a straight shooter instead of a precision player?--and the lines between kinds of players aren't that hard and fast. But generally the bombers average around 270 yards and hit the fairway less than 65% of the time; the straight shooters average between 255 and 265 yards and hit the fairway between 65% and 75% of the time; and the precision players average under 255 yards and hit the fairway over 75% of the time. In other words, to be successful on the LPGA, as all of the players I've named have been, you need to be more accurate the shorter a hitter you are and longer the less accurate a ball striker you are. So what do you think of this breakdown? If you think it's generally accurate, how would you identify yourself as a golfer within it? If not, what other category would you put yourself in and who else belongs in it? What kind of player would you most like to be?

HANNAH YUN: Well one thing that links all those great players together is that they all have a strong short game. Being 5'2" and 120 lbs., I've always had to keep it in play in order to compete. This past off-season I started working on making my swing more efficient, which helped me gain distance while maintaining my accuracy; I normally hit around 10-11 fairways a round. It was nice to see that I was hitting my drives consistently with Maria Hjorth a couple weeks ago because she's one of the longer LPGA players. I personally believe that it's possible to be both long and accurate.

By the way, I realized I never asked what classes you teach.

TC (2/5): Hey, you're not trying to change the subject there, are you? ;) I teach introductory world literature, American Studies, and multiethnic studies courses, intermediate-level courses in American literature, science fiction, and critical theory, and a range of advanced courses, usually on topics in those areas. All my syllabi are online at my home page. Check 'em out when you get a chance! I'll have some questions for you that connect to the American Identities course I'm teaching this semester in a little while, but for now I want to keep the focus on what kind of player you aspire to be. I don't know if you caught my blog post that elaborated on my opening question or fellow LPGA blogger Hound Dog's thoughtful response, but it sounds to me from your answer that you're aspiring to be a very rare kind of player, let's say a "straight-up bomber." The only players I can think of who attained that for any length of time in recent memory have been Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. Nothing like setting your sights high, eh? If you don't mind sharing the information, what are the normal distances you hit each club (assuming no wind or slope or anything like that)?

HY (2/8): You want me to look at all your syllabi? Why do you think I left school? haha All of your classes seem like they have thought provoking topics, though.

I like to hit my 7-iron 150 yards; I'm not big on trying to max out my irons 'cause I figure that's why we have 14 clubs :P. My coach helped me to be more efficient with energy transfer in my swing so that lets me maximize distance but still maintain my accuracy. We've been tinkering alot with my driver and I just changed shafts to Graphite Design's new Tour AD shaft in my R9 head. I was able to go on the trackman system during a demo day at our club a couple days ago and it said I was hitting it over 260.

TC: Hey, "when you get a chance" can mean 15 years from now! So, OK, in my system, then, you'd have recently graduated from "precision player" to "straight shooter." I've just erased 4 different attempts to politely suggest that your becoming a "straight-up bomber" is dependent on whether you're still growing--each time I looked at one of them, I imagined you reading it and reacting like Ed does in Full Metal Alchemist when anyone comments on his (lack of) height. Let me hasten to add that I'm 5'6" and can sometimes hit a 7-iron 150, and that's only because I switched from forged irons to Callaway X-14 Steelheads some years ago.... I just couldn't see myself playing often enough to deserve Mizunos. :(

Since you brought up equipment, I'm wondering if you have any hybrids in your bag, and if so, how many and when/why you switched to them. Also, have you noticed any patterns in how the new grooves rules have affected your iron play and particularly your wedge game?

HY (2/14): Haha I'm used to people calling me short so I don't mind :) But I've never actually watched FMA so don't exactly know how Ed would react. But if it's like any other anime character that gets upset, I'm guessing flames in the background? haha

I have a 19 degree Taylormade Raylor that I use instead of a 5w actually. I found that I'd rather have an extra wedge to give me more scoring options than having a small gap between my woods. Also, the Raylor is designed to go through the rough better. I'm not sure if you remember, but the concept is similar to the La Jolla fairway woods that came out about 6-7 years ago.

I have the new grooves for all my wedges and irons but thankfully I haven't noticed a significant difference between the old and new grooves. Of course, I don't spin it as much as the guys but the only place I could tell a difference from was the bunker... Good for me I guess :P

TC: Bingo! I'll see if I can embed a youtube clip of Ed losing his temper here when this goes on the blog, but you already have an admirable knowledge of anime conventions. What do you like to watch? And draw?

