Indonesian golf has gained support from world golf governing body The R&A for its development program in the hopes of bearing more strong golfers in the future.
The Indonesian Golf Association (PGI), under the chairmanship of Murdaya Widyawimarta, known as Po, has brought in professionals from The R&A to assist in refining and developing the country’s golf from an early stage.
“The initiative came from Pak Po. He asked and then we said, ‘How can we help?’” The R&A’s director for Asia-Pacific, Dominic Wall, told reporters over the weekend at the association’s office in the Pondok Indah Golf Course-Golf Gallery Building, Jakarta.
The R&A, which takes its name from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, is the ruling authority of golf throughout the world except in the US and Mexico, where this responsibility rests with the United States Golf Association (USGA). It works in collaboration with national amateur and professional golf organizations in more than 110 countries.
The R&A cooperates with the USGA in producing and regularly revising the “Rules of Golf”, and the two bodies have issued the rules jointly since 1952. The rules are revised on a four-year cycle and with the latest edition, which became effective on Jan. 1, 2012, for the first time a single common set of rules applied throughout the world.
Dading Soetarso, a PGI official in charge of development affairs for young golfers, said that the program had been launched due to concerns about low growth rates of junior golfers in the country.
“Out of around 250 million people in Indonesia, we only have 250 junior golfers. Therefore, we need to do something to grow the sport — one among many things is by attracting children to reach golf,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Wall said he had learned that Indonesia had an enormous potential in golf.
“Indonesia is like a sleeping giant of golf around the region. You got so many things in place here. It’s just a matter of refining the system and providing maybe some more expertise to help people here to understand how to develop the sport,” said the Australian.
Wall, who took up his current position in 2009 and has since been based in Hong Kong, further said that Indonesia’s success in collecting one bronze and two silver medals in the golf competition at the recent Southeast Asian Games in Singapore in June, which came about after a six-to-nine-month elite program, testified to his conviction about the country’s potential for thriving golf.
At the biennial multisport event featuring athletes from the 11 countries in the region, Indonesian golfers were ranked in the top three after Thailand (four gold, one bronze) and Singapore (two silver, two bronze) in golf.
“I think the potential is there if you have the right system in place. You’ve got wonderful golf courses across the country, you’ve got practice facilities, and I think now you’ve got a supportive PGI through Pak Po […] to build a healthy situation [for the development of Indonesian golf]. The future of Indonesian golf is exciting,” said Wall, who is tournament director for the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation.
Wall has more than 20 years of experience in national- and international-level sports management, which includes 16 years in a number of roles for the Australian Golf Union (AGU) and Golf Australia (GA). He also spent five years as development manager for the Australian Coaching Council based at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
As an initial step of the development program, the PGI has begun introducing the sport to young students at several schools in Greater Jakarta.
Wall said that he saw positive responses from children following the PGI team’s visits to schools to introduce the sport. “The program is dedicated after school-hour sessions. If the kids are really enjoying it, I think it’s going to be great to have the program on a weekly basis.”
In providing ongoing support to children with potential golf skills, Wall suggested the program could also work hand in hand with local golf clubs. “I think it’s great for the school kids to experience playing on a golf course — not necessarily at cost, but maybe something that a golf club can provide on times that the course isn’t busy.”
In return, he said, golf courses could enjoy benefits as those children might become their members in the future. Clubs are encouraged to grow the sport — starting from the junior players — in order to grow the business.
The R&A and the PGI are currently working closely to refine and develop the program, which is expected to be done by the end of this year. If things go well, the program is set to run within six to 12 months next year, which could then provide the development team with key indicators of performance in order to grow the program across the country.
“We’re very much now focusing on the internal view of The R&A on performance targets, measures and accountability. I think the environment is quite right to do [so],” said Wall.
Dading said that the program was packaged in a fun and exciting activity in order to create excitement among children.
The program has so far reached children at the Global Jaya and Binus private schools in Greater Jakarta. Dading said the PGI may host a school-level competition when more than 10 schools were involved in the program.
Source: The Jakarta Post