San Clemente’s Alex Pak can drive the ball a mile, but has found success on junior circuit thanks to his putter
By Steve Breazeale
Alex Pak stands at about 5-feet-4-inches on a good day but the Shorecliffs seventh grader makes the most of his frame out on the golf course. The San Clemente native uses every inch of his body to smash a golf ball an average of 260 yards off the tee and when he really rears back and lets one rip, he can push it up to the 300-yard mark.
Pak has used this power method to surge into the top of the standings in the Callaway Junior World Golf rankings and on August 3 he captured the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships title at the famous Pinehurst No. 8 course in North Carolina.
The win at Pinehurst capped what has been an impressive summer stretch for Pak. On July 19 he placed second in the Callaway Junior World Golf Championship Boys 11-12 division. On July 25 he notched another second-place finish at the Veritas AAU Junior Olympic Games.
Even as a young child his length off the tee has been an advantage, Pak’s father Peter recalled on a Tuesday afternoon at Shorecliffs Golf Club. The ability to hit long irons, something that amateurs struggle with, came naturally for Pak. The only thing that held him back from reaching this recent high-level of play was his putter. But that seems to be behind the youngster now.
“The reason I’m playing so well is that I’m making all these putts. Before I wasn’t really making them so I couldn’t score well,” Pak said.
His long game is what gets him there but rolling in putt after putt has pushed him over the top.
Pak is unlike most young amateurs in the area in that his approach to golf is very freewheeling. He does not play golf year-round and although he travels the junior circuit, he has other interests and hobbies that keep him off the links for long stretches. Football is among his favorite sports to play and he is the center for the Shorecliffs Middle School flag football team. He also plays basketball and video games with his friends.
“I’m still just a normal kid. I still do everyday stuff,” Pak said with a laugh.
School, football and basketball practices take up a lot of his time, but when a golf tournament approaches, Pak gets to work. Two weeks before the start of a tournament is when he gears up and fine tunes his swing. It speaks to his natural ability and the hours spent practicing that Pak can essentially shelf golf for a while, pick up his clubs days before an event and still come out on top.
He is now prepping for The Masters Drive, Chip & Putt Championships. He qualified for the event by winning the Moreno Valley Ranch Drive, Chip & Putt competition by 21 points on June 13.
The regional qualifying stages are set to take place this weekend at Morongo Golf Course. If Pak can win the 12-year-old division there, he will get a chance to compete the Sunday before the PGA Tour professionals tee off on golfs most hallowed ground. With the regional stages on the horizon, one can bet that Pak will be out on the golf course, polishing that power swing.