HomeBlocksFront-Grid13-Year-Old Golf Prodigy Masters Fairways

13-Year-Old Golf Prodigy Masters Fairways

In the world of golf, age is often just a number. At 13-years-old, Jaden Soong, a Burbank resident, has already carved a niche for himself as a rising star in the sport. With a natural and powerful swing that caught the attention of his father, Chris Soong, at a tender age, Jaden’s journey into the world of golf began when he was barely a toddler.

“I bought him a plastic set; he was 2-and-a-half and still in diapers. I just wanted to see if he could hit the club to the ball and have hand-eye coordination,” Chris Soong said. “I have a video of him when he was like [age] 3 swinging a plastic golf club; it was just a very natural and powerful swing.”

By the time he turned 3 years old, it was evident to his father that Jaden possessed a remarkable talent for the game. It was then that they decided to nurture his skills and explore his potential.

While many sports place limitations on size and physical attributes, Jaden found solace in golf. Standing at a modest 5 feet, 2 inches tall, this Thomas Starr King Middle School student recognized that the size of the player doesn’t matter. He revels in the fact that golf rewards mental toughness and strategic thinking over physical prowess, setting it apart from many other sports.

Jaden Soong, a Burbank resident, has been playing golf since he was barely a toddler and will compete in the second annual Stephen Curry Underrated Tour this summer.

“In football or basketball, you need to be a little bigger and taller, but in golf, size doesn’t matter. It’s more about how strong mentally you are,” Jaden said. “Golf was just one of those games that I felt I had more of an advantage in.”

Jaden’s talent has taken him on incredible journeys across the nation. With golf as his passport, he has traversed courses in North Carolina, Georgia, Hawaii and Nevada, even venturing outside the country to Mexico. These opportunities have allowed him to gain valuable experience and test his skills against talented players from diverse backgrounds.

This summer, Jaden is set to compete in the second annual Stephen Curry Underrated Tour across four states: Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Washington. (Curry is an NBA superstar who has led the Golden State Warriors to multiple championships.)

“[Representatives] reached out to Jaden this year and asked if he would be interested in participating in it. Stephen Curry partnered with Under Armour and Callaway to host a tour with 96 boys and girls,” Chris Soong said. “Depending on where you are in the point system, the championship will be held in Northern California. They’ve also partnered with the American Junior Golf Association and you get stars that you can use toward some of its events. The winner from the boys and the girls will get a lifetime exemption into the AJGA, which is a huge thing for the players.”

Jaden recently competed in the U.S. Open qualifier, a significant milestone for any golfer, let alone a teenager. Although he narrowly missed the cut, Jaden etched his name in the record books as the youngest player ever to qualify for the sectional round. On June 5, Jaden showcased his resilience and determination during a grueling 36-hole marathon, finishing with a commendable score of 73 and 76 for a 149 total (7-over par).

With guidance from his father and his mental and swing coach Rick Sessinghaus, they wisely set a realistic goal for Jaden: to complete the 36 holes. Not only did he accomplish that, but he also displayed his talent with three birdies, eight bogeys and one double-bogey while shooting par the other 24 holes.

“The day before the tournament I was definitely a little nervous because I went to the range and I wasn’t hitting it exactly how I wanted to. But when I got there on Monday, I was feeling confident. I felt good warming up and I was hitting some really good shots,” Jaden said. “When I stepped on the first tee, obviously I was a little nervous because many people were watching but I just tried staying in the moment.”

With his success at the qualifier, Jaden earned an exemption to compete in the esteemed SCGA Amateur Championship at Rolling Hills. Additionally, the 13-year-old received a special invitation to showcase his skills at the prestigious Gator Invitational held in Mississippi, which is for boys and girls ages 15 to 18.

Beyond the golf course, Jaden is a typical teenager. He finds joy in playing the popular video game Fortnite, watching YouTube videos and attending school. However, his dedication to the sport is undeniable. Several times a week, Jaden can be found at the driving range, diligently honing his skills before the school day begins. In the afternoons and evenings, he can be seen playing a few holes, further cementing his commitment to his craft.

Jaden Soong, a 13-year-old golf superstar, signs an autograph for a fan during a recent competition.

“Sometimes I’ll wake up at maybe 5:45 in the morning and go hit the range,” Jaden said. “Tuesdays I usually play nine holes with one of my friends, then I’ll go work out with my physical trainer Ken Mengel. Fridays I’ll play nine with my friends. I try to play as frequently as I can.”

Jaden admits that he can’t imagine his life without the sport. To him, golf is not just a game but a way of life. With aspirations of turning professional one day, Jaden is determined to keep pushing his limits and honing his skills with every swing. He received an inspirational video message from basketball legend Kobe Bryant in 2018, who passionately conveyed to the young prodigy the significance of practice in achieving greatness.

“Jaden, you gotta practice,” Bryant said in the video recording. “Serena Williams hates practicing but she hates losing more. I love practicing, but not everybody does. But if you want to be great, if you want to know what excellence feels like, you have to put in the work. There’s no other way to do it. There’s no secret formula, there’s no magic wand — the more you do it, the better you get. At the end of the day, 10 years from now, when you look back and say, ‘God, I’m not as good as I should have been,’ you’ll have no one to blame but yourself because you didn’t put the time in. Don’t be that guy.”

As Jaden continues to make waves in the golf world, his talent and unwavering dedication serve as an inspiration to both young and old. While his journey is still unfolding, one thing is clear: Jaden’s future shines bright, and the golfing world eagerly anticipates the day he turns pro and plays on the biggest stages in the sport.

First published in the June 24 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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