Date: December 16, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

These guys are good. Really good.

OK, I’m biased.

Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about one of the most important trends in Aussie tournament golf – the next wave.

I have had the good fortune over many years to come to know the pros of the Australian PGA Tour relatively well. Almost without exception they are super blokes and, literally, a shot or two from getting the big break they’ve craved for years and winning on to a rich foreign tour.

Make no mistake, they are quality players. Think epic musicians who rock it out at grungy local pubs in the eternal hope that the manager of EMI records is “in the house”.

Part of the problem is the well-worn drama of pathways. It is, without doubt, partly self-belief. Another issue is having the tools to manage lives and logistics as well as they do their magnificent golf swings.

Whatever. Many are hit records just awaiting airplay that, sadly, might never come.

Which brings me to my point.

Having worked at Golf Australia for a year now, I’ve naturally taken a far greater interest in the development of the next generation.

And while I’m absolutely thrilled to have come to know them while they’re driving Mitsubishi Magnas before the first sponsor’s car picks them up, my eyes have been opened really wide as to the overall process they’re undertaking.

It’s not just about hitting balls non-stop. Nor is it just about finding technological or physical advantages in labs or gyms around the world.

Sure they play their part. But there’s more.

It’s about learning how to cope with tournament and media pressures, how to budget for your first years on tour, to whom they should entrust their personal details and aspirations and how to deal with the mental load of expectations.

And way more on top of all that.

The golfers in the state high performance programs – and those lucky enough to make the Golf Australia national squad – are each given incredible support and guidance. It’s there as much – or as little – as needed.

But it’s only ever a phone call away … to a whole raft of brilliant and committed individuals.

The state-based national coaches are gems – and all would walk over broken glass to help the next Karrie Webb or Greg Norman rise from obscurity.

But equally, they give their all so that those with slightly less talent but with a massive work ethic can also thrive … if they’re dedicated.

The end product of this, and point of this diatribe, is that you’re just now beginning to see the tip of the iceberg.

The prodigies emerging now on to the PGA and ALPG tours have an in-built mechanism to help them win sooner rather than later.

Remember, they’re competing against quality, seasoned campaigners who are desperate for victories and have the armory to achieve them.

Yet I give you Su Oh, Jordan Zunic, Ben Eccles, Nathan Holman and Jarryd Felton who have each won domestically in 2015.

And there are Minjee Lee and Cam Smith, who’ve both kicked huge goals in the United States.

I give you Jack Wilson, Oliver Goss, Jake Higginbottom and Matt Stieger among others in recent seasons.

And let’s not forget the likes of Todd Sinnott, Antonio Murdaca and Lucas Herbert who are already knocking on the door in their fledgling pro outings.

To borrow a US PGA Tour line, these guys are good. Really good.

And it might just pay to watch them around the traps before their games go global.