Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Golf has taken Aimee Cho on a unique journey from Golf Professional & Coach to YouTube Star
Born in South Korea, growing up in New Zealand where she learned to play golf before moving to Florida in the United States. Oh, yes, this person is also a Golf Professional. Given all of this background, you could be excused if you thought of Lydia Ko – but, you’d be wrong. It’s not that Lydia Ko, the former World No.1 does not fit the narrative; it’s just that we are referring to someone who did it before Lydia. In fact, well over 10 years before Ko.
Born in South Korea, Aimee Cho moved to New Zealand with her family at a very young age, taking up the sport of golf as a child. It was in New Zealand that she blossomed into a successful and talented player, winning many events throughout her junior career. Success as a junior led to her relocation to Florida, attending high school as a sophomore while striking up a working relationship with golf coach David Leadbetter.
She soon moved on to collegiate golf while turning pro immediately afterwards. Cho played on a full scholarship for the NCAA Division 1 team at the University of Florida (Gators), “I chose it because I wanted to stay close to my coach at the time, (David) Leadbetter because I was working with him in Orlando and it (University) was only two hours away”.
On her decision to turn professional, Cho shares with us that, “I had no doubt in mind that I was going to make it onto the LPGA … I was pretty talented as a kid and even now, I don’t practice and I can still throw up a good number … I’ve gotten injured so much … since playing at such a young age and being super flexible and then when I turned into the twenties, I started getting a little bit stiffer and that was when all the injuries came; I had to change my golf swing and I had to all of a sudden work on all the fitness stuff. I had turned professional … and hurt my back right away. When I was 23 I was told that I wouldn’t play golf ever again – that was the toughest two years of my life I think … I missed golf so much so after two years of rehabbing and resting, my back got better, so I tried to go back to golf then I re-hurt my back during LPGA Q-School”.
After an extremely painful year on the Symetra Tour, Cho decided to retire from professional golf, moving herself to California to pursue a career in teaching golf. She landed at a driving range as a teaching pro, quickly building a solid base of students. “I became very busy from the ‘get go’ which I’m very thankful about … at first, at that time, they didn’t really have many young girls teaching golf … so I wasn’t sure how people were going to take me ( because of her youthfulness and being a female teacher ) … but, everyone just loved working with me … that was when I got hired for the LA 18 Golf Lesson program on TV in the Bel Air area … so that was how I kind of got started in the media too” says Cho of her rapid ascent into the media world.
In reflecting back on her playing career and the adversity that often comes with the life of professional golf, Cho is very philosophical, putting things into perspective. “It’s really been a fun journey, so I can’t really complain about my injuries, all the tough times I went through, because it lead me to where I am today and the kind of teacher and person I am today”.
Golf With Aimee
Our discussion shifts towards Cho’s journey from oft-injured player into the world of teaching and social media, “I started working for a TV station in 2012 – I had so much fun doing it; I loved it … (as a player ) I always had fun in front of galleries and cameras so being a teacher in front of the camera – I loved it … I got so many emails from my fans they wanted more from me (writing that) 'you should start a YouTube channel’ … I kind of got pushed into it so that’s how I got started so early … I started my channel in 2015 before too many people were on YouTube golf-wise … because I had a small fan base already, I grew really fast there too (on YouTube).”
Cho on her popular YouTube channel – Golf WithAimee
As one of the early adopters of the YouTube platform for teaching golf, Cho quickly established a solid base of subscribers. At the time of writing, she has over 332K (three hundred thirty-two thousand subscribers ) and has built an impressive video library of over 600 - videos.
Keeping motivated and excited
In our interview, I pose the question to Aimee as to how she keeps herself fresh and energetic or motivated to be a good teacher, especially after she has been teaching for the better part of a decade already, “It’s because I just love the game of golf so anything to do with golf excites me anyway … I love meeting new people, working with them and seeing their progress … I try to make it a little bit more fun (as a teacher ) … I am a very traditional golfer on TV because I started such a long time ago, but I would still like to put a lot of fun into it, still love to help make the game of golf younger … I have so much energy anyway to begin with … I love talking about golf … the game itself gets me going”.
