Crossing the globe for golf
November 16, 2016
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Chinese native Symba Xu ‘17 travelled half-way around the world to sunny Del Mar, motivated by a passion for golf and love of the game.
“I was excited by the idea of moving to the United States because I could receive a higher level of training,” Xu said. “It was also an opportunity to study abroad.”
Starting her journey in Florida, Xu never wavered in her dedication and enthusiasm for golf, which eventually resulted in her relocation to California. Continuing her higher education after senior year, the Cathedral Catholic High School golfer will see her hard work pay off as she joins the ranks of female golfers at Columbia University in New York.
However, the road to committing has not been an easy one, giving her an appreciation for new found opportunities as well as the adventure of a lifetime. If not for Xu’s commitment and her family’s support, her dream would never have become a reality.
From the age of five, Xu began playing golf in her hometown of Hong Kong. This desire to hold a club prompted a local move to Fuzhou, Hong Kong for a focus on golf while utilizing a surplus of resources. In Fuzhou, she attended the French-American school, learning English and continuing to pursue golf.
As she honed her skills, Xu and her mother recognized that in order to take her golf game to the next level, she would need to move to the United States. Despite the big transition, Xu maintained a positive attitude.
After much research, a friend suggested she look into IMG Academy, a prestigious boarding school catering to young athletes while providing specialized academic and athletic training programs in Bradenton, Florida.
Xu’s motives for attending IMG rests with the school’s international golf reputation and success in training many of the world’s top golfers. In addition to golf, the school offers tennis, baseball, football, and basketball training.
Although it is a boarding school, Xu lived nearby with her mother and commuted as a day student. She attended IMG academy from 7th to 9th grade. During the school week she would practice two to four hours a day, and she competed in tournaments on weekends, never regretting this commitment.
“The older I got, the more I realized what a major role golf was in my life and also that every sport is hard if you want to do very well,” Xu said.
One of the highlights during her time at IMG was enjoying the bus rides with her team, listening to music and bonding with teammates. Sophomore year, she transferred to Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School located in Bradenton, Florida.
Xu said she missed being in a more traditional school environment, prompting this transition to Saint Stephen’s, which accommodated her busy schedule while giving her a high school experience outside the putting green.
Once again, looking to improve her game, Xu and her mother discovered a professional golf instructor Dennis Sheehy through a friend. Sheehy is an Irish golf veteran who had trained some of the world’s best golfers, including Professional Golf Association professionals Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam.
Mr. Sheehy had been teaching Xu at the Santaluz Golf Club in San Diego for nearly a year followed by bi-monthly flights from Florida to San Diego, California for the weekend. After multiple ten-hour round trips, the Xu family decided over the summer to move to San Diego and train under Mr. Sheehy.
So far, the partnership has been a success.
“She’s an amazing golf student,” Sheehy said. “She’s a great learner and grasps concepts very easily.”
Moving states meant switching schools. Therefore, Symba and her mom researched schools and realized CCHS was the school that would meet her academic needs.
Interestingly enough, rather than golf, Xu has joined the CCHS fencing team to start her senior year with a new hobby.
Due to her busy schedule, the Xu family only travels to China once a year, visiting their father and the family business. This separation was the largest sacrifice Xu’s parents made in order for their daughter to achieve her dream.
Reflecting on the journey from halfway across the world, Xu finds that the plane rides and practice has been worth it.