Jonathan Kang left Golden Valley High School in 2016 as the most accomplished male golfer in school history as he holds every school record. From his freshman year until graduation, he continued to set the bar for excellence within the Golden Valley golf program.
Kang has been playing for nine years and looks up to Tiger Woods; he is now at UC Irvine and a main contributor for the Anteater program. Recently Kang competed in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Riviera Country Club and Bel Air Country Club.
When asked about his experience Kang said he “learned a lot even though nothing went as planned” and “It was a very humbling and erudite experience.”
To get to that point, Kang had to go through a 36-hole qualifier at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, where only the top three golfers from each of the qualifiers all over the country advanced to the championship. Not only did Kang qualify out of his region he finished with the lowest score (-6), making this the best highlight in his career.
After failing to advance to the match play portion of the tournament Kang said, “I just didn’t have things my way. Those were two very hard courses.” He continued about his two rounds where he shot a combined 19 over par.
Playing against the best amateur golfers in the world can be a humbling experience and Kang felt that playing against so many good players will help his game in the future.
“After seeing the quality of just about every golfer out there, I can now see how much I have to do to get to the next level,” he said.
Even though he left Golden Valley as the best golfer in school history with three League MVPs and three Newhall Cups, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The biggest bump was during his freshman year.
The first day of the Newhall Cup Tournament, Kang was in the lead with a score of 73, making him super confident going into day two. The second, however, took a turn for the worse after he fell off track by shooting a 93 and finishing the tournament in seventh place. By the end of the day he was visibly upset with his performance, in tears, ready to give up.
Coach Moskal, one of his biggest supporters along with his family recalls, “he was literally crying, and needed a very large box of tissues.”
Moskal helped him through the loss, explaining how even though he didn’t win this could be a learning and motivating experience for him.
When asked about the experience, Kang remembers feeling awful but knowing he had to put it all behind him and move forward. After that experience he was the king of the Foothill League; he won the Newhall Cup for the next three years as well as winning the League MVP three times in a row.
He recalls, “that feeling was the best.” He also reminisced, “Coach Moskal helped me mentally prepare each time reminding me that I was the best. In fact we joked about my freshman year performance because Coach Moskal gave me the nickname ‘Day Two,’ referring back to the difficult second day of the Newhall Cup.”
Kang believes Golden Valley was the best high school for him because “it not only helped him grow as a golfer, but also how to stay composed when things didn’t go as planned.” He credits Coach Moskal for a lot of that.
“He [Coach Moskal] was always there to get me back on track when something bad happened. He was also there when things went well,” he added.
While Kang definitely had faith that he would get to where he is now, he says he “will do his best and the rest is up to god.”
Coach Moskal knew Kang was going to have a lot of success early in his career because “he [Kang] was hard-working and talented. He was always the first one on the range and the last to leave.”
Kang’s career might not have always been smooth sailing, but it was all a learning experience to help him reach where he is right now. He owes a lot of his success to Coach Moskal, who coached him all throughout high school and has seen him grow into the player he is today.
Even though losing was hard, today he knows the importance of learning from the ups and downs and staying composed because at the end of the day it isn’t the end of the world and he will come back better next time.
Kang begins his sophomore year at UC Irvine and everyone who knows him knows he will work very hard this season and return to next year’s amateur championship with valuable experience that will help him continue to perform better.
— Wilmar Alas and Sabina Khanna, Golden Valley Sports Broadcasting