Key changes have been made around the structure and terminology of Golf Australia’s high performance program.
Following a review of the nation’s elite amateur pathway, Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said alterations were made with clarity a prime concern.
Pitt said replacement of the term “national squad” with “benchmark athletes” and tweaks to the underlying structure were important steps in helping all involved better understand the collaborative, national approach that has yielded great recent success in amateur and professional ranks globally.
“We are delighted with the results and the overall direction of the high performance program which has had a period of unprecedented global success in the past year or two,” he said.
“And we are not going to change the drivers that have made the program perform so well.
“But we do want people, in and outside the industry, to have a better understanding of the role that the collaboration of the states plays in the program and to clarify the terminologies around it.”
The changes clarify that there are approximately 620 young male and female athletes already in the Golf Australia high performance pathway receiving financial and/or development opportunities from the states and national body.
Golf Australia high performance director Brad James said the new “benchmark athlete” branding effectively replaces the national squad term and selection criteria, and those who achieve these benchmarks will receive direct funding over and above their state allocations.
“The national squad has never been a program, per se,” James said of the squad that ran for more than 20 years and featured a host of players who went on to become household names such as 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, world No.1s Adam Scott and Jason Day and multiple LPGA Tour winner Minjee Lee.
“It was always a way to recognise and fund elite athletes throughout Australia.
“By removing its branding, we hope to emphasise each athlete’s daily training environment, through the state high performance pathways, is a vital part of their future success.
“All state high performance programs collectively form the Golf Australia national program. The communication and integration process of all is a key element of the overall program’s success.”
At all times, Golf Australia and its resources remain available to all athletes in state high performance pathways, James stressed.
“Golf Australia and the state HP programs must have a clear and integrated understanding of how the athlete is developing and how limited funding is spent,” he said.
“It is also important we have a close relationship with each athlete’s home coach as they are a part of the athlete’s journey.”
As part of the conditions to receive state and/or GA funding outside team representation, athletes must be part of their respective state high performance programs.
The state programs have, and retain, responsibility for overseeing each athlete’s daily training environment and long-term development processes.
They are accountable for identification, selection and long-term development of athletes in their respective states.
The state HP programs implement the national curriculum, standards, philosophy and culture. They oversee the athletes’ daily training environment and development processes with Golf Australia adding value, providing guidance, direction and support.
“If an athlete is a member of the state high performance program they are part of the national program pathway,” James said.
The Golf Australia high performance program pathway
The GA HP program comprises four levels. The funding for service provision and development opportunities increase as the athlete moves through the levels from four towards one.
1. Golf Australia rookie program (professional golfers only)
2. State elite program – (NSW, Queensland Academy of Sport, SA, TAS, Victorian Institute of Sport, WA)
3. State development program – (NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA)
4. State talent ID program – (NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA)
For athletes who sit within levels 2-3, the daily training environment and development processes are implemented and monitored by the state high performance program with Golf Australia adding value, providing guidance and offering support.
Level 4 athletes are invited by the state HP programs to attend talent ID camps for assessment and possible inclusion into level 2 or 3.
Funding for these programs comes from Golf Australia, state bodies, state institute or academy programs and major sponsors. Golf Australia provides direct and indirect funding to athletes and helps fund the state HP programs by covering coaching, camps, tournaments, athlete/coach education, service provision and equipment costs.
The funding for the rookie squad (level 1) comes from Golf Australia through donations from private benefactors.
James said there was an important difference between funding available for state HP program members and Australian/state representation.
He said state HP program members were eligible for high performance program funding, while non- members were only eligible for Australian/state representation funding if their results and ranking warranted selection.
For more information on the Golf Australia high performance program visit: http://www.golf.org.au/hp-program