When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, some teenagers isolated at home and got acclimated to a near fully-virtual lifestyle. But not Brookeville’s Bryan Kim, who was a freshman at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring when schools shut down.
Instead, Kim took to the golf course, where he said he spent nearly every day of his sophomore year playing at Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring.
“Covid was a blessing in disguise for golfers,” Kim said, as he was able to golf while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Golf wasn’t always his sport of choice; Kim also played basketball, soccer and swimming growing up.
But, after being introduced to the sport at 10 by going to golf camp with his older sister, Jean, “golf just kind of clicked,” Kim said.
Kim said he not only loves golf, but “everything that comes along with it,” like the friends and community he’s found through the sport.
All his practice during the pandemic paid off, as Kim won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in Charleston, South Carolina on July 30, granting him an entry into the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, North Carolina from June 13 to 16, 2024.
Kim, who will attend Duke University as a freshman this fall, spent his last summer before college traveling the country and playing tournaments. Kim said he’s only been able to spend about two to three weeks at home.
The 2024 U.S. Open will take place about an hour and a half from Duke’s campus so Kim can get to know the course before the event.
Kim played in two U.S. Junior Amateurs prior to this year’s but had never placed. He said he had a pretty good feeling going into this year’s tournament and stayed focused on his matches at hand.
“I’m still the same old me, I just happened to win the tournament,” Kim said.
He added that he was “pretty locked in” on the green, and his love of golf made the entire experience a lot of fun.
The most nerve-wracking part, he said, wasn’t the golf itself – but the media attention that followed.
“For the interviews on live TV, I got more nervous than when I was actually playing golf, just because it was so unfamiliar to me,” Kim said.
But Kim says he’s grateful for the doors that have opened following the victory and plans to explore Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) opportunities during his time at Duke. NIL refers to a college athlete’s ability to receive financial compensation via marketing and promotion opportunities with businesses, which includes product endorsements, social media posts and autograph signings.
When it came to the recruitment process, Kim said he was equally focused on a school’s golf program and the campus’ overall atmosphere. For him, Duke has a great mix of both.
“I kind of fell in love with [the campus] when I started touring,” Kim said, who is enrolled as an economics major.
Kim has also met many of the players on Duke’s golf team, as they have played in many of the same tournaments as him.
“The guys on the team are super, super cool. So, I’m excited to hang out with them,” he said.
Kim said he has received a lot of support from his community at Argyle Country Club, which he called a very close-knit group of people.
“I got a lot of text messages after I won which is just cool,” Kim said, “I felt really supported by all the members at Argyle… I’ve been there for a while, so we all know each other.”
Now, following his U.S. Junior Amateur victory, Kim is taking things one day at a time, focusing on his upcoming move-in to college.
As for the 2024 U.S. Open, “that one hasn’t really settled in,” he said.