Imai competes at professional level on the golf course


Contributed by James Imai

Senior James Imai golfs daily to improve his game. According to Imai, practice is essential to make progress and achieve his goals. Imai committed to Northwestern University for golf.

Zoe Tseng

The goal of golf is relatively simple. You hit the ball into the hole. However, it is not actually that easy. There are so many variables that go into a good game, much like the number of factors that go into scoring a goal in soccer. Your attitude, your approach and your skill all influence your success in golf.

Senior James Imai knows how to achieve the goals he has set. He has earned so many accolades and accomplished so much that he is able to compete on the professional level. However, he would not have gotten to where he is without all the hard work that he has put in throughout the years.

You do not wake up one day suddenly crowned the junior golf player of the year in Massachusetts, or just qualify for the U.S. Amateur Championship. It is about the path you choose to take that leads you to your goal.

“A lot of people are like, ‘I want to get to here,’ and that’s all they worry about instead of how [they’re] going to get there,” Imai said. “The first thing you have to ask yourself is how you’re going to get there.”

According to Imai, in order to reach your goal, you need to stay disciplined and not lose sight of the process. It is tempting to get side-tracked because balancing school and at least three hours of golf every day can be stressful.

“It’s just recognizing that, yeah it might be fun to party and hang out with friends, but if you really want to take it seriously, you only have a certain amount of hours in a day. What are your priorities?” Imai said.

On average, Imai plays 11 to 15 tournaments each year, not counting the qualifiers he has to play, and each tournament is two to three days long. Right at the beginning of the year, Imai has his golf schedule planned out.

“If it’s something I have to qualify for, I anticipate that, and I hope to get in,” Imai said. “The way I decide my schedule is [by] the big tournaments. It’s like: this is then and here’s the qualifier. How am I going to design my schedule to prepare for all that.”

According to golf coach Burt Skvirsky, Imai is the best high school golfer in New England. Everyone on the team looks up to him because he is a great mentor and role model.

“His game is fantastic,” Skvirsky said. “He takes pride in it. He also takes pride in helping the other kids, trying to get them to improve. And they appreciate that. When a peer does it, it’s really remarkable.”

Imai’s varsity teammate, sophomore Mike Ford, explained the amount of effort Imai has put into the sport.

“He’s probably the most hard-working kid I know,” Ford said. “He’s super dedicated. Not only with golf but at making other kids better. His work ethic is above everyone else’s drastically.”

According to Imai, not every day will be perfect and he learns from his mistakes.

“You need to be tough, in terms of the fact you’re going to lose more than you win,” Imai said. “So it’s learning how to accept failures and turning that into positives in terms of, ‘what can I do better,’ instead of: ‘Crap! I sucked.’”

According to Imai, there will be days that are harder than others, but all he can do is give it his all.

“At the end of the day, all sports are a game and you are going to have your odds, you are going to have your lows,” Imai said. “The only expectations should be you go out there, you give it your all. Make sure you are preparing yourself the right way and if you do those things the results will resolve.”