Born in Honolulu, Hawaii of Korean descent, she began playing the game of golf at the age of four. In 2000, at the age of ten, she became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship when she made the field at the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. Two years later, she would be a semifinalist at the same event, the youngest to ever do so.
In 2002, Wie became the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA event, the LPGA Takefuji Classic. In 2003, she shot a 66 in a round at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, tying the amateur record for a women's major event. She also won the Women's Amateur Public Links in 2003, becoming the youngest person ever to win a USGA event for adults.
On January 15, 2004, Michelle Wie became only the fourth woman (and the youngest woman ever) to play in a PGA TOUR event, at the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club near Diamond Head in Hawaii. She shot rounds of 72 and 68 to finish at even par, missing the cut by one stroke.
The 6-foot-tall Wie, still only at the age of 14, has a average drive of about 280 yards (which is 25 yards further than Annika Sorenstam's average), and regularly is able to hit drives of over 300 yards, modeling her swing after Ernie Els, who has said of her, "give her another couple years to get stronger, she can play on the PGA TOUR." Her size and use of Els as a model have led sports media to call her The Big Wiesy, a play on Els' nickname of The Big Easy. Fred Couples has also had praise for her, saying, "when you see her hit a golf ball ... there's nothing that prepares you for it. It's just the scariest thing you've ever seen."