James Lepp hails from Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada – a suburb of Vancouver. Success in golf is nothing new to James. A four time All-American at the University of Washington, he won the 2005 NCAA Individual Championship, the first Canadian male to win a national championship. In total James won seven times in college and twice on the Canadian Tour, but in 2010 he burned out and decided he needed a break from competitive golf. He turned his focus to bringing the golf world some youthful and stylish footwear options, and Kikkor Golf was born. Having met James a few years ago at the PGA Show in Orlando, it was a treat to follow his progress on the Golf Channel reality show The Big Break and we are proud to be ambassadors for the Kikkor brand. We sat down with James to talk a little bit about his experience.
ITG: How long have you been playing golf, and how did you get your start?
James: I’ve been playing since I was 4 years old, so 25 years! Yikes! I started by joining my dad on the course in the evenings.
ITG: When did you know you wanted to be a professional golfer?
James: Since I was 4 really. I always loved it growing up.
ITG: Did your time on the Big Break differ from your expectations of the event? What did you expect and what surprised you about your time at the Greenbrier?
James: I’m used to preparing for anything so nothing jumped out at me really. Perhaps what surprised me the most was how I remained nervous throughout each episode. I thought I would get into a rhythm, but every shot on every day was gut wrenching.
ITG: What can you tell people about the Big Break experience that we may not know from watching it on TV?
James: The Big Break is a massive production. There are over 100 Golf Channel staff at the site. They don’t mess around.
ITG: How has being on the Big Break changed your career?
James: It’s still pretty fresh so I’m not sure how it’s changed yet. We’ll see next year I suppose.
ITG: How did your shoe company, Kikkor Golf get started?
James: I started Kikkor because there was an unmet need in the market. Golf shoes sucked a few years ago. There needed to be something that was cool and comfortable.
ITG: Can you tell us something funny and/or interesting about you that most people don’t know?
James: I got my head caught on a chain link fence while playing roller hockey a couple years ago. It ripped part of my scalp off, but I played the rest of the game with a t-shirt wrapped around my head.
ITG: What advice can you give to young people who want to follow in your footsteps and become a professional golfer or businessman?
James: Don’t do it because you’re expected to do it. Do it because you want it.
ITG: Who or what has been the biggest influence in your career?
James: My DNA really. I’ve always learned and done things in my own little way. Not to say that others haven’t influenced me, but the way I think is pretty unique.
ITG: If you could play golf with anyone – past or present – who would be in your foursome? What course would you play?
James: Augusta National. Play with Jack, Tiger, and Rory.
ITG: If you could change any rule in golf, what rule would you change and why?
James: Not being allowed to type down spike marks is pretty stupid. Did you know that metal spikes cause the least amount of ‘bumps’ on a putting green? It’s just the few nasty ones they create that causes all the trouble. If we could tap those down we’d have better greens overall. Plus you’d have a natural aerating system.
ITG: What’s the strength of your game? And where do you feel you need to improve?
James: Strength is in my course management and being able to think my way around a course. The area that needs improvement is probably my driving.
ITG: What’s on your iPod right now?
James: I listen to sports talk radio (TEAM 1040). I don’t have time to even know what kind of music I like. Lame, I know.
ITG: If golf didn’t exist, what would you be doing right now?
James: Inventing golf! Ha. I’d probably be a soccer player.
ITG: In ten years, James Lepp will be…
James: 39 and a multiple winner on the PGA Tour.
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