Hosung Choi has delighted golf audiences with his unconventional swing, magnificent twirls and mystique. But the 45-year-old South Korean has made it clear through his play: he’s far more than just a viral sensation. Choi won the Japan Golf tour’s Casio Open just two starts ago and hasn’t missed a cut in a stroke-play event since last July.
This week, Choi is teeing it up at the SMBC Singapore Open alongside the likes of Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia. Choi shared 36th place midway through the second round, at which point the tournament was delayed due to weather. He spoke to the Straits Times after the round about the fame of his swing.
View this post on Instagram
Quirky? Yes. But the funny thing about Ho-sung Choi’s swing is that it’s not as weird as it looks. He sets up closed and picks the club straight up the target line, but then shallows it beautifully on the way down. The follow through is bizarre but the ball is long gone by that point; the downswing before it is pure.
“At first when we looked at the replies from fans, a lot of them thought I was doing it on purpose to be funny,” he told the outlet. “But people realized, after I got some results, that I am serious and I am doing it to survive on the Tour and cope with the competition.”
Choi pushed back against the notion that golf swings should match a particular convention; he sees room for creativity and variation.
“It’s not right to have everyone fit into a standard because everyone has a different body type and a different swing that works for them,” he told the Straits Times. “No one has the right answer. There can be many.”
He also pointed out the specific reason for his post-contact pirouette. “I am not as flexible as the young guys, and I can’t really turn my hips very well,” he said. “This way, I get more power and have a lower chance of getting injured.”
Choi’s game has shot him into the top 200 in the world ranking. That, combined with his swing and newfound fame have landed him one particularly remarkable trip next month: to Pebble Beach, where he’ll play in his first PGA Tour event thanks to a sponsor’s exemption.
That’s a long way from the unlikely beginnings of his golf career. GOLF.com’s Alan Bastable detailed Choi’s complete journey last year, which began in a small Korean town and included a series of part-time jobs in construction, mining, and delivering groceries. He worked at a tuna factory as well, where he lost the tip of his thumb in a freak chainsaw accident.
As for his swing? GOLF’s instruction editor, Luke Kerr-Dineen, points out in this frame-by-frame breakdown that it’s fundamentally sound. It’s the followthrough and the showmanship – intentional or not – that sets him apart. “If that makes him feel better, then dance away,” Kerr-Dineen writes. “It doesn’t affect his swing negatively, and the results obviously speak for themselves.”