One of the biggest personalities on the LPGA Tour, Tiffany Joh never backs away from a challenge -- including playing on both the Symetra and LPGA tours simultaneously. The two-time Futures Tour winner had her best finish in a major this year, T16 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. She talks time off, staying with host families, and what watching Olympic Golf will mean to her and her sport.
What’s something you were working on in the offseason?
My offseasons are exactly that—just time off. I went to Baja for a surf trip and Costa Rica. It was more just mentally getting away from the game. I took about 3-4 weeks completely away from my clubs.
I think our season is so long, that it really helps to spend a little time away, working on things and fine-tuning your game. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint.
What are you looking forward about next season?
Every year, I love going back to the host families that I stay with during the season. I have a family in Portland I love staying with. Because were away from home so much, it’s fun to have a designated family in each city. I always look forward to going back and spending time with them.
That seems like something a lot of girls do on Tour.
The majority of players like to stay with families. I have some families I have stayed with for five years, ever since my rookie year. Before, you’re emailing ahead of time to tell them when you’re coming, but now I know their garage codes and I’m already lying on their couch watching "Dancing with the Stars" when they come in [laughs].
How can you contribute to the growth of the LPGA, and try to tap into other markets?
Mike Whan, our commissioner, and the entire staff on the LPGA has done such a great job. I think that’s exactly it. Our strength is how many personalities we have on tour. That’s what we need to tap into. I love seeing young girls out here and giving them signed gloves. I think it’s a little difficult because golf is a serious sport and you don’t really get to see the personalities. I am pretty outgoing but on the course you wouldn’t know it because I’m so focused on the next shot.
Outgoing to say the least – we’ve seen your animal onesies!
[Laughs] Yeah! That’s just who I am.
What was it like playing on both the LPGA and Symetra tours?
I think at one point I played 13 straight weeks. That was a little rough, but at the same time it’s such a great learning experience. Especially coming out of college, having to play an event then going to take a final. It’s a good experience to get consecutive weeks under your belt.
In 2010, your best finish was a missed cut. Then in 2011 you had a solo 2nd. What went right?
Golf is just a strange game. You never know when you could have a breakout season. I think that’s why people love it and hate it. There’s no telling what it exactly was. It was a lot of little things like changes in coaching, changes in clubs, who knows. There were 300 things that could’ve changed that.
How excited are you to see golf back in the Olympics?
I’m really excited for the exposure of the game. I have friends who don’t even know what the LPGA is, they call it the LGA. Honestly, if it weren’t for the Olympics I’d never watch curling or any of those sports. I’m just really excited for how much exposure women’s golf is going to get.
The every-day person is going to be able to see LPGA golfers out there. I think the Olympics is good at showcasing the personalities that we have on tour. One of our biggest strengths is how many great characters we have on tour. I’m really excited about that.
Would you rather have a major win, a Solheim Cup, or a gold medal?
Solheim Cup. I’ve watched the Solheim Cup since I started playing golf and love the drama that’s involved. Playing for your country and the whole USA-European rivalry? Solheim Cup, that would be huge.
What will you take away from being on tour?
It’s hard for me to grasp that everyone on tour is a human being. I think when you’re young you put everyone on a pedestal. You never think of the Julie Inksters and the Cristie Kerrs as being people you could potentially hit balls next to on the range. My rookie year, I got paired with Laura Davies at the Portland event. She probably filed a restraining order after we got off the course. [Laughs] I think that’s the biggest takeaway, that golfers are humans too.