Men’s Golf: Faith boosts Chun’s confidence

Sarah Kuta

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Take a look at one of Eric Chun’s golf balls and you will find a little more than the ordinary grass stain.

Instead, you might find his favorite bible verse.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

For Chun, writing Bible verses on his golf balls is a way to be reminded of his faith at all times, even while dominating his competition.

“I use God as a means of playing good golf,” Chun said. “I used to swear and throw my club, but when I see that reference I know I can’t. It keeps me accountable.”

The freshman, whose Korean name is Jae Han Chun, was born in Korea and moved to Malaysia at age five. At age seven, Chun started following his dad to the driving range and eventually out onto the course. By age 12, Chun was the top-ranked junior player in Malaysia. The family moved to Australia in order for Chun to play at a more competitive level.

In Australia, Chun woke each morning before school to practice. He and his father hit the greens again after school until the sun went down.

“I maybe got to hang out with friends once a month,” Chun said. “Basically all I did was schoolwork, practice, play golf, eat and sleep.”

All that practice paid off when Chun played golf the summer before his senior year in the United States and was recruited by a handful of colleges in the Midwest. Chun chose Northwestern over Michigan and Illinois, among others, because of the support for the golf program by the alumni.

Chun has developed a strong friendship with his roommate and teammate Sam Chien. On Friday nights, the two would rather spend their time practicing. Early Saturday morning, they are up practicing again.

“We kind of work as a team on and off the golf course,” Chien said. “It’s golf. We just feel like doing it because we love it and it’s kind of addicting.”

With his dad as his coach for the majority of his life, making the transition to the coaching style of coach Pat Goss was difficult for both Chun and his father.

“My game has changed a lot and the way I think of golf has changed a lot,” Chun said. “My dad will send me e-mails every now and then about ‘Oh this is what Tiger Woods said.’ Other than that, he’s not so much involved in my game. I think it’s a challenge for him to let his kid depart from him.”

When Chun finished 13th at the U.S. Intercollegiate two weeks ago, Goss wasn’t surprised.

“I have high expectations for him,” he said. “That was just a glimpse of his potential, just an inkling of how good he can be.”

Goss said while he can see Chun’s potential, the one aspect of his game that needs work is his confidence.

“He just needs to pay attention to his successes,” Goss said. “He’s an All-American. He was named to the Big Ten All-tournament team. The physical part of his game is sure there. I’m just not sure if he can see that.”

Chun said he knew that keeping such a strong faith in college would be another difficult transition. He was surprised when his high school mentor told him that only a small percentage of college students finish school as Christians. Because of this small number, Chun decided to join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“I know a group of guys there who keep me accountable for my actions,” Chun said. “We have Bible study once a week. Just surrounding myself with guys who share my faith helps me to stay strong.”

Chun said his teammates define him as a “really into it Christian” and sometimes use his faith to joke around with him.

“They may make fun of me for it, but at the same time they respect it a lot,” Chun said.

By turning his life over to God, Chun has discovered that there are some parts of golf and life that he cannot control. And he’s okay with that.

“I don’t care what You do, just be glorified and if I can do anything to do that I will,” Chun said. “That puts a lot of pressure off life and golf. I get stressed, but it doesn’t get to me.”

sarahkuta2012@u.northwestern.edu

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