When was the last time a professional athlete garnered public attention because he was … nice? Kindness is not exactly a high-ranking factor in sports today. Yet that’s precisely what inspired the formation of “Choi’s Bois,” a group of extreme golf fans from Nashville, Tennessee who are huge fans of South Korea’s K.J. Choi.
Golf follower Bobby Page said of Choi, “We just kept noticing how nice he is.”
Brad and Bo Page, along with their father, Bobby Page, and their friends, David Clayton, Alex Kirkland and Curtis Gribble, make an annual pilgrimage to Ponte Vedra Beach to watch The PLAYERS Championship. They started calling themselves, “Choi’s Bois,” in 2005. That was the pivotal year when the guys attended The PLAYERS and noticed how considerate Choi was to his fans. They observed the eight-time PGA Tour winner pausing in the middle of a round to sign a golf ball for a young boy. They saw the way the calm and collected Choi always took time to acknowledge his fans, no matter how his round was going. And they decided this was a professional athlete worth following.
In 2013, Choi received the Charlie Bartlett Award in acknowledgment of his many charitable contributions. He founded the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007, in order, “to create a better future for children.” The Foundation provides scholarships to students in need. Choi himself comes from humble beginnings. He was born in South Korea, where both his parents were farmers on the small island of Wando. Through the encouragement of a high school coach, Choi began playing golf at the age of 16. With a single golf club and a copy of Jack Nicklaus’ “Golf My Way,” both gifts from his coach, he taught himself a game that was not well-known in South Korea. Twelve years later, he became the first South Korean golfer to earn a PGA Tour card.
Choi says he relies on his faith in God to help him through the obstacles of life. When faced with a difficult shot, he steadies himself by remembering the Bible verse Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In 2011, Choi had the biggest win of his career at The PLAYERS, and Choi’s Bois were there to witness it. In fact, they were there wearing their newly printed matching T-shirts identifying them as Choi’s Bois. The humble golfer was moved by their devotion, and even posed with them for a photo at the 18th hole.
At a post-round press conference, Choi said through his interpreter: “I was very surprised to see how the crowds, the gallery, the local fans were supporting me. They showed me a lot of support, a lot of love. And for the Choi’s Bois, for them to come all the way from Tennessee to watch me play, imagine, I have no relationship with them. For them to fly all the way over just because they like me as a player and to support me the way that they did, I’m very appreciative. It’s really spectacular to see something like that. I felt that with support like that, every shot that I hit, I have to try my best. I didn’t want to let them down, so it was a very good thing to see.”
It seems this group of “extreme fans” chose an athlete who is extremely worth following.