NCGA Golf

Spring 2018

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million winner's check, too. That explains why he declined the direct-deposit option afforded to members of the PGA Tour. "I didn't just want some imaginary number to wind up in my bank account," he says. So when his check arrived, Hahn took a picture with it. Then he stuffed it into the glove compartment of his 2013 Hyundai Genesis and forgot about it for more than a week. "I had a million dollars sitting in my $10,000 car," he says. "Who does that?" Apparently, James Hahn, that's who. His story is that of the American Dream. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Hahn's family moved to the Bay Area when he was 2 years old. His father leased the driving range at Galbraith Golf Course from the city of Oakland (the facility later was renovated by Johnny Miller and is now called Metropolitan Golf Links). "That's where I started to learn golf when I was four years old,"says Hahn, who also honed his game at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex as a kid. "It was kind of a ritual for my older brother, Tom, and I to go from school to the golf course and putt and chip and then we'd pick up the balls, go home as a family and have dinner and do homework and then do it all again the next day." That rinse-and-repeat lifestyle of practicing amid vistas of the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, the Oakland hills and the Peninsula is where Hahn developed his homespun swing through hours of trial and error and competing in NCGA junior and amateur tournaments. His most memorable moment from his NCGA days? As a high-school senior, Hahn knocked off NCGA legend Gary Vanier in the Round of 16 of the San Francisco City Championship at TPC Harding Park. "That was the moment where I knew that I had some game," Hahn says. At Cal, Hahn underachieved and he skipped his senior cam- paign to concentrate on his studies. Hahn turned pro in 2003, and played in three mini-tour events and missed the cut in all of them. He was broke. With his sputtering career on hold, he was a realtor, a mortgage broker, and assistant account executive at an advertis- ing agency. He did that for a year, but when he didn't get a promo- tion he quit. "I decided that was the world telling me to go try and play golf again," he says. To make ends meet, Hahn worked at the women's shoe depart- ment at a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek and Pleasanton. He 24 SPRING 2018 | NCGA.ORG (Clockwise) Hahn at age 4 with his father putting; Hahn getting a lesson from older brother, Tom, in 1985; Hahn with trophy from 1989 Green Valley Junior; Hahn with Johnny Miller; Hahn (with tongue sticking out) and brother holding trophies from 1992 JGANC Championship; Hahn and brother at the 1994 JGANC Tournament; Hahn holding first-place trophy from 1995 JGANC Tournament; Hahn after reaching the quarterfinals of the 1998 AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic. COURTESY JAMES HAHN

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