Danielle Kang has long been one of the most talented American women on the LPGA Tour. The 29-year-old famously won back-to-back U.S. Amateurs, and tuned pro only five years after taking up the game for the first time.
Kang has won a total of five times on the LPGA Tour since 2017 — including a major. But after joining the Tour in 2012, winning was more difficult than she anticipated. On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Kang, appearing alongside her coach, Butch Harmon, explained how she discovered what her game was lacking after going pro.
“When I turned pro, I had only played golf for five years at that point. So I thought I knew everything. My game was too immature,” Kang said.
“How could I have possibly thought, think, I could win a tournament, or a major championship, when I’ve only played golf for five years?” Kang continued. “I don’t have the techniques. My game is nowhere near maturity. If I did, it was out of fearlessness.”
Kang said that a lot of her early success as an amateur was a result of her confidence and self-belief, as opposed to superior skill.
“Even if I succeeded as a 13-year-old or 14-year-old, I had no foundation,” Kang said. “I just happened to be good at something. I just happened to win, I happened to qualify. But I can keep happening to do that — and let’s say I came out on Tour and I won the first major, and I keep doing this — that doesn’t mean I have good foundation. I might be able to run away with it, and build foundation while I do it, but I ended up not doing that. I ended up crumbling, because I had no foundation.
“So that took me years to build,” she continued. “Whether it’s to figure out what kind of techniques I needed, what kind of shots I needed. It’s like having the tools. You always say I have to have a toolkit. And there’s shots that I didn’t have that I had to learn. The low spinners, I didn’t have those. I have them now. I’m never afraid of missing greens, because I have them.”
For more from Kang, including how Butch helped Kang beat the driver yips, check out the full interview below.