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 Ladies' golf: more needs to be done

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Junior Golfer
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PostSubject: Ladies' golf: more needs to be done   Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:28 pm

Came across the interesting article below published in BT earlier. Also read about Choo Tze Huang's move to be based in KL. Seemed like being serious in golf here in Singapore is really really tough.

Published February 4, 2012

Ladies' golf: more needs to be done
There is potential in a number of young female golfers in Singapore but they need much more support. By Justine Moss

TEN of the top female amateurs in Singapore teed off earlier this week in the Host Country Qualifiers for the 2012 HSBC Women's Champions and the depth of talent was evident, with a number of them shooting impressive scores in the two-day event over one of Singapore's most challenging courses.

BUDDING TALENT Koh (left) and Tan (below) at this week's HSBC Women's Local Qualifying event at Tanah Merah Country Club. Koh won the event -- PHOTOS BY LUVIN A LIM
Koh Sock Hwee, who is ranked fourth on the Singapore Golf Association (SGA) Women's Order of Merit with a handicap of 1.4, emerged winner after a second round score of par 72 on the notoriously difficult Garden Course at Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC) to add to a first round of 80.

She will now represent Singapore against a field that includes the top players in women's golf, later this month. The 22-year-old finished two strokes ahead of rising talent Amanda Tan, 12, who had a leading first round score of 76 as well as a 78 on the second day. Amelia Yong, winner of the inaugural edition of the qualifying tournament in 2008, came in third with rounds of 77 and 82.

While SGA/SLGA national coach Brad McManus sees potential in a number of current players including Yong, Koh and Tan, he says there is room for improvement and much more needs to be done to produce a world beater in Singapore. 'I don't see anyone who is going to be the next number one but there's some really young girls about the age of nine or 10 who are starting to play some good golf now,' says McManus.

'I think definitely the coaching side of things here has improved over the past 10 years and in the last five years in particular.' He adds: 'I've noticed a big shift in the right direction, but as far as local talent goes, there's talent, but they need to be supported more than what they're currently getting.'

McManus' role is to travel with his charges, watch them play in tournaments, help them out with the mental side of golf and then report back to their coaches and let them know what he thinks they should be working on. Current strategies include looking at the players' bio-mechanics and making sure they're screened a lot physically, offer more mental preparation and practice and also strength conditioning.

Singapore Ladies Golf Association (SLGA) president Lam Lian Suan says that the recent jump into the professional ranks for Khee Jia Li, Heng Su-Ann and Christabel Goh is both exciting and promising. 'These girls were part of the SLGA training programme in their earlier years and we are excited that they have now embarked on golf as a profession,' says Mrs Lam. 'This is the most number of local female professionals we have in the country's young history. It is just the beginning and I believe we are seeing a changing landscape and a revolution in the way ladies' golf is perceived in Singapore. Our young girls are beginning to fare much better in the regional arena.'

Another opportunity for experience is playing in The Queen Sirikit Cup which is coming back to Singapore after 29 years and will also be played at TMCC's Garden Course from April 25-27.

'I do believe we can all do more to support our golfing athletes,' she says. 'We need to invest in sending our players to more events, ensure our presence at all high-level amateur tournaments such as the SEA Games and Asian Games,' explains Mrs Lam. 'This type of investment is crucial in creating a breed of champions. We cannot expect our players to perform well instantly as golfing excellence is a process. Golf is one of the sports we can succeed in on a global scale. Just look at the many Asian champions we have on the LPGA. We have to keep sowing more seeds, so that we can reap our harvest of champions in the future.'

But many agree that more needs to be done to highlight women's golf in Singapore. Yong, 19, says: 'There's not a lot of publicity and not a lot of support. Basically, we don't have a lot of facilities to work hard with so that's probably the reason that we don't do very well.' Yong, who plans to turn pro when she turns 22, adds: 'We need to make it more of a visible future for the girls. Most girls play sports and they don't see it as being a lifestyle, just fun, so even if they want to take it to the next level they don't know where to go, they don't know how to proceed with it. I think that in order for them who want to make it a lifestyle, it should be more publicised and promoted.'

