The National Journal Presents

Life on Tour with Su Oh

From honing her skills on the windswept courses of Melbourne's famed Sandbelt to representing Australia at the Rio Olympics, Su Oh has navigated the challenges and triumphs of life as a globe-trotting golfer with equal parts determination and grace.

Featuring responses from Su Oh. Edited by William Watt.

The Interview

In this candid conversation, we delve into Oh’s unconventional path to success, her thoughts on the demanding lifestyle of professional golf, cherished memories from her Olympic experience, and the courses that top her golfing bucket list. Oh’s down-to-earth personality shines through as she shares insights into the lessons learned from her diverse golfing education and how she finds balance amidst the nonstop grind of tour life.

The National Journal: Growing up, you had a blend of Korean and Australian golf influences. How do you think that shaped your game and path to the LPGA Tour?

Su Oh: I never actually played golf in Korea in my early years – I started when we moved here to Australia. Growing up in Melbourne, it can definitely get windy, so I feel pretty comfortable playing in those conditions compared to some people who maybe haven’t experienced that as much, especially down at the National. It’s always breezy there, so you get to practice all kinds of shots – uphill, downhill, into the wind, downwind, left-to-right… I think that’s definitely played a big role in my development, for sure. 

Long Island was actually my first club, where I became a member at nine years old. It’s quite funny – back then, most of the Sandbelt clubs didn’t allow girls under 12 to join, but Long Island was really the only one that had a position for juniors like me. So I played a lot of my early golf there, even some pennant golf. I still remember, the 8th hole used to have this really narrow, crested fairway… you had to hit it just perfect, or you’d end up in the rough. Undulating greens, quick putts, run-offs – it kind of had everything. It was a great place to learn the game and it certainly wasn’t boring!

TNJ: There’s another Sandbelt connection with architecture firm OCM currently working on a redesign of Long Island. You’ve seen some of their other work first hand, right?

SO: Definitely – I’ve actually played at Shady Oaks in Texas, which is an OCM design as well. It’s really cool, with that nine-hole short course where you can just hit balls from anywhere, even with your own golf balls. It’s the kind of fun, outside-the-box thinking that really elevates a practice experience, especially for pros who might be a bit tired of the typical range grind. So I’m excited to see how Long Island turns out after Mike (Cocking) and Ash (Mead) are done with it. With their creativity and the bones of a great course that I know pretty well already, I’m sure it’ll be amazing.

Navigating the Grind of Tour Life

TNJ: Life on the LPGA Tour looks glamorous from the outside, but what’s one thing you wish more fans understood about the week-to-week realities?

SO: I think a lot of people don’t quite grasp the nonstop nature of it all – the travel, the practice, the time away from home. There are 36 events a year, and even if you play in just 26 of them, that’s still half the weeks in a year spent on the road. It’s not just a matter of showing up on Thursday and playing through the weekend. Most weeks, we’re playing practice rounds Tuesday, Pro-Ams Wednesday, then the tournament days… and Monday ends up being a travel day, even if you were able to fly out late Sunday. It’s kind of relentless.

And it’s not just domestic travel – sometimes we’re hopping from country to country and continent to continent. Taking care of your body becomes so important because it’s a real grind physically. That’s probably the biggest difference from amateur golf to playing professionally. You’re not just trying to play great golf every week, you’re also constantly thinking about recovery, injury prevention, how to handle the mental fatigue… it’s a lot.

TNJ: Is it difficult to find good food when you’re travelling so much, especially some of the more remote or lesser known destinations that you visit?

SO: It definitely can be, especially in certain cities that might not have as many great options. But I actually really enjoy that part of tour life – exploring new places through their food. I think it’s the Melbournian in me! We’re so spoiled with incredible restaurants and different cuisines back home. So while I do miss that from time to time in the States, it’s also really fun to try to find the hidden gems wherever we end up. You start to figure out the best spots – and the places to avoid. After almost a decade out here, I’ve built up a nice little list of go-to restaurants in most cities. It’s one of the perks of tour life longevity!

An Olympian’s Surreal Experience

TNJ: Not many golfers can say they’ve competed in the Olympics. What was that experience like for you in Rio?

Honestly, it was surreal. Growing up, golf wasn’t an Olympic sport, so it was never something I dreamed about or prepared for in the same way as, say, a U.S. Open or British Open. But when it became a reality and I knew I’d be representing Australia in 2016… it was just this incredible whirlwind. Being in the Olympic Village, surrounded by the best athletes in the world across so many different sports – that’s something I’ll never forget. The Australia house and team areas were amazing, too. It was such a cool way to connect with other Aussie athletes outside of the golf bubble.

But it definitely didn’t feel like just another tournament. The vibe, the atmosphere, even the little things like not having your usual sponsor gear and instead being decked out in green and gold… it really hammered home how special and unique it was.

I do wish golf had a few more medals up for grabs, though! It’s crazy to me that you’ve got all these swimming events where they’re handing out hardware left and right, but in golf we play four rounds and there are only three medals. I’d love to see a mixed team event or something just to increase those opportunities. It’s such an honour to be an Olympian and I think golf has really embraced that, but more chances to podium would be incredible.

Being in the Olympic Village, surrounded by the best athletes in the world across so many different sports - that's something I'll never forget.

Su OhProfessional Golfer
Video piece – Course Care with Su Oh and Nick O’Hearn
Bucket List Courses and Dream Rounds

TNJ: Alright, you can pick any three courses in the world for your dream golf trip – where are you heading?

Ooh, that’s tough – only three?! Okay, I’d probably start in the New York area with a round at National Golf Links of America, because I’ve just heard so many amazing things. Follow that up with some time in the city and then a jaunt out to the Hamptons to play a few more bucket list spots… that’d be an epic little adventure.

Then I’m hopping across the country to hit Cypress Point, since I’ve somehow still never made it to Pebble! It’s definitely at the top of my list, and while I’m there, you know I’m hitting up some of those legendary California wine regions nearby. Maybe cruise down Highway 1, really make a proper trip of it.

Finally, I’m jumping across the pond for a round at Morfontaine in France. I’ve played the Evian Championship a few times but never really had a chance to explore Paris or other parts of Europe, at least from a golf standpoint. So I’d absolutely love to build a bigger trip around that and some of the other famous courses in the UK, get a little taste of golf history and the roots of the game.


Finding Balance Beyond the Fairways

TNJ: What do you like to do outside of golf to unwind and recharge, especially with how hectic the tour schedule can get?

Honestly, I’m pretty low-key! I like to joke that I’m a bit of a grandma when I’m off the course, just lounging around, binge-watching Netflix. A nice documentary, some trashy reality TV… I’m not picky!

I’ve actually got myself really into Pilates over the last year or so, and that’s been great for both my body and mind. It’s a nice way to get moving and reconnect with my breath and just kind of center myself, especially after a lot of planes and hotels and time zones.

When I’m back home in Melbourne, I’m all about the simple pleasures. Going for a nice walk, grabbing coffee with friends… we’re so spoiled with the quality of life and the food scene there. Definitely not stuff I take for granted anymore after bouncing around so much!

At the end of the day, I’m a bit of a homebody and I’ve embraced that. It’s less about specific hobbies and more about just having that time to be still, be with my people, appreciate the little moments between all the big golf stuff. Balance is so individual and I think I’ve become better at knowing what I need, even if it’s not the most exciting answer. I’ll leave the skydiving to someone else and take my couch time!