KUCHING: Kelab Golf Sarawak (KGS) is actively pursuing the vision of producing an Olympic star one day with its Junior Golf Development Programme.
The programme, which commenced in 2014, has already rolled out a number of young, rising stars.
The most notable is Angel Hii who recently represented and helped Malaysia win the silver medal at the South East Asian Amateur Team Championship in Hanoi, Vietnam from July 24 to 27.
“We are running one of the most successful junior development programmes on Borneo island as we have a full-time coach, the necessary facilities and staff support for it,” said KGS captain Henry Chuo Kuong Hang.
“I think it is successful because we have the numbers – we have currently 106 juniors – and we are proud to say that half of the MSSM Sarawak golf team this year are from KGS.
“This year they are doing very well and came in second and third overall in the girls team and boys team,” Chuo added.
He is confident that with the strong support from club members and management committee, KGS is eyeing more of the club’s juniors represent Sarawak in Sukma and Malaysia in international competitions.
“Hopefully, we will have a golfer representing Malaysia one day in the Olympics who is from KGS.
“We also have players from the programme who have represented Sarawak at the last Sukma and now in the shadow team for Sukma Johor next year.
He mentioned Aziel Teo, Angelie Jerembai Ong, Asha Nabeela, Saxon Hii and Matthew Peregrine Ong.
“Other up and coming youngsters include Mohd Hadith Mohd Amirul Fazlan, Mohd Hizam, Lia Rajemah, Harold Tok, Ho Yun Xi, Eva Puyang Daeng and Joshua Lim,” said Chuo.
Trainees in the junior development programme coached by Malkit Singh are aged between five and 15 and from various schools.
The programme also accept children from non-members.
“The main objective of our junior development programme was to initially to teach our kids how to play golf.
“But more than playing golf, they also learn the etiquettes and rules of golf. We train them to handle the game psychologically and emotionally and let them learn all the values of any sport,” added Chuo.
“I believe this game will teach them to become fine men and women in years to come.
“We want to train as many young golfers as possible and as you know golf is a dying game with the young boys and girls having to play any game they like,” he explained.
Chuo point to the KGS facilities, set-up, pro coach and supporting staff as key to make the programme work.
“Of course, there are some other costs to be incurred but we believe it is worth it because we are actually grooming our juniors to be future stars and better persons.”
The Junior Golf Development Programme constitutes one of the most important sub-committees in the club.
“We have Angel Hii who represented Malaysia and won amateur tournaments that carry the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) points and we want to see our boys doing that too,” said Chuo.
Malkit, the 47-year-old coach who hails from Selangor, plays a crucial role to realise the club’s vision.
“We introduce the programme to make and keep the kids interested in golf and teach them golf rules, etiquette, attitude and discipline so that they will play golf.
“And once they are interested in golf, they will try to play in some tournaments and become more active in future where they will play in amateur tournaments and gradually they will go higher and become professionals,” he said.
He felt that the KGS Junior Development Programme is a very good programme which other clubs should emulate because the young kids are the future club members who will impact club business too.
“Most the kids in Sarawak are talented and they are stronger than their counterparts in other states. I can see more Sarawak golfers playing in world class tournaments,” he added.
Trainees under the programme are divided into Beginners, Advanced and Elite groups.
The coach revealed that most of the parents are very happy when their kids start to play golf.
This because their behaviour will change, they are spending more time in golf and staying away from IT gadgets.
They also have the chance to mix around with other kids and have more friends.
He observed that it is also important for the clubs to look for sponsors to expose the good players.
“It is for the clubs, associations and the State Government to look into that.
“There are many juniors coming up and, hopefully, they have more tournaments to play. Once they get the much needed exposure, they can be world class players,” he said.
A group of 20 juniors are currently undergoing three weeks of training on every Wednesday and Thursday from 8am to 4pm.
This number can triple during the coming school holidays.
“The training is to prepare them for the the coming Sarawak Chief Minister’s Cup International Junior Golf Championship from Nov 26-28, as well as the 15th KGM Junior Amateur Open and the KGS Junior Open 2020,” said Malkit.