Taichi Kho has managed what many young Hongkongers can only dream of – he has maintained his status as one of Hong Kong’s top sporting prospects while scoring a cool 43 points on his IB Diploma. The road to success was not easy for the 17-year-old golfer, though, who had to work harder than he has ever done before.
“There were countless nights of catching up with schoolwork, before waking up at 6am the next morning to get back out to the golf course for a tournament,” explained the recently graduated Discovery College student. “It was never easy, but I learned to [balance] my time in a way that prioritised my studies, while also [allowing time] for me to improve my golf.”
His efforts have earned him a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame in the US – one of the best athletic and academic schools in the world – where Taichi will study business.
Taichi plans to put much of his effort into becoming the first man from Hong Kong to make the PGA Tour – a professional golf tournament played mainly by men in the US and Canada.
“That’s been a goal ever since I started playing – to become a professional golfer on the tour,” he said.
Taichi’s career is, already, an impressive one. The half-Japanese, half-Chinese golfing sensation topped a division of the Hong Kong Professional Golfers’ Association in January, and qualified for last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open as the youngest male player in the tournament. In both tournaments, Taichi said that his dad served as his caddy.
“He has been by with me through the highs and the lows,” Taichi said of his father, who introduced him to the sport on a family holiday when he was five. “Performing at such a high level in front of him made me very proud of the work I’ve put in over the past few years.”
Taichi’s more recent achievements include winning the Hong Kong Junior Close Championship in April by an impressive 19 strokes, showing just how far ahead he is of his fellow junior Hong Kong golfers.
It hasn’t, however, been an easy journey for Taichi, who has had to overcome both physical and mental hurdles to get where he is today.
Taichi has a skinny frame, which means he lacks the power to drive the ball as far as some other golfers. “I don’t hit [the ball] very far,” Taichi admitted. “I perform well by playing to my strengths, which are to use approach shots and my short game.”
Taichi added that he has also struggled with the mental part of the game.
“I’ve always had solid, all-round technique, but I’ve struggled with my mental game. I often get easily frustrated after a bad shot or round.”
The golfer said he now tries to turn that uncertainty and frustration – aspects of the sport he’s said he most hates – into something that is a part of the sport he most likes.
“Anything can happen in golf,” Taichi said. “The uncertainty is something a lot of people are afraid of, but now I find it best to embrace [it] and enjoy the challenge each shot brings.”
His advice to young golfers is to compare their golfing career to writing or reading a novel. “It’s not a sprint to the finish line, it’s a long marathon,” Taichi said. “Think of each tournament as a page of a book that records the entirety of your career. It’s all about heading down the right direction to achieve your ultimate goal, whatever that may be.”
Do you have any pre-match superstitions?
I use a two dollar coin as a marker for tournaments!
If you were to describe yourself as an animal while playing your sport, what would it be? ?
Probably a dragon if that counts as an animal. I was born in the year of the dragon, have the character of the dragon in my name, and I have a dragon head cover for my driver!
What do you eat before a match?
Energy bars, a sandwich, fruit… anything that’s quick and nutritious.