Lindsey Morales Whang grew up in Desert Hot Springs, not far from dozens of Palm Springs’ glitzy golf courses, resorts, golf stores and driving ranges.
Yet, she never picked up a golf club as a kid. When she started dating Arthur Whang in 2013, she saw how much he loved golf. But it wasn’t until he asked her, about 18 months later, to start taking lessons with him that she figured it might be a fun hobby for her as well.
“Growing up in the desert, you’re around it all the time,” Morales Whang said. “You drive by the golf courses all the time, you have the PGA TOUR that comes through there, and you’re pretty exposed to golf and the culture being in the desert.
“I had never played golf. I didn’t understand the game, and it wasn’t interesting to me. Coming from a Latin family, our focus was on soccer versus golf.”
Morales Whang, 31, instantly loved the challenge of the game. The couple began taking weekly lessons at Heartwell GC in Long Beach, where Tiger Woods played as a kid. Morales Whang enjoyed learning how to hit her fairway woods and chip and putt. They made it fun by scheduling brunches with a friend who lives in Long Beach, and it became a regular Saturday routine.
“My first lesson was interesting,” Morales Whang said. “It was mostly learning how to be comfortable with the grip and handling the club. It really wasn’t about how far to hit the ball. It was just getting comfortable. It was a short, 45-minute lesson. I felt it went by really fast, and there was so much to learn. That was exciting. It’s something you have to commit to and that you’ll grow into.”
It was also a thrill for Arthur. He hoped his then-girlfriend would be interested in a sport that had captivated him for years. The two are big sports fans and have season tickets to the Chargers and Kings and go to some Dodgers and Galaxy games in addition to UFC events. Golf is a sport they could watch and play.
Whang’s mom and stepfather, Susie and Thomas Boardman, live on the course at Lomas Santa Fe CC in Solana Beach, and they all play golf on some weekends and holidays.
“I see my parents playing together, and it looks nice. It’s a good way to spend time with your partner,” Arthur said.
Now, Morales Whang is included in a family tradition. At first, she would just ride in the golf cart to watch and learn.
“I thought it was so special that he and his mom and stepdad spent time together playing golf. I think he feels a stronger connection with his family through golf,” Morales Whang said. “I remember going out on the golf course with them, and I didn’t know much about the sport. But just being with their family and being out in nature, that was a draw for me to want to learn and play.”
Recently, Morales Whang played the 18-hole executive course with everyone. She’s making steady improvements.
“She got a couple of bogeys, and that’s a tough executive course so she was pretty happy about that,” said Arthur, a 17-handicapper. “I think she got a sense of how frustrating golf can be. She missed some short putts, and she was surprised.”
The Boardsmans are also board members at Lomas Santa Fe, so golf is a big part of their lives. It seemed a natural fit that when the Whangs married in 2015, that the event would be at Lomas Santa Fe. The couple exchanged their vows on the course, and the reception was indoors. The Boardmans hosted the rehearsal dinner, overlooking the course from their backyard, the night before.
“I thought it was nice because I’ve spent so much time there, and it was a great feeling to be married at a place that’s such a big part of our lives,” Arthur said.
Morales Whang has many fond memories there as well. Every beginner golfer – and even ones who have played for years – have funny stories of mishaps and successes on the course.
“My in-laws were excited about me learning to play golf, and they asked me to play with them,” Morales Whang said. “I’d just taken a lesson on how to chip and wanted to practice chipping. I made the awful mistake of taking a full swing on a chip shot and shanked the ball across the green where my father-in-law was standing. I almost took him out. That was the most embarrassing thing I’ve done. I apologized. I think they appreciate that I’m learning something that’s out of my comfort zone to spend time with them and share with them. They encourage me all the time. That’s motivating.”
The Whangs are busy professionals. Morales Whang is a nurse practitioner who works at several clinics in Los Angeles, and Arthur is an attorney at his firm, Whang Law Firm. The two live in Los Angeles.
They always make time to get their golf fix, and Morales Whang just attended her first PGA TOUR event at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera CC in February. She has a couple of players she likes to follow in Jason Day and Dustin Johnson and was thrilled when Johnson won the U.S. Open for his first major.
“Just seeing the incredible swings and posture and golf fitness the players have, I get to appreciate it more,” Morales Whang said. “I know what it is not to have it and how much work it is to get there. It’s nice to understand the jargon and talk to people like Arthur who love golf.”
Even though Morales Whang didn’t grow up playing golf, she’s taking on the task of a new sport that’s both challenging and a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family.