[Too brilliant an AMV not to link to, even though there's no real reaction to what we've been talking about in it. The contrast between Ouran High School Host Club and FMA is too awesome to pass up.--TC]

[Ah, this one is short and sweet!--TC]

Interesting that you're not seeing all that much difference with the new grooves. From what I've been reading, we might see more "flyers" from the rough with them. If they put more of a premium on hitting the fairway, more power to you, eh? In a post I wrote today giving my reasons why I think Ai Miyazato will be LPGA Player of the Year in 2010, I speculated that the "bombers" on tour might have more of an adjustment to make than any other kind of player. Have you been talking about this with other players? Anything you've been hearing that might confirm my theory?

So you go driver, 3-wood, raylor, then 3-iron and 3 wedges, right? (Or do you skip down to 4-iron and carry 4 wedges?) Have you experimented with different loft combinations since you got the new grooves, or are you happy with your regular configuration?

Sorry to ask so many questions--been saving them up! ;)

HY (2/15): I haven't watched any anime in a while but I think my favorites would be Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo. I read the Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece manga though. I only did a few sketches a couple years ago but I don't really draw a lot; I think I go through phases.

Right, if players see any change it'll most likely be from the rough, since it used to spin the same as when the ball would be in the fairway. The higher swing speed players will see more of a difference since they spin the ball more, which is why the guys will see a bigger difference than the women.

I go Driver, 3w, Raylor, then 4 iron. I used to use a 58, 52, PW configuration but I recently switched to a 60, 56, 52, and PW. I'm still trying to experiment with other lofts but I'm sticking with the one I have for now.

That's ok! Keep the questions coming :)

TC: Ah, an Adult Swim fan! I loved Cowboy Bebop and was fine with Samurai Champloo. But my favorites were Ghost in the Shell and Full Metal Alchemist. These days I'm keeping up with the new season of the latter through youtube and fandub sites like Anime Crazy, as we, ahem, haven't had cable for almost 3 years, ever since we got back from a year in Japan and realized there were only a few channels in the States we ever felt like watching. Through youtube, my girls have gotten into older shoujo anime like Ojamajo Doremi and Pretty Cure. And of course we're all huge Miyazaki fans. But I draw the line at moe romancey stuff like Kimi No Todoke that my wife is trying to get them into. I'll stick to the fantasy romancey stuff in Inuyasha, thank you very much. My older daughter turned 6 last December and is just starting to read in both English and Japanese. I'm really curious to see what manga she gets into. How old were you when you first started reading it? What got you into it? And do you read any from Korea/in Korean?

Makes sense to go to 4 wedges now that you're longer, I think. Having a lot of options from 100 yards in is what it's all about! How much time do you spend practicing with your wedges relative to your woods and irons? What kinds of games do you play to keep yourself focused while practicing those 30-to-100-yard shots?

HY (2/19): Mmm... I think I started getting into anime a few years ago because one of my friends in high school showed me. I've never read any Korean manga, though. Wow your older daughter can read Japanese already?! I can speak Korean well enough but I'm not very good and reading and writing :(

I try to spend an equal amount of time on every area unless I feel I have to focus in on one thing. I get bored easily so I try to mix things up and do different types of drills every day to keep myself competitve and focused during practice. The most important thing in pitching, and ball striking in general, is the strike and distance control so that's what I work on to hone in from 30 to 100 yards. Did I spell that right?

I'll do extra on things if I feel that I'm lacking in that area but I try to even out the time I spend on each part of my game.

TC: Well, she can sound out Japanese, which is a lot easier to do than in English, once you've got the basic hiragana alphabet memorized (she's even got a lot of katakana--mostly used for Japanizations of non-Japanese words--down, which is more than I can say now), because the sounds of the characters hardly ever change. Her vocabulary is pretty decent for someone who only spent 6 months in a Japanese day care center almost 3 years ago now, but we can't wait to get back there for a month or more at a time so she can experience elementary school there and get back in a setting where her friends are using Japanese all the time. She's kind of unilaterally decided that the official language here at home when she plays with her younger sister is English, so neither are speaking all that much Japanese over the course of a day--basically just when they're home with mom and I'm not there.

I'm assuming you grew up hearing a lot of Korean at home and that the Korean/Korean-American communities where you lived in California were large enough that you had friends your age who spoke it, too. Am I right? I'm wondering if there's anything in Korean pop culture today that's drawing kids in America to the Korean language.... What we're finding here in western NY is that there are a small number of American dad-Japanese mom families in Buffalo, but not really a critical mass of kids who have spent time in Japan recently enough for many of them to really get or stay fluent in their once-a-week Japanese class. The interest level in Japanese among the kids is pretty uneven. Miyazaki helps--all the little kids love Ponyo and Totoro, and even the older kids--but the pull of American pop culture and English is super-strong, as you'd expect. Our girls are dual citizens until they hit 21, when they have to choose between the U.S. and Japan (assuming the rules don't change). Do you have dual citizenship? What kind of attachment do you feel to Korean and Korea?

