As seen in the February 2018 issue of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine
by Brad Ziemer
After a trial separation, Christine Wong and golf have fallen in love again.
Whether they live happily ever after remains to be seen, but Wong is determined to make things work. After all, not so long ago the two seemed to have some real chemistry.
Wong, a 26-year-old Richmond, B.C. resident, had a stellar junior, amateur and collegiate career. She won two BC Women’s Amateur championships and added four individual titles in her four years at San Diego State University.
She made the cut and finished tied for 55th at the U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur in 2010 and later that year was named the PNGA Women’s Player of the Year.
Wong turned pro after graduating from San Diego State in 2013 and played the Symetra Tour in 2014. Other than a hole-in-one in her second event, not much went right for Wong as a pro. She made just one cut – and $421 in official money – in nine Symetra Tour starts.
“I was a little overwhelmed when I turned pro,” Wong says. “Rather than having teammates and a whole support team, you are out there by yourself. It was very stressful and after that I felt like I needed to take a break and figure out what I really wanted to do.”
And what she wants to do is play more golf. Wong has dedicated 2018 to getting back on tour. She started doing some teaching last spring at the Pacific Golf Academy in Richmond and says her work with some kids this summer is what in part inspired her to make a comeback.
“I did playing lessons and caddied for some kids at tournaments this summer and it gave me a new outlook,” Wong says. “I felt driven again, like I really wanted to play. I have been striking the ball better than I was three years ago and I feel like I have this new confidence.
“It’s one of those things you don’t want to regret not doing. I was always thinking about it. Any time anyone brought up something about golf or something I had done in the past, I was like, oh, I miss that. So I want to give it another shot. If I fail, if it doesn’t work out, that’s fine. At least I am trying again.”
Wong and her younger sister Stephanie – now an assistant pro at Point Grey Golf & Country Club in Vancouver – grew up playing together. Their instructor during their junior days was former LPGA Tour winner and fellow Richmond resident Jennifer Wyatt, who was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame of BC in 2015 and now teaches out of the Savage Creek Driving Range in Richmond.
Wyatt and Wong met over coffee recently to discuss Wong’s plans. Wyatt told Wong that it’s important that she keep golf fun.
“I think she just has to be herself and not look around too much,” Wyatt says. “I wish I had done more of that. I seemed to have better luck and better success when I just did my own thing. And part of being herself for Christine is having fun. She had a lot of success when she had fun.”
Right now, Wong has her plate full. In addition to teaching, she works full time for the provincial sports federation, Sport BC, as an executive assistant.
She plans to keep working through the winter and begin playing some tournament golf this spring. She will tee it up in some Vancouver Golf Tour events and as a member of the PGA of BC is also eligible to play on its Srixon Tour.
Wong’s goal is to attend the first stage of the LPGA Tour qualifying school late next summer.
She will pay particular attention to the mental side of the game, which she says let her down in her first go-round as a pro.
“It was definitely the whole mental side of the game,” Wong says. “I knew I had the game. But when you are not playing well and you are mentally exhausted it just seems like you are doing it to do it. Now I feel like I have a purpose and I am way more driven. It makes me really excited for the year to come.”
Wong, who spent five years as a member of Golf Canada’s national teams, acknowledges she has been partly motivated by the fact so many of her former teammates and friends are still pursuing their golf dreams.
“Brooke Henderson and I roomed together,” Wong says. “So many of the girls I played with on the national team are all continuing to play so that excites me as well. They are all out there and I know I can be out there as well.”
Wong has started a GoFundMe page to help fund her journey. For more information, visit gofundme.com/christinewonggolf.
Brad Ziemer had a 30-year career at the Vancouver Sun newspaper as an editor and sports writer. In 2013, Golf Canada presented him with its Distinguished Service Award.