"They're working differently than the other kids," Lasken said. "They are really into perfecting the technical aspects. They are very savvy to how they should be swinging."
Golf in Korea is very expensive and the game is limited to the upper classes. And even if players can afford the fees, there are only about 50 public courses in the country. So when young Koreans arrive in the U.S. and find green fees of under $30, they take up the game. "Golf in Korea is viewed as a lifestyle for the rich and famous," KyeYoung Park said. "To be able to play golf is sort of a status symbol."
Also, the Korean view of sports as a career began changing after the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, KyeYoung Park said. "Before the Olympics, Korean people never paid attention to sports as a career," KyeYoung Park said. "If sports are now acceptable as a career and golf is a sport that gives you status, then of course you are going to play golf."
Se Ri Pak, who began playing in 1990, was a product of that thinking. Like many of today's young players, she was introduced to the game by her father.
Another factor in the success of Korean golfers is that many parents will uproot their family and move to the U.S. so their kids can pursue a golf career.
Frank Park, Jane's father and golf coach, acknowledged that children sometimes practice hard out of respect to their families. "Juniors sometimes don't have much of a choice. If the parents say you have to do it, then you do it," he said.
Sihwan Kim's father spends much of his time working in South Korea while his family lives in California. "You definitely realize what they are doing for you," Sihwan Kim said. "It makes you want to work harder so that they aren't disappointed."
The flip side to this dedication is the risk of burnout. Se Ri Pak's father reportedly forced her to practice for hours at a time.
After years of success, Pak in 2004 and in 2005 failed to crack the top 100 money list on the LPGA Tour for the first time. She took four months off from golf. "I was so much tired by the game," Pak said. "It was such a hard time to focus."
The break rejuvenated her. Last month she won the LPGA Championship, her first victory in two years.
Korean boys seem to fizzle more frequently than girls before advancing to the pro level, according to Frank Park, Jane Park's father. K.J. Choi and Diamond Bar's Kevin Na are the only Koreans on the PGA Tour.
"Americans have more balance when they are younger," Frank Park said. "Korean players are dedicated only to golf. That's why they are so good as juniors. But sometimes, they get sick of it."
However, golf instructor Lasken insists he has seen as many American parents ruin budding careers as he has Koreans. "You see it everywhere where parents push, push, push," he said.
But whatever the reason, the fact remains that young Koreans are a force in golf.
In the money
Koreans in LPGA leaders (Michelle Wie, who has won $444,951, isn't LPGA member).