Welsh champions celebrate launch of development plan

Equipment

Amy Boulden and Oliver Farr attend Golf Union of Wales launch at Celtic Manor

The Golf Union of Wales has unveiled a major project to help produce the next generation of elite players.

Launched at Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor Resort, the programme is the culmination of five years’ work by some of Wales’ best young coaches and has received the backing of the county’s top golfing talents.

Richard Dixon is the chief executive of the GUW and he described the launch as a “very important piece in the GUW jigsaw”.

‘It was always my dream to represent my country’
Working alongside Cardiff Metropolitan University, the scheme has been piloted at four clubs around Wales over the past year. With the results brought together to create an individual development plan, the hope is that centres and coaches that take part will be better prepared to help golfers fulfill their potential in the game.

Dixon said: “It’s not just about producing the Olly Farr’s and Amy Boulden’s of the future. This programme will enable us to equip people to better enjoy the game of golf.

“People are leaving the game because they are not seeing themselves getting any better. It’s an extremely tough game when you start playing and if you are paying your annual subs but not getting any better, it doesn’t take a bright mind to know why people might leave and try something else.”

The scheme has been called Developing Tomorrow’s Champions and it encompasses key functions across golf development, performance, coach education and championships.

So it was fitting that the launch was attended by Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year Amy Boulden and European Tour player Oliver Farr.

Both players were brought up through the Welsh national development system and gave their support to the plan.

Farr said: “I think there’s not as many golfers in Wales as anywhere else so we need to get more kids playing to get them to progress. We want people playing golf more, which will be better for everybody and for the golf industry in Wales, so hopefully this project will help.”

The new GUW scheme is aimed to encourage more youngsters to take up the game and then give them the skills to keep them interested.

One of the youngsters who has already caught the bug is eight-year-old Kian Orford from Langstone Primary School in Newport. He was one of the students to take part in the launch event and his mother, Claire, said: “Kian aspires to be like McIlroy and Woods. Through golf he’s learning to be resilient and to persevere, so it’s good for discipline. For example, if he doesn’t hit it well, he will want to have another go. It’s also a polite sport so the kids are well-mannered and after a match they all shake hands with each other.

“If you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, it’s a golfer.”

Should his budding career continue, Orford could follow in the footsteps of Amy Boulden, who is representing Wales at the pinnacle of the ladies’ game, alongside Becky Brewerton. Boulden said: “It was always my dream from a young age to represent my country, so seeing these kids today taking their first steps into golf is a great thing.”

One aspect of the programme is the Coaching Centres accreditation, which is aimed at giving all junior golfers the opportunity to learn the game under the tuition of a GUW-approved PGA professional. This process is intended to ensure quality and consistency across all centres in Wales.

Wales national coach Neil Matthews has designed the swing programme, Charlotte Williams has focused on the life skills aspect, and Zach Gould has specialized on movement and fitness.

For Zach, himself once one of Wales’ brightest young talents before he turned his attentions to coaching, the fitness aspect of golf is one of the most important benefits to playing the game.

He said: “Ten years ago children would come into the program fitter and stronger because they would be climbing trees and running round. Because of technology and computers, children aren’t as fit as they used to be”

Following the launch event, the coaching centres are being rolled out at 11 certified courses across Wales, with 21 accredited coaches putting the scheme into action.

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