Date: February 21, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Golfers to help fund next generation

Australia’s new wave of elite professional golfers will help fund the future of Australian golf under a groundbreaking new program.

Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt today announced the “Give Back” program, a revolutionary plan agreed by the body’s high performance staff and athletes.

“In essence, when graduates of our high performance squads reach a certain threshold in professional world rankings each year on the world’s top tours, they will put some of their earnings back into the GA high performance pot for the next generation,” Pitt said.

“We could not be prouder that our brightest young talent are effectively putting their hands into their pockets to say thanks to all those who’ve helped them achieve their professional goals.

“It says everything about them as people, not just athletes, that they’re prepared to help the next wave push through by giving them the same opportunities they received to reach their potential.”

Each player since 2015 to have been in the Golf Australia national or rookie squads has signed a commitment to be part of “Give Back”.

Once athletes reach a world rankings threshold – top 125 for men and top 50 for women – a small percentage of their prizemoney will be returned to high performance programs throughout Australia.

This money will be reinvested into helping develop the future stars of the game.

No athlete will be asked to give back for more than five years, nor more than the funds they received through the program when they were participants. There is no compulsion for players who don’t reach those benchmarks to contribute and endorsement deals aren’t taken into account.

Money will only be given back once an athlete reaches his or her sixth year as a professional. This allows athletes time to establish themselves before the commitment begins.

Of those participants since 2015, Minjee Lee has already reached the benchmark, but she won’t return any money until 2020, her sixth year as a pro.

Australian PGA champion Nathan Holman turned professional in 2014, so is eligible to give back in 2019 and, at No.176 in the world rankings, is approaching the men’s threshold.

As part of the “Give Back” culture GA is trying to create, Cameron Smith has shown his commitment by setting up a separate scholarship in his name.

The 22-year-old, tied for fourth at last year’s US Open, will give an annual $12,500 sponsorship to a player he and Golf Australia’s high performance team jointly select.

The inaugural Cameron Smith Scholarship has been given to Golf Australia national squad junior member Louis Dobbelaar.