The Kia Classic marks In-Kyung Kim’s second start of 2019, as the 30-year-old from the Republic of Korea extended her off-season in order to put in some work on her game and get healthy.
In 2018, the major champion dealt with back injuries and played a limited schedule following the AIG Women’s British Open. During the second half of the season Kim competed in just three LPGA events, which included helping her team to victory at the UL International Crown.
At the end of the year, Kim was exhausted. She needed extra time to work on her game and to refresh both mentally and physically for 2019.
“I’m very lucky with my whole career I didn’t have very significant injuries,” said Kim. “I’m just happy I have a good support system, and I’m working with my people to recover from it, so I’m all good.”
Kim has an intimate support team of five individuals, many of whom she’s relied on for more than a decade.
“I talk to them almost every day. I have a mental coach, my swing coach, a mentor, I have a physical trainer and a nutritionist who is very important,” shared Kim. “They are experts of what they do, and for me, in golf, you really have to be overall prepared.”
Robert Yang, Kim’s nutritionist and trainer, has a master’s degree in human nutrition and has been on Kim’s team for many years. He specializes in nutrition, sports performance and lifestyle coaching.
“Robert helps me with nutrition, hormones, taking the right vitamins and drinking enough mineral water. It can be very elementary or basic, but that’s something I always check before I talk to my mental coach. I have a good team that helps me, and they communicate with each other.”
Working with a team helps keep Kim healthy and in tune with her body, which enables her to focus on improving her performance on and off the course.
In January of 2018, Kim’s golf clubs were lost after the season-opening event in the Bahamas. It was one year ago this week, at the 2018 Kia Classic, that Kim recovered her missing equipment. She laughed and admitted it might have had a little to do with her late return this season.
“I worried about it before,” Kim said about the idea of losing her clubs again. “But it’s a good thing now. I know how to check where my clubs are and things can happen, so I have back-ups and that taught me a lot.”
Starting the year in Phoenix gave Kim additional time to test out not only her new equipment but also put in some work with her new caddie ahead of the first major of the season. She wants to be prepared heading into the ANA Inspiration.
“I’m not using any of my old clubs, even my balls are new Titleist Pro V1, and my whole clubs are new clubs.
“It took a while [to adjust] because I play with different clubs. I’m not with one company anymore,” said Kim. “It takes a little more time than for other people, but at the same time when I get it, it’s great, so that’s what I’m doing.”
There hasn’t been one specific ah-ha club for Kim; she admits every club seems to be an ah-ha club these days.
“Last year, I had a very difficult time. I never got used to the clubs. This winter, I had extra time to test out and find out whether I absolutely love it instead or if I just liked it. I absolutely love every club now, so it’s just exciting.”
While Kim has spent a good part of the off-season working on her game, reconnecting with family and testing new equipment, she’s also worked on her mental health by attending the School of Life Conference earlier in the year.
“I’m interested in learning about different things, and also I like to go to places where other people go, not only my group of people,” Kim said about The School of Life.
She follows the group on YouTube and via their website. She has always been interested in attending their conference, but she never found the time until she saw they were going to be in nearby Los Angeles, which would allow her to participate.
“It gives you different perspectives. It’s not who's right or wrong, but because we are living in a diverse culture,” Kim said. “I think it helped me understand a little bit more about the whole world and how we have our own stories and different families, but at the same time we are human, and we are here for reasons.
“They were talking about the meaning of life, which is for all of us to think about, not every day but it’s a good question to ask.”
Kim admits she had doubts about attending the conference and confessed it was a big step for her. She’s always seen herself as someone willing to challenge herself, but lately found she had stopped taking risks.
“I stopped doing that for a while, and that worried me too,” said Kim. “Like why am I not going out? Why am I not putting myself out and not be open to other people and other ideas? I think that was a big step for me just going there.”
Attending the conference forced Kim to evaluate her own life and she realized an important lesson.
“What’s important in life is not very expensive. It’s not about how much it is, but notice what is valuable for each one of us and trust that instead of following someone else’s value.
“I think we all want to have a more fulfilling life and understand each other and have better relationships. Anyone looking for that, I think it’s a great place to start, and obviously, we’ve got to work at it.”