Words by Danielle Black Lyons. Photos by Surf Simply
When Tiffany Joh was 12, her dad dropped her off at a Rancho Bernardo junior golf program before he taught summer classes at SDSU. “It was basically free babysitting” Joh laughs. Little did either of them know that; Joh would fall in love with the sport and eventually end up on the LPGA tour.
“I started competing in little local tournaments, and as I got better, started playing state and national-level events,” says Joh of her early golf experience. Joh was just trying to get good enough to get a college scholarship, which she did. It wasn’t until around her junior year of college that; she started thinking about the possibility of playing professionally.
“I turned pro basically the day I graduated from UCLA. I literally missed my department graduation because I packed my car and drove to Iowa for a Tour tournament.”
Joh, 29, is all grown up now and continues to play professionally. She has also managed to find another passion off of the turf; surfing.
Like her golfing career, Joh’s surfing career started out by chance. She went on an all women’s surf retreat, through Surf with Amigas, which is run by pro surfer Holly Beck Obermeyer. The weeklong adventure took her to Nicaragua in 2012 and according to Joh was the best week of her life.
As soon as she came home to San Diego, “crazy stoked” on surfing, she bought a 9-foot Degree33 Ultimate epoxy board and started surfing at La Jolla Shores.
“After a few weeks in the water, I was out in the lineup one day and overheard a very enthusiastic girl in the water talking to another girl about the same retreat I’d gone on,” says Joh. That enthusiastic voice turned out to belong to none other than Allison Cecil, the then-vice-president of San Diego Surf Ladies (SDSL).
“I remember I paddled up to Allison and exclaimed “Oh my god, was it the best week of your life?!” recalls Joh. And Allison replied, “Oh my god, best week of my life!”
“That was our first conversation,” laughs Joh.
Joh continues to incorporate surfing into her busy golf schedule. If there’s a surf break near the golf course where she is playing, she often rents a board to paddle out.
“When we played in Hawaii last year, I would paddle out in the mornings at a nearby break if I had an afternoon tee time,” says Joh. “Best warm-up ever.“
“And when we played in San Francisco, Pacifica was pretty close to the course so I paddled out there a couple times.”
“When we played in Portland, I drove an hour and a half to Cannon Beach to surf,” she continues “And in Asia I had a week off in between Malaysia and China so I went to Bali for a couple days and flew back to China early to surf Riyue Bay on Hainan Island.”
When it comes to local breaks, Joh names La Jolla Shores as a favorite. She has been known to frequent a secret spot in North County as well.
“I evaluate surf breaks on accessibility,” laughs Joh. “I love La Jolla Shores because there is ample parking and no stairs. Unnecessary cardio can be a deal breaker for me.”
A natural on a longboard, Joh recently bought a 9’4″ Josh Hall through Craigslist last year.
“I saw the ad, but was in Texas playing a tournament, so I had my friend meet the person selling it in the parking lot of Tourmaline,“ says Joh. “It was funny because I was concerned for my friend’s safety since Craigslist can be kind of sketchy, so I told her to bring pepper spray. It turns out the person selling it was Bing team rider Mele Saili; she was selling some old boards to fund her trip to Bali for the Deus 9 Foot and Single Log Fest. Saili had brought along a friend just in case, too.
When Joh is not on tour she resides in Poway where she practices at Maderas golf course. You’ll know when you’ve found her as she can usually be seen wearing an animal onesie and her golf clubs are stamped with the slogan “I’d rather be surfing.”
You can follow the very funny Tiffany Joh on Instagram at the handle; tiffjoh
About San Diego Surf Ladies
Founded in 2004 in San Diego, California, San Diego Surf Ladies (SDSL) is the only all female surf club in Southern California. SDSL is part of the Coalition of Surf Clubs (CSC), an international organization of surf clubs that support clean water locally and globally. For more information on sponsorship opportunities or to become a member, visit our website at http://sandiegosurfladies.com/membership