Junior Joelle Kim became the first Menlo girls’ golf team member to shoot a hole-in-one in early October. Kim’s impressive achievement did not come without years of practice. She has been playing golf for nearly nine years since her father introduced her to the sport by bringing her along to her brother’s practices at Saratoga Country Club. From then on, Kim played golf recreationally while pursuing lacrosse as her main sport.
When the pandemic limited her lacrosse career, Saratoga Country Club became a port in the storm for Kim. “I didn’t really have anything else to do, and since [the course] is outside with very minimal contact, you’re just able to go out,” Kim said. “That’s how I started, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
With a newfound love for the sport, Kim joined Menlo girls’ golf as a freshman, and her positive experience has brought her back year after year. On the golf team, Kim has had the opportunity to make connections with other students. “We go to team dinners after matches and bond during the van rides,” she said. “I just like being able to talk to different people in different grades and have a common interest.”
Kim looks to pass on the positive experience she’s had on the golf team to new members. “Joelle and the upperclassmen are all so nice, and they help you out with your swing,” sophomore Paige Halligan said. “They’re very supportive.”
The golf team has been more than just a social endeavor, however. Kim has practiced hours upon hours with her swing coach and independently qualified for the Central Coast Section championships in her freshman and sophomore years. In 2022, she was a semifinalist in the historical San Francisco City Golf Championship, a tournament that has been the starting place for many professional golfers.
This season, she is performing well and hoping to qualify for CCS again. Kim’s hole-in-one on the seventh hole of the Palo Alto Hills golf course was just another step on this journey.
“Her future in golf is very bright,” Head Coach Mark Madayag said. Madayag has coached at Menlo for five years and is a Class A Professional Golfers’ Association of America member. “She has the skill set to be competitive in college golf and beyond.”
Both Madayag and Assistant Coach Francis Santora think that Kim is a great student-athlete and person to be around. “Dedication is something that lives in each of us that comes out in different ways in our lives,” Santora said. “For Joelle, it is clear that she has a passion for golf and that her dedication has found a home in the game.”
Kim’s success has earned her Division I interest. Now, with several visits scheduled, Kim begins the search for the right collegiate athletic experience. “In a school, I look for really good team chemistry and support,” Kim said. “And then a coach that’s understanding and makes practice fun and enjoyable.”
Kim wants the experience of being a collegiate athlete even though she isn’t looking to play professionally. This desire comes from her experience being a student-athlete at Menlo. “[I love] having a set group of girls that you’re really close to, and then also playing, of course,” Kim said. “I want to keep experiencing that, so pursuing golf at a collegiate level seems like the right choice for me.”