Lost and Found: How Golf Academy of America Students Reunited I.K. Kim with Her Missing Golf Bag

Apr 11, 2018

How Golf Academy of America Students Reunited I.K. Kim with Her Missing Golf Bag

When Jeff Fenstermacher found a professional LPGA bag in a used sporting goods store, he thought he hit the jackpot. For the reasonable price of $59.99, he got a real professional’s golf bag, complete with all sorts of personal paraphernalia — a book, a money clip, a range finder, golf balls, tees and more. Excited by his find, he put his own clubs in the bag and took it to his Advanced Short Game class with him at Golf Academy of America in San Diego.

Fenstermacher’s classmate, Paul Sumagaysay, immediately recognized the name on the bag. In-Kyung Kim, or I.K. Kim, as she is known to her many fans, is a successful LPGA professional. Sumagaysay, an avid PGA and LPGA fan, also thought the bag was cool — but he thought something was fishy.

“I thought, something is just not right, because that’s definitely I.K. Kim’s bag. Why wouldn’t she have it?” Sumagaysay recounts.

He went home and did some investigative work. Alison Whitaker, the TV commentator, had posted a “What’s in the Bag?” video segment with I.K. Kim. Sure enough, the bag was the same. Fenstermacher had I.K. Kim’s golf bag.

The Search for I.K. Kim

Kim’s bag had gone missing weeks beforehand on an American Airlines flight. Because she thought it was lost, she never filed a police report. Play It Again Sports, which has a policy of holding items for 30 days in case a report is filed, did not realize the bag was stolen goods.

After studying the old “What’s in the Bag?” video to learn what Kim had kept in her bag, the classmates decided to take action. Golf Academy of America Instructor Jacqui Nicoletti-McSorley, who is also a Class A LPGA member, helped guide her students in the right direction.

“We called Play It Again Sports to tell them,” Fenstermacher explains. “I did the report over the phone.”

The next day, Sumagaysay and classmate Jacky Barfield headed down to Play It Again Sports to see if they could find any of I.K. Kim’s other missing belongings.

“We walked out of there with three wedges and two hybrids,” says Barfield. “I took them to my place. In the meantime, I was reaching out to I.K. via social media.”

After unsuccessfully attempting to contact Kim directly on Instagram and Facebook, Barfield noticed a user on his Instagram with a familiar name: Hanwha Q CELLS. It was the same name as the one printed on Kim’s belongings. A light bulb went off, and he reached out. Within minutes, Barfield had a response. After some back and forth, he and the Hanwha Q CELLS representative decided the Golf Academy of America trio would meet with Kim at the Carlsbad police station the following Tuesday morning.

When the students showed up at the police station, Kim was already there. She was thrilled to be reunited with her bag and clubs, posting an Instagram video detailing her excited retrieval of her belongings.

“There are good people out there,” Kim said.

For Fenstermacher, Barfield and Sumagaysay, returning the stolen belongings was a no-brainer. All three had been in Kim’s position in the past.

“We’ve all had clubs taken that were important,” says Fenstermacher.

“It makes me feel good that we’re able to give someone back something they lost that’s really meaningful,” adds Sumagaysay. “For a golfer, these are their tools of the trade.”

Barfield concurs.

“It was just the right thing,” he says.

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