Chang embraces golf, and won't let go

Tina Chang of St. Anthony's High School takes

Tina Chang of St. Anthony's High School takes her third stroke on the 18th Hole at Eisenhower Park's White Course during the NYCHSAA varsity girls golf state championship. (June 4, 2012) (Credit: James Escher )

Tina Chang had been figure skating for seven years. But at the age of 12 she had to give up the sport she loved for good because of the unbearable pain in her feet caused by skating.

"It was excruciating pain, and eventually it became too much," Chang recalled. Her navicular bones were protruding which caused the area around them to become inflamed. With surgery unavailable at the time, Chang was forced to turn to another sport.

Around the same time Chang's brother, who is four years her elder, took up golf and she decided to join him.

"It was such a huge change," she said. "I didn't like it at all when I first started."

Now in her senior year at St. Anthony's, Chang has reached the pinnacle of high school golf, shooting a 7-over 79 at Eisenhower White to win the state CHSAA championship last month. It was the first state title of her high school career, and it came in her last high school competition. She will be golfing for William & Mary in the fall.

Chang's high school career was far from typical: she played for Mineola's boys golf team her first two years and then was home-schooled her junior year. She said it wasn't until a year ago that she believed she could compete for a state title.

"I was always frustrated with my game," she said. "I felt like no matter what I did I couldn't improve, but I just kept practicing and persevering. To this day I'm still trying to improve and become a better golfer."

Still looking to hone her skills, Chang said she will be playing in amateur tournaments at least every other week during the summer.

"I feel like I haven't yet reached the level I know I can reach," she said. "These tournaments give me lots of experience and help me improve tremendously."

Chang attributes her love for golf to her brother, whom she said made the sport fun for her. Looking back, she said she doesn't regret having to hang up her skates.

"Golf turned out to be a good alternative," she said. "It forced me to have confidence in myself. It helped me grow as a person."

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