Michelle Kim has provided a strong cornerstone for the Idaho womenâ€™s golf program during her freshman season with the team.
Kim joined the squad as the No. 1 junior golfer in Canada and ended her first year as the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year.
â€œSheâ€™s been extremely steady and sheâ€™s a solid ball-striker and a great putter,â€ Idaho head coach Lisa Johnson said. â€œSheâ€™s very even emotionally on the golf course, and all of that has translated into good play this year.â€
Kim said she was prepared for the jump from junior golf to the NCAA because of her strong performances during her senior year of high school.
â€œItâ€™s always a big step to go to the next level,â€ Johnson said. â€œBut her teammates really helped out with that and helped ease her mind when she came to college and helped show her the ropes.â€
Kim said the inviting atmosphere of Moscow and the chemistry with her teammates have allowed her to grow during the transition to collegiate golf.
Johnson said Kim has helped strengthen the teamâ€™s overall dynamic.
â€œShe fits in with the team very well,â€ Johnson said. â€œSheâ€™s very positive and sheâ€™s an extremely hard worker, so she leads by example.â€
Johnson said Kimâ€™s short game has greatly improved over the course of the year. She said one aspect the freshman has struggled with is distance.
â€œThe things that I always stress with Michelle â€” and that I really hope sheâ€™ll continue to work on as she gets older â€” is playing her own game and playing within herself to get rid of all that noise,â€ Johnson said. â€œThe more she can believe in herself and trust in herself, the better sheâ€™ll score as she gets further into college.â€
Kim said training with the Vandal program will allow her to reach her personal goals, which include earning an individual title and her pursuit of a professional career.
â€œIâ€™m slowly starting to experience a higher level of competition for sure,â€ Kim said. â€œI feel like college golf is slowly helping me prepare for the professional life that I want to go into after I graduate.â€
Johnson said the freshman has the talent and potential for a professional career.
â€œYou have to be extremely confident in your game and have a very strong technical game, but you have to put in lots and lots of hours of practice,â€ Johnson said. â€œMichelle is a hard worker, but in a college environment itâ€™s not as easy to practice as much as you do once you get into the professional level.â€
Johnson said Kimâ€™s experience as a member of the Canadian National Womenâ€™s Golf team provides the freshman with a new realm of coaching guidance.
â€œShe has a national team coach and they go to training camps in the South for the winter and theyâ€™re required to play in certain events, so she gets a whole new level of coaching,â€ Johnson said. â€œSheâ€™s a very coachable person and sheâ€™s very good at filtering what she likes from all of her coaches, which is the sign of a good athlete.â€
Kim said she hopes to improve herself as an individual during the remaining three years of collegiate competition.
â€œI really want to use these next three years to help me prepare for turning professional,â€ Kim said. â€œI know the University of Idaho womenâ€™s golf program can help me get there.â€
Mihaela Karst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org