Vi­sion 54

HK Golfer - - China Focus -

Jonathan Wal­lett, Golf De­vel­op­ment Direc­tor of HKGA, be­lieves HK can be­come the Asian equiv­a­lent of Swe­den, which pro­duced ma­jor cham­pi­onship win­ning golfers such as An­nika Soren­stam and Hen­rik Sten­son.

Let’s take a look at the story of Swedish Golf. Un­til the mid1980s they had never had a win­ner on a Pro­fes­sional Tour - and why should they? They were not a golf­ing coun­try, and with short sum­mers and cold win­ters, it was an un­likely en­vi­ron­ment for suc­cess. Back in 1985, the Na­tional Coach was a young fe­male coach called Pia Nils­son. A vi­sion­ary as a coach, she iden­ti­fied that her most prom­i­nent task was to con­front this cul­tural be­lief that they were not a golf­ing coun­try and had lit­tle chance of suc­cess. She un­der­stood that this was a lim­it­ing be­lief that acted like a cloud around ev­ery player. At a Na­tional Train­ing Camp, she asked the play­ers if they had, at one time in their golf­ing life, had a birdie on the 1st hole of their home course. Ev­ery­one said yes, at one time or another he or she had had a birdie on the 1st hole. She then asked each player if they had had a birdie on hole 2 of their home course. They all said yes. She con­tin­ued this un­til hole 18 and then pro­nounced that if they had at one time or another had a birdie on ev­ery hole at their home course, then po­ten­tially they can score 54, 18 un­der par. Ev­ery­one laughed and said that would be im­pos­si­ble - but she re­torted why. Surely the­o­ret­i­cally it’s pos­si­ble if at one time or another each player had birdied ev­ery hole? The Vi­sion 54 con­cept was born, and the change was amaz­ing - it shows the power of be­lief and es­pe­cially cul­tural be­lief. A young player on that team was An­nika Soren­stam who went on to be­come World No.1 and prob­a­bly the great­est lady player in the his­tory of the game to date.

In essence what hap­pened is that Pia was able to in­stil a ‘no lim­its’ mind­set in her play­ers. It was a won­der­ful piece of big pic­ture coach­ing which changed the golf­ing land­scape for Swe­den for­ever - with Hen­rik Sten­son’s vic­tory at the 2016 Bri­tish Open the lat­est Swedish suc­cess of which there have been many over the last three decades.

Our mis­sion with the HK Player De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram is to in­stil a sim­i­lar ‘no lim­its’ mind­set and cre­ate a plat­form whereby HK Ju­nior Play­ers can choose their am­bi­tions in the game with­out lim­its - so this can range from just play­ing golf for fun, to gain­ing a Col­lege Schol­ar­ship, or at the high­est level to play suc­cess­fully pro­fes­sion­ally.

Tif­fany Chan’s me­te­oric rise is our best op­por­tu­nity to now es­tab­lish a men­tor for the next gen­er­a­tion and her pioneering ex­ploits - first as a golf­ing Olympian and then as the first HK player to be a holder of LPGA Tour Card - forge a path­way and a vi­sion for the lo­cal play­ers to as­pire. The seeds of this suc­cess were planted many years ago through the con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion of the Ju­nior De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram un­der the aus­pices of Na­tional Coach Brad Schade­witz, HKGA Com­mit­tee Mem­bers, Team Cap­tains, Pres­i­dents and past and cur­rent Chair­men’s such as Kelvin Inge, Wil­liam Chung, David Hui and Robert Keys.

His­tor­i­cally the HK Team av­er­age po­si­tion from 2010 to 2015 in team events was two-thirds of the way down the field - or 0.67 - so if there were 100 teams we would on av­er­age fin­ish 67th. Now over the last 12 months, we have fin­ished 4th in both the Men and Ladies World Univer­sity Team Cham­pi­onship, 4th in the China

Na­tional Games, 7th at the No­mura Cup and 9th at the World Univer­si­dad in Tai­wan last sum­mer against such heavy­weights as Eng­land, USA and Aus­tralia. In 2 team tour­na­ments, we fin­ished an ag­o­nis­ing one shot be­hind a medal po­si­tion, but the big pic­ture is if we con­tinue on the same tra­jec­tory over the next few years fur­ther suc­cess is all but guar­an­teed.

