The Young “Gunn” – Q&A with Gunn Charoenkul
Gunn Charoenkul, a 21 year-old Thai professional golfer who won last year on the Challenge tour and won 2 times along with 5 runner-ups this year on the TPGA tour about his passion for the sport and the secret to his success.
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1. When did you take up golf and how? Why not other sports?
It all started when my Dad bought me a set of plastic golf clubs for my fifth birthday but I never really took it seriously until I was seven. Then He bought me another set of golf club, this time a graphite and I competed against other schools and I was thinking about quitting at the age of about 10 because I was playing quite well and it was kind of easy. However, there is so much more about golf than what you’re seeing out there and that’s why I continued playing until now. Golf is a unique in a way that you need to be honest. It’s an individual sport. You’re the one who produces the result. Unlike other team sports like soccer, you have to depend on your team mates as well.
2. How many tournaments did you win? What were they?
I won two tournaments this year. First was the Singha E-san Open in July and the recent one was Sir James Classic which was a month ago.
3. How did you feel after winning your first event as a pro?
My first win as a pro was last year. It was a challenge tour, a smaller tour. I got pretty excited the last three holes. I had a five stroke lead but ended up winning with only one stroke. I double-bogeyed the last two holes. To be honest, I didn’t expect that my first win was going to come this fast.
4. Why did you make the decision to turn pro at a very young age?
I turned pro at 19 and I don’t think 19 is considered as a young age anymore. There are a lot of younger professionals out there. Some turned pro when they were 15 or 16. And I turned pro because after graduating from my High school there was nothing much to achieve in amateur golf especially if you are playing in Thailand. There are not many big tournaments. So I moved forward and turned professional.
5. What is your practice schedule?
Normal schedule for me when I don’t have classes. In the morning at 5.30 am, I jog for 5 kilometres. Then I go to the golf course to practise my short game until noon. Then have lunch. Then practise my driving for two to three hours. Then I head to the gym and stay there until about 7 pm. And that’s the whole day of golf for me. Every single day.
6. What do you do before the you play in a tournament? What is your pre-round preparation?
Normally I get a head start of two days of practice. Nine holes a day, I don’t won’t to stress out my body before the tournament. And practise my mental routine, I went to a psychologist about a week before I won the Sir James Classic. We had this drill of breathing. I would count 4 seconds during breathing in and 8 seconds during breathing out and I think that helped me a lot when I’m nervous
7. You are a third year student at Bangkok university (international programme) and also a successful professional golfer. How do you juggle your time between golf and studying?
Well, you can’t say I’m not successful yet. There’s still a long way to go. I have some really good friends back at Bangkok university. They really help out with my assignments and it really depends a lot on what kind of professors you are going to get in your university. Some teachers stay in their on bubbles and they don’t won’t to open up and understand the life of an athlete who is trying to achieve academically and being a successful athlete at the same time. So it depends on your luck what kind of professor you are going to get. Golf consumes a lot of time especially when you are competing. In a tournament it takes about a week. So it really takes time off your study. So you got to really manage your time.
8. You don’t have a golf coach?
During the past thirteen years of playing golf I had a total of eleven coaches. But during the past few years I got bored of changing my swing all the time so I decided to look up on youtube instead. I said to myself, I’m going to change my swing from now. Actually I’ve been looking for a coach during the past two years too but there’s no one that really caught my eye. So I decided to coach myself instead.
9. One short question. How did you become so good?
I think persistent is the key to getting myself this far. Even though you have the talent or the gift, it doesn’t mean you are going to be successful.
10. Do you think fitness has an impact on your golf game? How?
It does have a lot of impact on my golf game. Golf now is more like a power game. Unlike back in the days when it was more about precision and shot making. You can be mentally tough but it won’t help. I think strengthening my body and being well-prepared has a lot of impact on my game.
11. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
It varies throughout the tournaments. I’m not that consistent to know that I have specific weaknesses and strengths. But right now, I think my strength is my putting. I’ve been putting really well since I turned professional. And my weakness is my short game especially my chipping and pitching. I find it difficult to get up-and-downs from within 100 yards.
12. You said you have a mental coach. Can you talk a little bit about that?
You can’t really say it’s a mental coach. I went to her for the first time and she let me talk about my golf game and how I was thinking. She then gave me a mental drill that I mentioned before. Breathing in 4 seconds and breathing out 8 seconds before I go to sleep every night. It’s more like a mental routine when I’m nervous so, I don’t get as nervous when I have to make an important shot.
13. At the age of 21 and you are already a champion in the international field, how do you feel about that?
I feel like I still have a long way to go. This is probably just the beginning. It’s a good step since I turned professional. I think I have to work harder and there is a lot more to achieve in the golf world out there.
14. What is your ultimate goal? .
Every professional golfer’s dream is being in the PGA tour. It’s the biggest tour out there. Ofcourse my dream is being on the PGA tour as well but I also want to win the majors especially The Masters. The Masters has a lot of history and it makes it really special. So yeah, I really want to win The Masters and have my own grand slam. I think that would make it really special for me.
WHAT’S INSIDE MY BAG
Driver …………………280 yards
2-hybrid (20 ํ)……….230 yards
GW(52 ํ)………………120 yards
SW(56 ํ)……………….105 yards
LW(58 ํ)……………….100 yards