Date: June 28, 2013
Author: Ruben Sondjaja

JNJG Juniors Experience the UK

Last year through BBM Youth Support JNJG was able to award two scholarships for talented juniors to travel to the UK where they have the opportunity to play in a few events, but more so to experience the country and the culture and perhaps help them to decide on a future pathway.

Ruben Sondjaja and Adriana Brent were the recipients for 2012 and below is a report from Ruben about this fantastic experience:

"The United Kingdom was a real eye-opening trip. I arrived on May 20th and had thirty-five days abroad. I had arranged to travel with the Golf Australia National squad for the five weeks. All together, there were eight of us: six golfers, our National Coach, Marty Joyce, and our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Luke Mackey. I had entered three tournaments throughout Scotland and England and had many more golf related events throughout the trip.

Our first stop was the BMW PGA Championships at Wentworth Golf Club. The squad and I were in for an entertaining day watching the professionals practice several days before the tournament starts. The BMW PGA Championships is the major tournament of the European Tour. It accommodates the world’s best professional golfers and has total prize money of more than eight million dollars. This year’s main attraction was former world number one, Rory McIlroy.

After a week of getting acclimatized, Golf Australian and the England Golf Union had organized a friendly Ashes Match. This was our first competitive golf competition for the trip. Not having much training beforehand, we used this competition as a good warm up…..or so we say after losing 14.5 points to 15.5 points to the English. I had won both matches for the day which was a good start to the trip.

On June 25th, we were all lucky enough to spend a day with Peter Cowen. Cowen is regarded as one of the world’s best coaches. He has a fine list of coaching many world-class golfers such as Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.

The squad and I took advantage of such an opportunity and gave great attention to what he had to say. We learnt his opinion on golf swing mechanics and many other golf related aspects through our ongoing list of questions. Afterwards, we were all sitting around the dinner table and were told by Marty that a corporate golf booking for the day with Peter Cowen would have cost us almost over $50,000.

We then drove north of London for a few hours to Woodhall Spa Golf and Country Club. The course is rated inside the world’s top fifty courses and is the home base of England Golf. We spent three days working with the England Golf National Coach, Graham Walker. The camp was an opportunity for the squad and I to refresh, focus, and prepare for our upcoming tournaments. It was definitely three days well spent.

The three tournaments I played were the: Scottish Amateur Championships, St. Andrew’s Links Trophy, and the British Amateur Championships. All three tournaments were well ranked on the international calendar. However, the British Amateur is the world’s biggest amateur tournament boasting a position in the U.S. Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open for the eventual winner.

The UK has a very different and unique style of golf courses. They call it “links golf”. Links golf courses are often built on sand dunes on the coast. Preparing for these tournaments back in Sydney, I tried my best to play in similar conditions and courses to adapt well. The factors of links golf proved very hard.

In all three tournaments, I failed to qualify through to the final rounds. I performed my best in the last and biggest tournament, the British Amateur. It was very disappointing for me to be one shot astray of qualifying into the final section. However, strangely this trip has been quite a confidence booster and I can definitely take many positive aspects away from the trip.

It was a great experience for me to gain an insight of what is required to be a successful golfer in the future. There are many aspects on and off the golf course that need improvement to be a world-class golfer.

I have recently accepted a four-year athletic scholarship to Iowa State University in America that begins in August. I am very excited for another opportunity for an unforgettable experience and look forward to sending some good reports in the near future.

On behalf of my family and I, and as well as Jack Newton Junior Golf, I would like to personally thank B.B.M. for providing myself and many other aspiring athletes the opportunity to get one step closer to their dreams. I am very happy to know that many other athletes have, or will be, receiving this scholarship in the future. Without your support, life-changing experiences such as this may not happen.

I must also raise a big thank you for your support towards junior golf. It is great to see such opportunities on offer to a sport such as golf. I have grown up participating in the Jack Newton Junior Golf program since I was the age of six. I know junior golf is in great hands with the help of B.B.M. and JNJG. I will definitely speak highly of the B.B.M. award.

Thank you very much.

Kind regards,

Ruben Sondjaja"

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