Her enthusiasm and passion for the game is definitely front and centre with her. It is clearly a significant part of Cho's personality that serves her well as an online teacher.
In discussing her teaching career, Cho tells us that her attendance on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” program was one of the highlights of her career, “when I got to go on the Golf Channel, on the live Morning Driver, that was amazing, that was my dream it just happened earlier than I had expected … so that was really truly amazing.”
With her voice rising in volume, she tells us that after her Morning Drive appearance she travelled abroad to South Korea to participate in golf shows, “I got invited to golf channels in Korea and I got to do lots of live TV there ‘I was like I’m just a YouTuber and they want to see my lessons on those mainstream channels’ … that was really fun.” The excitement in her voice is still there even though these appearances happened a couple of years ago.
When you log onto Aimee’s YouTube channel, “Golf With Aimee”, one of the first things that you will notice is that not only is the video lesson library extensive, but she has recorded them in both English and Korean. "At the beginning that was a dilemma ( filming in two languages ) I wasn’t sure if I should divide it up into different languages … since I am bilingual and since golf is so big in Korea I decided to film every lesson in both languages … and a lot of people appreciated that; they know its extra work, but it’s easier to understand … so I always started with lessons in both languages”.
For the sake of full disclosure, I had come across the Golf With Aimee site a few years back and have referred her site to many of my friends that were newer to golf. Aimee's ability to simplify the swing and use language and terminology to match was an important feature for many of them. She has a very effective way of explaining and teaching swing fundamentals and concepts so that most golfers can understand - and that can only improves a person's ability to incorporate the new learning.
From YouTube to online learning
Once YouTube became a more popular venue for teaching golf, Cho decided to start working on her own online teaching platform at MPSwing.com, working on it for the better part of two years before it went live.
“Once YouTube got popular, more and more teachers started using YouTube and there’s a lot of random golf tips out there so a lot of people had a hard time browsing (YT) and if you don’t have the skill to filter these tips, then you can really get lost in them."
"I had a handful of avid golfers and viewers that really liked my teaching and I could tell that they were having trouble navigating my lessons so that’s when I decided to open mpswing.com ... so everything is very organized, structured, with ( for ) different levels of skills … we have some secret golf lessons in there that are not on YouTube … I had a lot of students fly in from different countries to get golf lessons … I thought that was so inefficient they had to pay so much money for airfare, they had to book for two whole days which is a lot of money and we know you can’t really improve a lot on two days … so that was when I decided there has to be a better way to work with them and that was online golf lessons. Surprisingly, its been working out really great, I didn’t think that my students would give me anything this great on the progress of their swings over the internet, but it has been going really well.”
As our interview winds down, it is very obvious to me that Aimee Cho loves golf and being able to work in golf. She is an absolutely delightful person and her enthusiasm for golf and teaching is front and centre. It reminds me of a saying or proverb that "if you do something that you love, you will never work a day in your life" and it seems to me that Aimee Cho is the perfect embodiment of that. It would be tempting for some to cast Aimee Cho into the role of an "Instagram influencer" or social media "influencer", but nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to having played on tour before retiring as a result of recurring back injuries, Cho also attained her LPGA Class "A" membership and her certification in the prestigious TPI program ( Titleist Performance Institute ). There really are not many social media "influencers" with that kind of qualification and resume. It seems that Aimee Cho has found a path for herself in which she has built up a strong social media presence while providing golf lessons as a qualified professional – indeed she has found that "sweet spot" where she is doing something everyday that she loves.
Aimee Cho doing what she loves:
Her lesson on how to play a low draw shot with your 3 - wood
Aimee Cho is a certified LPGA Class "A" teaching professional,
she holds a TPI Certification in golf and fitness and
she currently resides in Los Angeles.
You can reach her on any of the following:
YT: Golf with Aimee