This month the GCAA spoke with former NC State golfer Albin Choi, a SwingThought Tour member with two victories early on this season. Choi was three-time GCAA All-American while in college and the ACC Player of the Year in 2013.
GCAA: As a junior playing in Canada how did you decide to attend NC State to study and play collegiately?
CHOI: My first intention was to go south where I could play year round. Being from Toronto I wasn’t able to golf all year long so that was something I wanted to change. There was a huge Canadian pipeline that went through NC State that I wanted to be a part of. I went down to Raleigh for a visit and absolutely loved the atmosphere plus the facilities were amazing. I loved the team and the coaches, so it was an easy decision.
GCAA: You had great success in your time at NC State as a three-time All-American. What was your best experience in your time in college?
CHOI: I loved the team atmosphere. Even though golf is an individual sport, playing for your coaches and your teammates meant a lot to me.
GCAA: You were also able to play for Team Canada during your years at NC State. What did it mean to you to be able to represent your country while playing?
CHOI: It was an honor. I am always proud to wear the maple leaf on my chest! I had and still have a tremendous support team around me that comes from NC State and Golf Canada. It is a relationship that I hope to have throughout my entire career.
GCAA: Were you able to get advice from some of your college teammates or friends on what the transition to professional golf would be like? What advice would you share with those players making that change?
CHOI: Everyone told me that it would be hard and that is what I expected from the get go. I’ve also got a lot of support and encouragement from my peers, which have helped me through some of the transition period. Even though it’s at a different level I always like to think of it the same as I’ve always thought of. My advice would be to not over complicate things. Work hard and keep it simple.
GCAA: Have you found there is a big difference going from a team focused game in college, with individual components, to an individual focus as a professional?
CHOI: I didn’t find a big difference at all. I’ve always played hard whether it was for an individual accomplishment or for a team.
GCAA: What experiences as a student, outside of golf, do you think helped prepare you for life as a professional golfer?
CHOI: As a student, you need to manage your time well. Being organized and self-disciplined as a student has definitely helped me get into great habits as a professional.
GCAA: You are off to an amazing start on the SwingThought Tour, winning the first two Pro Series events of the season. How do you keep the momentum of such a great start going?
CHOI: Routine. Keep the same routine, as I have been keeping, and trying to enjoy myself more than anything. I had such a great time playing the first two events, not because of the wins, but more of a positive outlook on the game.
GCAA: What is the most important thing for you when you practice?
CHOI: Practicing with a purpose. A lot of players tend to get lost (myself being one) when they just practice for the sake of practicing. Always have a goal in mind that you are trying to achieve in your practice session.
GCAA: What do you like to do in your downtime off the course?
CHOI: When it’s my time off I just like to unwind. Just relax at home and catch up with friends and family.
GCAA: Several alumni of the SwingThought Tour have gone onto great success on both the PGA and European Tours. What about the Tour prepares golfers for continued success as they progress through their careers?
CHOI: The tour is run very professionally and being in that environment prepares us for bigger stages. It has a lot of the major components that a player needs to get used to, for example, four round events plus a cut. Not to forget the players on this tour are at a very high level and will be on the PGA TOUR someday. Playing against these guys (of this caliber) has definitely helped improve the level of my game as well.
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