Before she became a two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion and one of the greatest players of her era, Inbee Park spent her teenage years as a star student-athlete at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, where she won the individual state championship twice and helped her school to four straight state titles, from 2003-06. Originally from Korea, Park, who had already won the 2002 U.S. Girls’ Junior before she started high school, shared some memories from her time in the Silver State.
What were your memories of arriving in Las Vegas from Korea, and the first few weeks or months?
When I first arrived, I was really surprised about how many great golf courses there were. Thinking that it was desert, we thought there wouldn’t be many. With the dry conditions, the balls were flying a bit farther than usual, so I had to make that adjustment.
How were the conditions in Nevada different from what you were used to at home?
The conditions in Las Vegas were great. It is challenging sometimes, since when you are off the fairway, your ball may end up in the desert, so on some golf courses I had to use an extra worn-out wedge to hit from there.
Which golf courses in the Las Vegas area are your favorites? Which did you practice and compete on most frequently?
I spent most of the time at TPC Summerlin. The course is always in great condition, which makes it a great place to prepare for competition. The Summit (in Las Vegas) and Cascata (in Boulder City) are also great courses.
Talk a little bit about the competition within the state during your high school years.
Bishop Gorman High School was known for having great sports teams, so I really wanted to make the golf team better and wanted to contribute. Our team won the state championship for four consecutive years. We had the best team! I had a great time competing with players in town and all over the state. Just building friendships. It was a little more relaxing than other competitions I was playing in back then, which I really enjoyed. That’s something you need when you are growing up, something fun and friendships to build.
Outside of golf, what were your high school years like in Las Vegas?
I lived in the Summerlin area during most of my time in Las Vegas. I had so many great friends and people around me, so my high school years were so great. It was a good combination between being a golfer and a normal high school student. I got to enjoy both.
What were some positives about the warm climate there? How about the negatives?
It is so nice to be in a warm climate as a golfer, and it is always a positive to hit it a bit farther, and no rain is always good news. The downside is sometimes it gets way too hot to play golf, especially in the summer with the desert heat. But other than that it’s great.
Why is Nevada a great state for golf, and a great place to develop as a golfer?
Nevada is a great state for golf because of the warm climate all year around, its many championship golf courses, and there a lot of tour players who live there to hang out with. And finally, Nevada has good food, and a lot to see outside of golf!