‘Tee-riffic’ junior top golfer set to join the Trojans after verbal commitment


Image printed with permission from Carson Kim

Junior Carson Kim keeps track of his shot during the 2020 Junior Players Championships in Florida.

Esther Oh, Staff Reporter

When junior Carson Kim started playing golf at the age of 7, he didn’t expect to be recognized as one of the greatest players in Sunny Hills history, and he certainly didn’t expect to be scouted by USC.

Kim, who has been on Sunny Hills’ golf team since his freshman year, has been unofficially recruited by USC since he was 13 years old, and on July 22, he made his verbal commitment to join the Trojan family. 

“With the recruiting process, you have an idea of who is looking at you based on things like coaches following you at tournaments, sending questionnaires and following you on Instagram, so I knew USC was looking at me,” he said. “But when USC told me that I was their No. 1 recruit, I was actually really surprised and excited.”  

Per NCAA rules, Kim was able to start talking to university golf coaches on June 15, after he completed his sophomore year of high school.

“One reason [I decided to commit to USC] was the coaches, and another was the facilities and the state-of-the-art training centers,” he said. “I felt that the coaches were the ones who would be able to guide me to the PGA tour.

“I also value academics, which USC is strong in.”

USC men’s golf head coach J.T. Higgins could not answer questions about Kim’s verbal commitment because of NCAA’s restrictions and rules; once he signs his commitment letter, Higgins would be able to grant interview requests from the media.

Ranked 25th in the nation and fifth in California for class ranking, Kim said he practices for about up to 10 hours a day at the Los Coyotes Country Club in Buena Park during the summer with an hour break in the middle of the day for lunch. 

But when USC told me that I was their No. 1 recruit, I was actually really surprised and excited.”

— junior Carson Kim

During the school year, Kim said he spends about eight hours a day practicing while taking online coursework through the school district’s iSierra learning academy.

“I [have] always enjoyed playing golf and still enjoy it just as much,” he said. “I love the grind and growth that happens as a result of all the hard work along with the competitive aspect of the game.”

His private coach for over six years, Don Brown, said Kim has a promising future in collegiate golf.

“Swing wise, he has improved mechanically, but there is more to golf than just the swing,” Brown said. “He started thinking better and having more confidence, which led to better playing and better training.”   

Boys and girls golf head coach Scott Enrico commends Kim for his performance in the sport and for his character development.

“Carson is a great golfer, and he’s also a great kid – one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet,” Enrico said. “He believes in himself and his game; he knows he can bounce back from any pitfalls.” 

Kim said he gives credit to his best friend and golf teammate, junior Eric Lee, whom he has known since both were 7 years old.

“We really pushed each other to work harder and get better in golf and in life,” he said.

During his next two high school seasons, Kim said he hopes to be a First-Team All American and win Rolex junior player of the year. 

At USC, he said his goal is to win the Haskin’s Award as well as help the Trojans win a national championship. 

“I’d like to think that I’m a tenacious and resilient person, sticking with when things get tough and getting back up when I’m knocked down,” Kim said. “I want to be known as someone who is courageous enough to take risks.”