GolfWA has appointed Craig Bishop and Jess Speechley as its new state coaching line-up for 2024.
The duo replace Andrew MacAuslan and Alex McKay, who have stepped back from their GolfWA roles due to business and family commitments. Bishop will coach the boys’ and men’s squads, with Speechley to oversee the women and girls.
Bishop brings a pedigree of developing high-performance athletes in both Australia and Japan, with established tour professionals Haydn Barron, Curtis Luck and Kirsten Rudgeley amongst those to have benefitted from his insights.
Speechley, meanwhile, is a teaching professional at Joondalup Resort who represented WA at amateur level, was the number one women’s amateur in Australia for two years, and a two-time recipient of the Karrie Webb Scholarship. After turning pro, she competed on the Japanese LPGA circuit between 2013-15 before injury curtailed her career.
The two have a long-standing working relationship, with Bishop having coached Speechley early in her pro career – something Speechley attributes to her claiming her first JLPGA title in 2014.
“It is with honor that I take up the role of state men’s and boy’s golf coach,” Bishop told GolfWA. “Along with Jess, I look forward to navigating the development of WA’s finest players in the ever-changing landscape of our sport.”
Speechley added: “I am very privileged to be taking on the role. I look forward to nurturing and developing the female players and I aim to focus on the long-term development of high-performance players for WA, while bringing my skills and knowledge from playing and competing on various tours.”
Hailing the appointments, Marc Pike, GolfWA’s Game Development and High Performance Manager, said: “Craig has demonstrable excellence in developing elite athletes over many years, while Jess has experience of competing at the highest levels.
“Between them, they will provide fantastic insight into elite competition and what it takes to succeed. This is a wonderful opportunity for our state squad athletes to rise to the challenge of being tested in the accountable, competitive and candid environment these two great coaches will create.”
Speechley raring to go
Speechley becomes the first woman to coach a WA state squad since Dale Wharton in the 1990s, which she believes could play a key role in unlocking the potential within the women’s and girls’ squads.
“It’s so important for women to work with other women,” Speechley told GolfWA. “For me personally, I feel more comfortable working with women because we can relate more and I can read them better emotionally. That can make a big difference.”
Speechley also believes that her experience as a touring professional gives her a valuable perspective that can only benefit the state’s up-and-coming female stars.
“I spent three years on the Japanese LPGA Tour and it’s tough,” she said. “No one prepared me for what life on tour would really be like, so I want to make sure I impart all my knowledge and experiences to the WA girls. For most players, the reality is that life on tour is not going to be easy. You have to have a deep passion for the game to make a go of it.”
The importance of having the right support structures in place is paramount for any player hoping to make a career on tour – something that Speechley herself learned from working with Craig Bishop over the past decade.
“Craig has been a great role model for me,” she said. “He helped me achieve my first pro win and pushed me to stick with golf and complete the PGA Bridging Program when I stopped touring.
“At that point in my career, I was lost. I’m very thankful that Craig kept pushing me to keep at it. Without him, I don’t think I’d still be in golf and I’m so glad I’m doing what I’m doing now.”