Source: The PGAs of Europe - Player development – from beginner to winner - was the theme of the groundbreaking first day of the PGAs of Europe Annual Congress in Murcia, Spain.
Groundbreaking because this year’s Congress, held at La Serena Golf Resort, was the first time the PGAs of Europe, European Golf Association and European Tour had been involved with the event simultaneously.
That was recognised by Spain’s minister of tourism for the Murcia region, Jose Alberto Cruz (right), in his welcome address to the 100-plus delegates.
“It is a great honour for us to host this latest edition of the Congress,” he said. “Welcome to the region of Murcia.”
Earlier, PGAs of Europe chief executive Ian Randell, in opening the Congress had thanked Murcia for hosting the event and flagged up two massive opportunities for PGAs worldwide.
“The decision to include golf in the 2016 will add value to the game and is something we must capitalise on,” he said.
“And the formation of the World PGA Alliance is a fantastic chance to show the power of the PGA as a global brand.”
By contrast, the opening presentation – ‘A Moving History of Golf’ by Peter Lewis, director of Film Archive, The R&A, - was a world away from global brands and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
To be pedantic, featuring the first film of a golf match – between William Park Jnr and William Fernie in 1898 – it was more than a century apart.
The presentation chronicled how the filming and broadcasting of golf evolved to the present day but it was the early footage that proved the most fascinating, not least the large crowds present at the Fernie and Park encounter and subsequent exhibition matches between Harry Vardon and James Braid.
Converting spectators and enthusiasts into active golfers – all 25 million of them – formed the basis of ‘Get Golf Ready’, the opening presentation to the ‘Increasing Participation’ segment of the day’s programme.
Delivered by Paul Metzler of the PGA of America, the presentation detailed the steps taken and methods used, including a dedicated website www.playgolfamerica.com and reality TV Show to boost participation in the game in the USA.
Holland is another country that has embarked on a golf ‘recruitment’ drive and, as Jeroen Stevens of the Netherlands Golf Foundation revealed, the results have been spectacular.
The number of people playing the game in Holland has more than doubled in nine years, rising from 140,000 in 2000 to 330,000 today. Moreover, the climb is showing few signs of slowing down.
“We had 20,000 new golfers last year and there have been 17 to 18,000 so far this year,” he said. “We’re hoping to have 450,000 by 2015.”
‘Player Development’ followed ‘Increasing Participation’ and opened with Kyle Phillpots (GB&I PGA), Glenn Cundari (PGA of Canada) and Johan Hampf (PGA of Sweden) hosting a panel discussion.
Cundari explained how Canada differentiates between golf coaches and teachers, Hampf defined the role of a coach as “moving a person from A to B” and Phillpots added: “Coaching must be for the needs of the player, not the coach.”
Three presentations on aspects of coaching followed the discussion. Swedish-born Peter Mattsson of the English Golf uni0n discussed ‘Performance Coaching and Preparing a Schedule’; Matt Bridge of Birmingham University revealed his thoughts on a key element of the coaching process in respect of elite players ‘Building a team’; and ‘Player Development’ an irreverent but thought-provoking and amusing presentation from another Birmingham University lecturer, Richard Bailey, debunked several coaching myths.
Alain de Soultrait, from the European Challenge Tour, opened the section on Tournament Progression with ‘From Elite Amateur to the Ryder Cup’ and then joined Sandy Jones (PGA Europro Tour), Rainier Goldrian (EPD Tour), Donato di Ponziano (Alps Tour) and Michael Sorling (Nordic League) in discusisng the question: ‘(Are) National and Satellite Tours effective partnership models?’.
The day’s programme ended by, to an extent going full circle, with a video interview with The R&A chief executive Peter Dawson on ‘Golf in the Olympics’ and was followed by a debate as to how golf should capitalise on the Olympic opportunity.
Source: The PGAs of Europe
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