At just 21 years old, Yealimi Noh is still establishing herself as a professional golfer. And yet, in the blink of an eye, she gained a lot of credibility in an emerging space where golf and fashion intersect. This is because West Coast golf brand Malbon Golf introduced her as their first official ambassador, part of the brand’s push into the women’s golf market.
While there are options like Nike and adidas for female golfers, the selection of streetwear-influenced pieces is decidedly smaller. Noh understands the potential his partnership with the Los Angeles brand has to reach new golfers, as well as the broader power of fashion to change the game.
The question remains, who is the woman who went from relative unknown to poster child for Malbon Golf’s foray into womenswear overnight? For starters, she was born and raised in the Bay Area, dropping out of college to turn pro at just 17 years old. Noh qualified for the LPGA Tour the following year in 2020, and now she is approaching her fourth season on tour, where she will wear the Malbon cube logo for the first time.
Hypegolf sat down with the up-and-coming professional golfer to talk about why she teamed up with Malbon, how she lives her life on and off the course, when she got started in the sport and much more.
Golf is becoming more fashionable and a lot more people are starting to care about what they wear to the golf course now.
How did you start in golf?
I was about 7 or 8 years old and my father had just started playing, so he took me to the shooting range. I think it’s weird to have started golfing with a parent at the same time, but it’s been a nice experience to improve, learn and have fun with each other.
Who were some of your role models in golf or sports growing up?
A role model I had growing up, like most golfers, would be Tiger Woods. His aura, his work ethic, his determination and many more aspects are qualities that any athlete would like to possess and replicate.
What made you want to be a professional golfer? And when did you know?
When I realized how much I loved playing in front of people and showing off my skills, that’s how I knew. The summer before I turned pro, I had to make a decision to continue college golf or start my professional journey. That was a difficult decision but a milestone in my life, and I think it was the right decision for me.
What has been your favorite moment of your career so far?
My favorite moment in my career so far would be having my best major result at my favorite event, the Evian Championships in France. Getting the chance to compete in that field and just enjoying every minute, whether it be stressful times or just appreciating the beauty of Lake Geneva and (French) bread of course.
What does it mean to be the first ambassador of Malbon Golf?
It means a lot to me. I feel very honored and grateful that they have chosen me to represent their style and motto. Malbon has a unique vibe and I hope to portray her well on and off the golf course.
What attracts you to the brand?
Malbon’s effortlessly cool, casual style is what really drew me to the brand. The way some pieces are oversized and comfortable, but still very trendy. I also like how the styles vary from preppy to athletic and laid back. I won’t have to stick to one style and will be able to express myself more with Malbon.
How would you describe your personal style on the golf course and how does it compare or differ from your style off the course?
I would say my personal style on the golf course would be simple and elegant. Which would be similar to my style off the field.
Are there any other golfers, male or female, past or present, that you think are particularly well dressed?
I would say that Paula Creamer had the best style as a golfer.
Do you think style and fashion have the potential to change golf?
Definitely, and I’d say it already has drastically. Golf is becoming more fashionable and a lot more people are starting to care about what they wear to the golf course now. And not exactly the “traditional” look, I feel like a big change has been that brands are starting to offer more clothing that would be considered “lifestyle” clothing. For example: hoodies, joggers, and collarless shirts are now very acceptable on the course, when in the past they would not have been.
We’ve seen you rock the Air Max 90 G on some occasions and the Air Zoom Infinity on others. How do you decide which one to wear on any given day? Will you add a new model to your repertoire?
Ever since I first tried the Air Zoom Infinity, I’ve loved it. They’re the kind of golf shoes that don’t take a lot of getting used to, so it’s super convenient when you know a new pair of shoes will be comfortable for walking right away. It also has a sporty and clean look to it, so I find it easy to pair with any outfit. The Air Max 90 is also really cool, mainly because it comes in more colors, which is nice to match outfits. I’ll probably stick with those two styles for this year until I find something that’s equally comfortable and looks good.
Whether it’s the fashion, the competition, or the people you connect with, golf has a lot to offer and it’s time for women to be a bigger part of it.
What do you like to do when you’re not playing golf?
I like spending quality time with friends and family. Since I have a very busy schedule throughout the year, I find it very important to make time to connect with the people I care about. Doing normal things like dining out, movies and shopping are things I really appreciate. As much as I enjoy traveling and golfing around the world, taking a break and relaxing is essential.
Do you think of yourself as a golfer first?
I like to think of myself as a person rather than a golfer. I feel like there’s a fine line between the two and it can get blurry at times. Everyone looks at the Yealimi golfer and I have my own expectations and goals as a professional golfer. However, it is very important to me to always keep my mental health in check and remind myself that I am more than just a golfer and luckily I am lucky to have amazing people around me who help me keep track of that. . I still believe I have areas to grow as a person and as a golfer, but I will enjoy the process and cherish every second of it.
In your opinion, what will it take for women’s golf to continue to grow?
I think it’s really important for golf to develop a more youth-friendly image for women’s golf to continue to grow. We need to show girls how fun and engaging golf can be. Whether it’s the fashion, the competition, or the people you connect with, golf has a lot to offer and it’s time for women to be a bigger part of it.