Six national federations in Asia have benefitted from a Leading Golf programme to assist in their planning and development process to grow golf in their respective countries.
The R&A commissioned Atlantic Sports Management & Technology (ASMT) to develop and deliver the programme for Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, with the original aim to follow the model developed in Europe with pre-work and then a workshop.
However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme evolved into a fully online process from September 2020 until February 2021, providing an online forum and platform for the six federations to reflect on their current strategic direction, key challenges and to share ideas and best practice to help in the development of golf in their country.
The programme was delivered in four stages: Needs Analysis; Online Planning Sessions; Plan and Action; Follow Up and 1:1 Mentoring. The key themes and areas for consideration were focused on the Development of Junior Golf; Elite Golf; and Strategy and Communications.
The vision for each of the federations involved was pivotal to this work:
- Chinese Taipei: To increase the golf population and fight for medals in the Asian Games/Olympics
- Indonesia: Talent pools at grassroots and junior level, progressing to elite amateur and professional players
- Malaysia: Increase the number of active golfers / create a more sustainable revenue stream
- Philippines: Improve golf participation among various demographics / improve high performance programmes at all levels / improve the golf economy
- Thailand: Increase golfers and competitive tournaments / make golf more affordable
- Vietnam: Build a strong national team within 10 years / raise the number of golfers and the competitive level of players / develop the golf industry and support tourism
Five of the federations actively engaged in the programme (Chinese Taipei; Indonesia; Malaysia; Philippines; and Vietnam), with Thailand participating in different stages.
The progression of the federations from the initial meeting and audit stage to their final presentations was impressive. They engaged fully in the process and by the end were able to articulate a clear vison and plan, with each federation producing a summary presentation and one-page summary action plan.
Key summary outcomes related to innovation and approach to investment also revealed the following:
- The willingness of the federations to seek and secure resources internally through their own membership/wealthy benefactors and national agencies to support the development of the game in their countries as opposed to relying on The R&A to fund them
- A clear sense of innovation and new thinking
- The federations realised from the case studies and information presented they could learn and replicate from leading federations once they understood
- Innovative ideas for developing Junior Golf e.g. Chinese Taipei ‘Rooting Programme’, the Philippines’ ‘Alpha Golf Programme’ and Vietnam’s three-phased approach to Junior development
However, a number of key issues were identified including: the cost of accessing facilities in their countries for juniors; a lack of tee times; and competition from other sports such as football.
A relatively small number of registered golfers, not all golfers with a handicap and the time to play were also identified as challenges. Significantly, the lack of a Director of Golf was also highlighted.
Key recommendations for the federations were therefore identified:
- Recruiting and appointing a Director of Golf to lead the development of golf and programmes needs to be a key priority
- Training coaches to growing the game term – partnership and connecting with the relevant PGAs and coaches will be key
- Building on what is regarded best practice is essential. Federations are keen and willing to learn and build on the programme. Sharing knowledge and information internally in each country with golf stakeholders and the leadership will make a big difference
- Setting short, sharp clear, realistic action plans are required – linked to use of online tracking and technology where possible; will greatly ensure the ideas are translated into reality
- Developing a formal strategic partnership with the leading countries in terms of golf development and expertise in the Asia Pacific region will make a big difference. This is underway e.g. Vietnam and Australia at personal levels
Dominic Wall, Director – Asia Pacific at The R&A, said, “The Leading Golf programme involving the six federations in Asia proved very successful. The transition from a direct face to face workshop to creating an online learning forum worked as well as it could and there is an opportunity for blended learning with a mix of both formats in time.
“The time to prepare, reflect, share information and then present seemed to engage and allow the federations to grow and share ideas and we hope they can build on the work achieved to continue to develop their golf strategies.”
Bones Floro, Secretary General – National Golf Association of The Philippines, added, “We would like to thank and congratulate The R&A for the recently concluded Leading Golf Programme.
“Despite the obvious limitations to have a physical, face-to-face seminar, The R&A was exceptional in providing and discussing pertinent, relevant and up-to-date information in various topics that we will apply in our respective countries.
“In addition, the individualised break-out sessions have been a tremendous help for our organisation in establishing new programs to further develop the game locally. We will work tirelessly to establish synergy between our organisation, The R&A and our South East Asian brothers and sisters in our shared vision for using golf as a tool to improve our communities as best we can. We look forward to our continuing partnership with The R&A and are truly excited for the years to come.”