Lim Jia Yi, 16, who finished in ninth spot in the qualifier, starts at Victoria Junior College this year and hopes to study at a US university and further her golf. 'I think in Malaysia the juniors get to play country clubs and just pay buggy fees so maybe Singapore can let the junior players go to different courses and let them try out and just pay the buggy fee,' she says. 'The way they train the players is very different in the US and Singapore - there is a much better level there and you get to compete much more.'

Koh, who is finishing her degree this year in Project and Facilities management at National University of Singapore, adds: 'Since we got into SGA we've been given a lot more playing opportunities which has really helped us because ultimately, no matter how hard you practise you have to go out there and the pressure is totally different. It's growing in the right direction for now and skills-wise I think it has, but probably we don't play as much as in neighbouring countries so in a tournament we always go in with the mindset that we're not going to win, but I think it has to slowly change.'

Last year, the SLGA took bold strides towards the unified national development of golf in Singapore when it decided to be an affiliate of the SGA. With this move, the SLGA now works together with the SGA on the development of elite female golfers in Singapore.

In addition to the SLGA Inter-Club League Games and the SLGA Amateur Open, there are now additional world-ranked events for the ladies organised by the SGA, such as the Singapore National Amateur Championship and the Singapore Junior Golf Championship.

'Through an effective order of merit programme, based on world amateur golf ranking points and national ranking games, we have a national squad comprising five of the best female golfers in Singapore,' says Mrs Lam. 'We also have a development squad, which comprises 10 talented players being groomed for the national squad. These elite players are given support and subsidies including opportunities to play in overseas tournaments.'

McManus says: 'As long as everyone is working in the right direction, there is absolutely light at the end of the tunnel. I'm at the beginning of something I think might take three or four years to implement properly and I've got to be patient. I've got to do it the Singaporean way as such and can't really come in and say 'bang that's how it has to be done' because it doesn't work and you get too much negativity given back to you. I'm trying to be patient and that's been my experience - living in Singapore for five years has effectively helped me now with this role.'

One who has raw talent in abundance is 12-year-old Tan, who has a handicap of 1.6 and is keen to turn professional when she's 17 or 18. 'I would love to balance education and golf but if I really have to sacrifice one for golf then I wouldn't mind - I would sacrifice education to play pro golf,' she says. 'My parents support me and they told me to carry on with that and subsequently I managed to go to Singapore Sports School and they have guided me.'

While the likes of Yong, Jia Yi and Tan intend to take the professional route, for the talented Koh that is not necessarily part of her future agenda. 'I've always given myself until I'm 25,' she says. 'It's not as easy as just saying 'I'm turning pro' '. First you have to get the skills because you really have to be good enough to win. Next you have to get sponsors and financial backing which is difficult because as a sponsor you want results as well. It's a long tough journey and I feel that if I'm not ready there's no point rushing.'

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Senior Golfer
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PostSubject: Re: Ladies' golf: more needs to be done   Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:04 pm

First of all, if you were to ask me, Men or Ladies Golf in Singapore are tarred with the same brush of it being:
- Elitist sport
- Prohibitively expensive sport
- A sport exclusively for the upper echlons of society
- "Old Man Game" for Old Men
- Uncool amongst young people due to (refer to above)...

What I think should be really done, is to promote golf in Singapore as a 'masses game'. That the set of golf clubs that are seen as expensive stuff actually costs the same as the gadgets we buy month after month.

But it doesn't really help when the media continually portrays golf being played between big businessmen and show that it is a game of excesses.

There's hope for Golf enthusiasts in Singapore... As long as it is shown in a positive light taking away the misconceptions and introducing it to schools across all levels...
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