Game Changers

From Junior Golfer to PGA Professional, Leah Im is Living Out Her Dream

By Kayla Gutierrez
Published on

Golf can take you to many places. It’s a sport that has a magnetic effect, bringing you back — even when you swore you’d never play again — to that course, the people or the experiences that make it so unique.
For Leah Im, golf has been making that impact since she was 6 years old. And now, her dreams of becoming a PGA Professional are within reach.
“I have no idea where I would be without golf. It has impacted my life in so many of the best ways,” says Im, who is in her senior year in the UNLV PGA Golf Management program. “I can’t thank my dad enough for introducing me to the game, because he really pushes me to be my best and try new things —  and that was golf. I am truly blessed to play this amazing sport.”
Im and younger sister, Brianna.
Im and younger sister, Brianna.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Leah grew up with her parents Chong and Sung, and younger sister Brianna. Her parents originally met in South Korea and later moved to the United States to settle down and start a family.  Not long after, Leah and her sister were born — and not much longer after that, their dad had them give golf a shot.
“I started playing when I was six, so I grew up surrounded by golf,” remembers Leah. “My dad put my sister and I in the local First Tee program and I absolutely fell in love with the game. That was the initial ‘first step’ in my dream of becoming a PGA Professional. First Tee taught my sister and I most of what we know about the game today.”
To say that First Tee impacted Leah’s life would be an understatement and she credits a lot of her golf success to how much the program vested in her as a young girl — ultimately influencing her to apply to one of 17 PGA Golf Management University Programs around the country.
“When applying to colleges, I knew I wanted to continue playing golf, but I didn’t know how. I saw that UNLV had a PGA Golf Management program and I knew this would be the perfect fit for me,” says Leah. “I wanted to find a university where I could be close to home and my family, while also pursuing a degree in the sport I love.”
Now in her final year of the program, Leah is reminiscing on her array of accomplishments. From serving as Secretary and Vice President of her PGM Student Association, to going on many paid internships and playing amazing golf courses, golf has given her countless opportunities.
Leah is even a three-time PGA WORKS John & Tamara Lundgren Scholarship recipient, an accolade that gave her the opportunity to attend the 2022 PGA Annual Meeting in Phoenix — a memory she will cherish for the rest of her life.
“It was truly an incredible experience I’ll never forget,” Leah recalls of the Annual Meeting, “and PGA WORKS made this experience possible. As one of only six girls in my entire PGA Golf Management program, and being from a diverse background, there have definitely been challenges.
"When I found out about the PGA WORKS scholarship, I knew it was the perfect way for me to connect with other individuals with similar passions like me. It lessened the financial burden of my college education substantially while allowing me to pursue a career in golf.”
No matter where she goes next, one thing will hold true for Leah —  golf will always have a special place in her heart. In knowing that, she hopes to inspire future generations of golfers to get involved with their local junior golf programs just like she did. 

You just never know where golf might take you. And I’m so thankful for all the places golf has taken me.

Leah Im

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