GolfWA chief executive Gary Thomas believes Western Australia’s growing reputation for producing world-class talent is reward for smart decisions made three decades ago.
A clear focus on junior golf was established to lay the long-term foundations for the success we are seeing now.
The likes of Minjee Lee, Curtis Luck and Hannah Green might not have even been born back then – all of them are aged 21 or younger – but Thomas believes that, coupled with the players’ hard work and top-class coaching, their success is reward for the lasting benefits that were set in place.
“I think it goes back quite a way – probably back to the mid-80s when WA was the first state to set up a junior foundation,” said Thomas, who was a special guest on this week’s “Inside The Ropes’ podcast.
“We set up the Graham Marsh Junior Golf Foundation in those days and every metropolitan club used to go to the junior tournament.
“From that day onwards junior golf took quite a focus at Western Australian clubs and a lot of junior programmes started in clubs.
“We have obviously produced a lot of good golfers, even in the nineties the likes of Steve Leaney and Greg Chalmers and Brett Rumford and Scotty Strange – we’ve probably never had the depth or a major winner yet – but I think part of it is clubs embraced junior programmes from the world go, they put a lot of work into their juniors, I think we had some very good coaches who maybe take on the coaching when they get to the next level.
“We obviously work closely with Golf Australia and their programme as well and I think that definitely helps.”
Thomas thinks Western Australia’s remote location also helps inspire a tougher breed of players, not to mention the significant travel that prepares them for life as a pro.
“There is a bit of a mentality, and I suppose it happens in all sports, that there is a bit of ‘us versus them’ attitude to do with WA,” he added.
“One of the things that we’ve always done is we’ve sent a lot of our players to play in events around the country for many, many years – the Riversdale Cup, Port Macquarie, the Queensland Amateur etc, so we’re always sending players away to get experience and I think that toughens them up and we send a few overseas as well.
“We tend to look after our players from that point of view but they do work very hard and we have some really good coaches in the system which helps, so I think it’s a blend of a range of things that has created the success that we’re having.”
Click on the link above to listen to the full interview with Gary as he covers a host of topics from the day Minjee Lee proved herself to a bunch of male professionals at Royal Fremantle to lessons learned from the ground-breaking World Super 6 Perth earlier this year.
The Inside The Ropes podcast, which is part-funded by GolfWA in conjuntion with Golf Australia and the other states, has already climbed into the top-five sport podcasts in Australia after just six weeks.
The podcast is hosted by renowned sports presenter Andy Maher, as well as Mark Hayes, Martin Blake, Jo Charlton and Alison Whitaker, and features West Aussie guests each week. Click here to subscribe via Apple Podcasts.
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