As a globe-trotting LPGA Tour professional, Chella Choi is living the wanderlust dream. “I really love being a professional golfer” said Choi, who spent her 5-week offseason working as a teaching assistant. She will graduate from Korea University with a degree in Education later this month but she didn’t seem too disappointed when she realized that her graduation ceremony was scheduled to be the same week as the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament. “I’m really sad and maybe I’ll decide to go but I already have a great job! It’s really exciting, I get to travel to great places and I enjoy the food there.”
Choi, a 27-year-old from Seoul, Korea, turned professional in 2008 and she hasn’t looked back since. “I’m not like most Koreans- I don’t really crave Korean food while I’m out here on Tour. It just doesn’t taste the same,” she said. Instead, Choi eagerly looks forward to returning to her top travel destinations this season to savor the local cuisine. “I like traveling to Australia, Singapore and Thailand, my favorite, because the food is the best,” she said.
When she’s not busy competing in tournaments or working hard on the practice range, Choi is securing her ‘go-to’ dinner spots on the road. “When we travel to Adelaide, there’s a really delicious burger place. In Arizona- a steakhouse. When you’re in Portland, you have to get lobster.” How does she find these places? “I always ask volunteers for local food suggestions, or I use Yelp.”
Social customs in Korea dictate that one person pays for the meal, which is unlike the ‘going Dutch’ custom of most Americans. “Dutch pay is still really awkward and uncomfortable for me” said Choi, who each year treats LPGA players and staff to a Korean-style barbeque during the buildup to the Hana Bank Championship. She plans to carry on that tradition this October for the eighth year running. “I wish I could take everyone out in the States so more (staff) can come but Korea has the best food.”
When asked about her other outside-of-golf interests, Choi laughed: “My hobby is eating.” When she’s at home in Jacksonville and her mother isn’t cooking during off weeks, you can find her chowing down pasta. “I really like Cheesecake Factory,” she said, “They have everything I want. From appetizer to desserts, even down to the wines, I like it all.”