Monday, June 27, 2005 at 12:07 AM
Birdie Kim - Good Game, Bad Name
Sunday turned out to be a major choke-fest as the hottest names in women's golf fell by the wayside. Annika, Wie, Ochoa, and Creamer all crumbled under the U.S. Open pressure. One name on the leaderboard that I expected to blow up big time was the unheralded Birdie Kim. The only thing is, she didn't. She pulled a Michael Campbell and played clutch golf all day. She capped it all off by firing the only birdie on the 18th hole to win by 2 strokes over amateurs Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang. Truly amazing stuff.
But the whole time, I just couldn't stop thinking about her name. I mean "Birdie Kim" sounds more like the daily special at my local Korean BBQ restaurant than someone's name. Was her Korean name really "Bo-Dee," but it was butchered into English by someone at Ellis Island? Were her parents just nuts? My mind was racing for a logical explanation. It turns out that her given name is Ju-Yun, but she changed her name earlier this year. She explained that "...there are a lot of Korean names in the LPGA. They all sound similar to mine, so I wanted something different, something simple and easy."
That sounds like a weak excuse to me. I think what actually happened was that someone once told her about the old adage, "you have to make a name for yourself." Somehow it must have gotten lost in the translation from English into Korean and she literally made a name for herself.
OK, that's fine to make your own name, but why the heck would you make it "Birdie"? What's wrong with "Jennifer", "Mary", or "Jane"? If you want to go more exotic, there's always names like "Madonna", "Angelina", and "Paris". According to Ms. Kim, "Birdie is good in golf and it's good for me. You get a good feeling when you make a birdie. Everything is nice. Everybody likes that name." Well I don't like it. In fact, I think that it's ridiculous.
The only good excuse that I can come up with for giving herself such a laughable name is that she made a deal with the Golf Gods. My guess is that they promised to bless her with golfing success if she changed her name to a golf term.
To some, that theory holds merit. Many golfers are so desperate to play well that they would change their name to something bizarre in a heartbeat if it would endow them with golf prowess. I just hope that this doesn't start a trend. Birdie Kim along with "Eagle" Inkster and "Albatross" Ochoa would make the LPGA sound like a wrestling federation.
I better take a careful look at my birth certificate. Based on my golf experiences, I have a strong suspicion that my parents originally named me "Bogey."
Today I should change my name to "36 out-45 in-sorry ass 81"!
But anyway, hey Grouch, I'm moving from Seattle down to LA in a couple of weeks. Probably gonna live in Santa Monica. Could you recommend a men's club? Or a decent muni to call home?
I also found the name distracting (or several adv) but I guess you have to look at it with her culture in mind. Isn't that what they will tell us? I noticed JM did giggle when they talked about the name change. Where were her close friends when she did this?
Jennifer Mario said...
Yeah, and Johnny and Dan really had their fun with it. One of the producers must've finally told them to stop with the Birdie jokes, it was getting old. But not before they came out with classics like "Birdie is the word of the day, as in Kim!" and "What Birdie Kim needs here is a Par Kim!"
Golf Grouch said...
Santa Monica is a great place to live, but a less than ideal place for golf.
There are many great courses in the Ventura area, about a 45 min. drive from Santa Monica. Email me and I can give you more info.
Desmond Goh said...
Hi there, I love to read your articles. Being an Asian, I could understand Kim's addition of a name. Asians find that westerners find it difficult to pronounce Asian names like Ju-Yun. To make it easier she decides to add a western name but if she isn't a christian she can't add a christian name like Mary. I am sure she considered Grouchy before deciding on Birdie.
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