Oh, and by the way, were you all playing in a blizzard on the SunCoast Series this week? Those scores hurt my eyes!

HY (3/6): Sorry, Bruce! For some reason I thought I replied to this and was waiting for the next question.

I grew up speaking Korean with my mom because she didn't used to be very good at English but I don't remember speaking a lot of Korean outside with other kids. In fact, I became closer to other Korean-American kids when I started playing in the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association). I'd say my pronunciation is good but my vocabulary is limited to the basics.

I think Korea is the most popular in all of Asia and is even popular in some parts of the US in the entertainment industry; I know that most people who watch anime also watch Korean dramas. For such a small country Korea has really expanded out into the world, whether it's in business, sports, music, or tv shows.

I was born in San Jose, CA, so I'm a citizen in only the US. We used to go to Korea about once a year when I was little but we haven't been there since I was 10. I'm proud of being Korean and I enjoy listening to Korean music and watching shows online but see myself as an American. There was a big Korean community in San Jose but we moved to San Diego when I was 9 and there weren't that many Koreans there. Then we moved here to Florida when I was 12 so I basically grew up drinking sweet tea haha. This is actually a subject that comes up often between my parents and me because the two cultures are very different and I worry that when other Koreans see me they expect me to follow the Korean culture. Since I grew up here, I'm not comfortable following that although I have an idea on what to do. But at the end of the day, I stand firmly as an American with a proud Korean heritage :).

TC (3/16): No problem, Hannah. Things have gotten crazy on this end, what with New York state politics getting more melodramatic than any J- or K-drama, funding for public higher education becoming even more of a political football than usual, and little ol' me as chair of our University Senate feeling a responsibility to speak up for SUNY. I'm really worried that the state is going to cut us so sharply in the coming years that we'll soon be losing campuses like the LPGA was losing tournaments at the end of the Bivens era.... (Check out this month's posts at Citizen of Somewhere Else if you ever need a reason to get excited again about golf!)

And sorry for the delay on my end--this is the 4th try for getting this email through to your address!

My girls were both born in Dunkirk, NY, but we decided to do the paperwork needed to get them Japanese citizenship. We want them to be equally comfortable in both cultures until they're old enough to decide which country they want to be a citizen of (although why they can't keep dual citizenship their entire lives is beyond me). Now the struggle is as much financial as anything. It's looking very unlikely that we all can afford to go on a summer trip to Japan this year, now that the girls are being charged full fares. Guess who's going to be the odd one out if our tax refund isn't large enough? No fair! (Although the one bright side for me would be that I'd get to start playing golf regularly again, if I were left behind!)

So I'm wondering about a few things now as the Futures Tour kickoff event is about to begin. Obviously, playing golf as your job is a lot different than playing it as an amateur. What have been the biggest differences for you? What would you say you've already learned from/about being a professional golfer? And what are your goals this season on the DFT?

HY: I think it's good to be as knowledgeable as you can about every culture and I don't mean to step out of line but I'm sure your daughters will be thankful to you and your wife as they get older; especially because it's part of their heritage. I've only heard good things about Japan so I do feel bad for least you get to play golf though. Give or take right? :)

It's definitely different playing as a professional than as an amateur. I think the biggest difference is the mindset I have going into a tournament and strategically planning how I want to play the course. Score is always the most important thing but one stroke on the Duramed Futures Tour could be worth hundreds of dollars. My parents have fully supported me throughout my life but I'd like to start being able to take the pressure off them as soon as I can; especially because my dad turned 61 last December and I feel bad for him haha. Plus I'd like to buy my first car this year ^_^. But all joking aside I've realized that I have responsibilities now as a professional golfer so I have to play to the best of my abilities. I also have to play smarter around the course to take as much stress off as possible while giving myself the most opportunities to score. My goal is to always be in contention every week and earn my LPGA Tour card for next year. I learned a lot last year and I'm continually learning but I have much more confidence in my game this year.

Thank you for your time and your patience! I know I took a long time on some questions but thanks for this great opportunity, I had a lot of fun during this experience. If there's anything I can do to help just let me know and I'll be continuing to read your blog! :)

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