Doug Ghim will be playing with his father Jeff on the bag
SOUTHAMPTON, NY (June 13, 2018) - However this week ends it will be the completion of one chapter and the start of the next in the golfing story of Doug Ghim. The top-ranked player in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Rankings is competing this week as an amateur for the final time and he is doing it in style at the 118th U.S. Open.
"I'm going to miss amateur golf it is a lot of fun," said Ghim who will be playing in the Travelers Championship next week on a sponsors exemption. "It is playing for pride rather than a pay check. But I have always dreamed of being a professional golfer and I have had a pretty good run as an amateur."
In the field this week after finishing as the U.S. Amateur runner-up last year, Ghim recently completed a decorated career at Texas that included four individual wins (three during his senior year), low amateur honors at the Masters, the 2018 Ben Hogan Award and being apart of a winning Walker Cup team last September. And that is just the spark notes version of what he has accomplished.
"I feel like I have done almost everything that I have wanted to do and I am really excited to go to the next chapter of my golfing career," said Ghim standing near the Shinnecock Hills short game area.
Besides the accomplishments on the course Ghim has also experienced the camaraderie that comes with playing amateur golf and as he left the 18th hole on Monday that was on full display.
Ghim teed off early Monday morning playing alongside good friend Shintaro Ban, the fourth ranked player in the Golfweek/AGC Rankings, who recently completed an impressive career at UNLV. The two were out there grinding but also soaking in the experience with family members walking behind them and cameras snapping away.
"The course is amazing, it is really fair especially with the weather conditions out here," Ban said of the sprawling Long Island track. "The greens are playing pretty fast, pretty undulated. What is crazy is more so the shorter holes have a lot smaller and harder greens so they are playing a lot harder than the longer holes."
The two spent roughly ten minutes practicing a variety of chips and putts on the 18th green before exiting up the steep hill that leads to the clubhouse. As they left the final green, with Ban in the lead, Ghim came from behind and wrapped his friend in a hug prompting them to pause for a moment and grin at each other as they basked in the glory of the experience they had just shared.
"Doug [and I] we go pretty far back so it is a lot of fun playing with a buddy out here and knowing familiar faces," a four-time winner for UNLV this past year said. Ban went through qualifying to punch his ticket to Shinnecock Hills securing his spot with a final hole eagle that put him at 7-under.
For the amateurs in the field there are more than a few familiar faces in the field. This year there are 20 amateurs, well up from the 12.6 the U.S. Open has averaged the five previous years.
"I feel like the gap amateur golfers and professional golfers are getting smaller," Ghim said of the level of play in the amateur game. "We also play harder golf courses, instruction has gotten better over the years too. It is only a matter of getting comfortable out here. All the amateurs are just as good, they just have to learn the ropes a little bit and how to score the ball a little bit better."
For Ghim the process of figuring out how to be just a bit more comfortable and score a bit better continues this week and then begins in earnest next week in Connecticut when the next chapter of golfing career begins, "It is a lot of fun to be out amongst other amateurs. It makes it feel more normal to be out here, but knowing that I am going to be a professional out here pretty soon I'm going to have to get used to it sooner or later."