We are start­ing to build mo­men­tum. In­di­vid­ual play­ers like Leon D’Souza, who made the cut in the HK Open last De­cem­ber, re­cently won the NCAA Col­lege II In­di­vid­ual Cham­pi­onship in the USA. Matthew Che­ung fin­ished 2nd in the Western Aus­tralia Am­a­teur Cham­pi­onship ear­lier this year against a stel­lar field of 156 elite am­a­teurs. Ter­rence Ng re­cently tied for 1st place in the Se­lan­gor Masters in Malaysia and lost in a play­off. Taichi Kho won the HK Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship with a to­tal of -9 and had earned him­self a schol­ar­ship at the il­lus­tri­ous Notre Dame Univer­sity. In the Ladies sec­tion, Mimi Ho has played con­sis­tently well in the USA and is cur­rently at a ca­reer­high World Rank­ing. Be­hind her, Izzy Le­ung has been de­liv­er­ing pro­gress­ing re­sults with 5th in the World Univer­sity Cham­pi­onship and T22nd in the HK Ladies Open. Michelle Che­ung fin­ished 3rd in the Se­lan­gor Masters in Malaysia as well as T29 in the HK Ladies Open and no longer are our play­ers com­pet­ing in the tour­na­ment just to make up the field. Be­hind th­ese front-line play­ers are tal­ented and smart work­ing young­sters like Chloe Chan, Gin­nie Ding and Selina Li to name but a few.

To pre­cip­i­tate this suc­cess, it re­quires pro­cesses, struc­ture and sys­tems based on our 4 Quad­rants Player De­vel­op­ment Model. The first quad­rant is Ac­cess - and 24 Golf Mem­ber­ships from HKGC, four from CWB as well as in­creas­ing course ac­cess at all HK golf fa­cil­i­ties has been a game changer. The sec­ond quad­rant – tour­na­ments – has pro­gressed and our top play­ers are get­ting the op­por­tu­nity through the HKGA of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion to have rich ex­pe­ri­ences play­ing against the top play­ers both re­gion­ally and glob­ally.

The last 2 quad­rants – Coach­ing and In­struc­tion – have pro­gressed whereby we have camps at HKGC util­is­ing worl­drenowned ex­perts like Golf Psy­chol­o­gist Dr Brian Hem­mings (for­merly Lead Psy­chol­o­gist to Eng­land Golf for 17 years and nur­tured the tal­ents such as Tommy Fleet­wood, Danny Wil­lett, Ross Fisher and Chris Wood) and Biomech­a­nist Ryan Lums­den (play­ers like Min­jee Lee, Ly­dia Ko, Hen­rik Sten­son and Thomas Pi­eters).

Play­ers in the HK Tal­ent Team get reg­u­lar and on­go­ing coach­ing with me, and we are now launch­ing the HK Ju­nior Tal­ent Team whereby in the fu­ture the best 11-16 years old will gain ac­cess to th­ese con­sul­tants.

Then per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment is the emer­gence of the HKGA Con­tracted Coach­ing Team over the last two years – whereby 8 to 10 lo­cal HKPGA coaches are now reg­u­larly in­volved in de­liv­er­ing the HKGA class pro­gram on a weekly ba­sis mar­shalled by HKGA Ju­nior De­vel­op­ment Man­ager Ducky Tang. This has al­lowed us to start build­ing a cob­web at the lower and mid­dle lev­els of the Player Fun­nel and whilst we are the first to ac­knowl­edge there is a long way to go there is more ac­tiv­ity at ev­ery level sea­son by sea­son. Along­side this, ex­cel­lent pri­vate coaches are work­ing at golf fa­cil­i­ties in HK who have made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to Player De­vel­op­ment in HK.

Could HK be­come the Asian equiv­a­lent of Swe­den? In sev­eral decades time, we may not be churn­ing out the quan­tity of play­ers Korea or Ja­pan does. How­ever, I firmly be­lieve with the right struc­ture and pro­cesses in place we can be the jewel of Asia re­gard­ing quality and have male play­ers com­pet­ing in tour­na­ments like the Masters and Bri­tish Open, and fe­male play­ers win­ning on the LPGA. Af­ter all, HK is a high achiev­ing so­ci­ety, so let’s strive to be­come the Asian equiv­a­lent of Swe­den in Europe and break down the cul­tural bar­ri­ers and ab­sorb a no-lim­its mind­set.

Leon D’Souza not just made the cut in the HK Open last De­cem­ber, and also re­cently won the NCAA Col­lege II In­di­vid­ual Cham­pi­onship in the USA

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