I Am Generation T: Tiffany Chan
Sporting stars are pretty thin on the ground in Hong Kong, but Tiffany Chan has been busy putting the city on the golfing map. Originally from the city's Tuen Mun district, she rose to success locally before transferring to the big league in the US.
She represented Hong Kong in the World Amateur Team Championship in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and in the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014, before going on to compete in the 2016 Olympics. After receiving a scholarship to Daytona State College in the US, she was twice the National Junior College Athletic Association champion. She won the Hong Kong Ladies Open in 2016 as an amateur, turning professional in 2017. In 2017 she was runner-up at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, meaning that she qualified for the 2018 LPGA Tour, becoming the first ever Hong Kong golfer to qualify for the top-level competition.
Tiffany was recently in Hong Kong to compete in the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open, finishing tied for fifth and the top-ranked Hong Kong player. We took the opportunity to ask her about the hurdles she’s faced, the sacrifices she’s made, the importance of persistence and the need to work on being happy.
When did you know you wanted to be a golfer?
I wanted to be a professional golfer when I was 16 or 17—it wasn’t like I thought I could do it, but I wanted to. I was in the Hong Kong team for roughly eight years. We had some good results but weren’t consistent at all. No one ever thought Hong Kong could produce a professional golfer.
What’s the hardest thing about being on tour?
Travelling, and managing how you mentally and physically prepare. The physical part is one of the toughest: you have to fly, rent a car, book your own stuff, and you need to spend time on it. And then you have to play well.
What’s your pre-match routine? How do you get your head in the game?
I’ve started writing a lot before games. I just open a blank page and write whatever is on my mind, so I have clear goals and plans. I just started doing it this year. I’m trying to make some changes, and so far it’s working.
What’s been your greatest challenge in your career?
Right now, it’s trying to find a balance between golf and everything else.
What are your most important wellness habits?
I meditate a lot, especially during tournaments. You just try to not think for 10 minutes. You’re constantly thinking about something. Having those 10 minutes to do nothing is very important for refreshing your mind.
What’s the greatest sacrifice you’ve made for your golf career?
I think being away from home is my biggest sacrifice: being away from family and friends, and not doing what I should be doing in my 20s. When you just want to relax, you just want to be home. So, my biggest sacrifice is not being able to do what I want.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To be happy. I have a few close friends on tour, and to be happy is the thing everyone is working on. You see people playing well but they may not be happy. You can have all the money in the world but still not be happy.
What’s your favorite book?
David Lamar Cook’s Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia. It’s not a motivational book but is based on a true story. It’s Christian; I’m not a Christian but it talks about how a guy who plays golf finds a place called Utopia. It changed my life. I read it when I was 15. I still read it; it’s on my phone.
What would you tell a young aspiring golfer they need to do to succeed?
Just don’t give up. I have a lot of ups and downs too.
Where do you hope your golfing career takes you in the next 10 years?
You try to be the best of the best. It might sound very cocky and unreachable now, but who knows what will happen? You need to keep dreaming and having goals. I would like to be a consistent player and keep my place on [the LPGA] tour. If I can do that, becoming a better player will be easier.
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
I would lie down at home and eat.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I get very mad at myself and don’t show it to people. I try to control it. It’s a good thing. You have to have some emotions.
Interview: Casey Quackenbush.