Christina Kim exclusive
CHRISTINA KIM is one of the most recognised players on the planet. She is also one of the most vocal, whether it is a running commentary of her efforts on the course or her very regular, always interesting, occasionally controversial Twitter updates off it. Kim is also a fashionista, lover of photography and, now, an author.
Kim got together with Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck to produce ‘Swinging From My Heels: Confessions of an LPGA Star.’
The attraction to Shipnuck, who also wrote the bestseller ‘Bud, Sweat and Tees’ about Rich Beem, was two-fold. Nobody had ever properly delved into the world of the ladies’ game and he would only do it if Kim was interested.
“Alan just came to me with the idea. He was keen to do one on the LPGA as there are so many misconceived notions about it and stuff that people don’t know about us,” said the 26-year-old.
“He wanted to bring some truth to the tour so he asked me over a nice steak. “I would call Alan and we would talk for hours and hours. He would type it up and I’d make adjustments. Alan did an incredible job in putting my voice to it, I can’t even do that on my blog. It was fantastic.”
A year in Kim’s heels is never going to be boring but when you go through seven caddies (one being her father), break up with a boyfriend, contend in two Majors, pose semi-nude for a magazine and speak out on taboo subjects – such as curiosity about the sexuality of the players – you have the recipe for a very untypical sporting read.
“I have always been honest. If I have an opinion I will voice it. I have got a lot of friends and a lot of people I respect and I don’t have a lot of time for negativity. About 40 players have read the book so far and I have had nothing but positive feedback.
“A huge compliment came from Wendy Ward. Her parents are a bit more conservative than some but her mother said the honesty and rawness was refreshing. I just felt bad that I had used some bad language.”
Needless to say some of the headlines, following the release of the book, were grabbed by Kim tackling, head on, the subject of lesbianism on the LPGA Tour.
“I don’t name names. I know a lot of people in life, not just golf, who have alternative lifestyles. Everyone is allowed to have their own preference and as long as you find love with someone that’s all that really matters. None of the players have even mentioned it, we’re just like ‘whatever’,” says Kim, pictured below with Usain Bolt.
have always been honest. If I have an opinion I will voice it. I have got a lot of friends and a lot of people I respect and I don’t have a lot of time for negativity. Like any male I press on, imagine Hugh Grant at his bumbling worst.
“The misconception is that…err…” is all I can offer.
“Is that everybody is, I know. And we know better than that and I touch on that just to give an honest outlook on that. Contrary to what many people think we are not the Lesbians Playing Golf Association. By my count there are no more than two dozen gay women on tour right now.
“Considering there are 230 members you’re only talking about 10 per cent which, from everything I’ve read, is in line with the population as a whole.”
“You also say that there is a lot of talk about sex in between shots,” I ask as casually, and uncomfortably, as is possible.
“We’re human!” Cue shrieks of laughter. “We’re just normal people, we just play golf at a high level so think about how much you and your friends talk about it.”
Other than two winning Solheim Cup appearances Kim is best known over here for her tie for third at the 2009 Women’s British Open. The American’s reaction, applauding playing partner Catriona Matthew down the final fairway, was one of the moments of the year. Given it was the closest she has come, so far, to winning a Major it is no surprise that the experience is one of her favourite stories from the book.
“I’ve done quite a few book signings and the British one is one of my favourites – what it felt like to almost win a Major, what I was going through and how proud I was to be there as Catriona won.
“The Solheim at Rich Harvest Frams was also very special, not just because we won but to give an open look into what it was like. There was a fence where we were staying on site that was 10 foot high so the book gave a bit of a look into what was going on.”
From the outside looking in it might appear that Kim’s constant chatter, booty-shaking and high-fiving, of partners and fans alike, might be irritating after a short while but ask her opponents and they will tell you that Kim is more complimentary than anyone.
There is a fine line in the pressure cooker of a Solheim but Kim is yet to cross it. And she’s the first to party with the Europeans.
“The Europeans always have fantastic parties. Our bus came for us at 1am in 2009 but we could hear music and laughing so I ended with the Euros for a few hours. I spotted Tania Elosegui – 12 hours earlier we’d gone down the last, now we were dancing and having so much fun.”
Kim has a serious side too. Having joined the LPGA Tour in 2003, won an event in 2004 and another in 2005, when she made her Solheim debut, no victories have followed.
“I thought I was going to come out and splash upon the scene like Paula has and Lorena Ochoa did. I thought I’d be in a much more different place in terms of wins. But my career is just building up – the best is yet to come.”
With my questions answered it’s on with the shades – a choice of two pairs perched on her hat – one final trademark guffaw and off for a quiet night, in the loosest possible sense.