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James Lee named to Team Canada golf roster

The part-time Whistlerite has also committed to Princeton University

James Lee hits fairways on a regular basis, and his career is progressing as nicely as most of his tee shots do. 

Earlier this year, Lee was selected to Team Canada’s NextGen golf program. He turned heads with a blistering 2023 season that included back-to-back victories at the BC Junior and Northern California Junior tournaments to go along with silver at the Canadian Junior Championship. 

“It’s great,” said Lee. “To be on any national team is quite the honour, especially the Canadian one.” 

The 17-year-old is already a fairly decorated athlete. In addition to his No. 1 ranking in the B.C. Order of Merit, he was named the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) Junior Player of the Year in 2023. Lee splits his time between Whistler and Burlingame, Calif. and plays competitive hockey during winter months. 

His two main pursuits couldn’t be more different: the methodical, calculated slow burn of golf versus the fast, physical and team-oriented nature of hockey. Yet after his mom Jennifer (a former figure skater) put him on ice, he grew to appreciate both sports.

“Both teach you different life lessons and pose different mental challenges,” Lee said. “In hockey, you have to be disciplined and accountable to your team. You have to follow directions and a system, etc. In golf, it’s more about discipline and accountability to yourself. Patience is a big one.” 

‘A curious person’

Lee joined his first kids’ golf camp at Crystal Springs Golf Course in Burlingame when he was roughly seven years old. He remembers falling in love with the game quickly and spending hours at other Bay Area venues like Mariner’s Point, where staff members sometimes kicked him out for overstaying his assigned time slot. 

With two Canadian parents, Lee spent his childhood travelling between British Columbia, Ontario and California. His family eventually acquired a Whistler home and he wasted little time scoping out the Sea to Sky snow sports scene. Golf is still priority No. 1, however, and Lee has become versatile and even-keeled on course.

“I would say my game is built on accurate driving and a good short game,” he said. “I don't hit it really far, maybe a little above average, but then I chip and putt nicely. When my irons are on, I tend to have a good week.” 

At one point, Lee was coached by Golf Canada veteran Matt Wilson in Bear Mountain, brushing shoulders in the process with established men’s and women’s athletes. Joining the national team wasn’t front of mind back then, but he recognized it as a possibility. 

Five years later, he’s made it—with much more work still ahead. 

Golf is arguably one of the most difficult sports to achieve consistent success in, and virtually anyone can win any round on any given day. That’s how Lee approaches his tournaments: he needs to give his all, regardless of how his opponents are ranked or how he performed at the last event. 

Such an attitude will serve him well in the Ivy League both in and out of competition. Lee has committed to play for Princeton University in fall 2025 alongside fellow Canadian Eric Zhao, and eagerly awaits his first cuts at the NCAA Division I level. 

“I'm just a really curious person in general and I love learning new things about golf,” said Lee. “There’s so many different intricacies, and I enjoy spending five or six hours messing around to see what works. 

“Receiving awards is obviously very nice, but ultimately that's not what I play for. I play because I love the game and I want to get better. I want to be the best version of myself.”