Golf: Singapore Golf Association launches new scheme to help professional golfers

Singapore's Joshua Shou (right) and fellow SEA Games gold medallist Marc Ong plan to turn professional after next week's SMBC Singapore Open at the Sentosa Golf Club.
Singapore's Joshua Shou (right) and fellow SEA Games gold medallist Marc Ong plan to turn professional after next week's SMBC Singapore Open at the Sentosa Golf Club.ST FILE PHOTO

SGA's programme aims to assist rookie players by providing them with support that amateurs enjoy

It is not wrong to say that when amateur golfers in Singapore turn professional, they are left on their own to fend for themselves.

It also says a lot about the local game that 50-year-old Mardan Mamat is still Singapore's top-ranked golfer and the only professional who has surpassed the million-dollar mark in career earnings.

Now, with a fledgling generation of golfers including 2017 SEA Games gold medallists waiting in the wings to turn pro, the Singapore Golf Association (SGA) yesterday rolled out a new initiative to support amateur golfers who turn professional.

Known as the rookie professional programme, the bridging scheme aims to provide new pros with some of the support they would have enjoyed as amateurs on the national team, including access to golf courses, gym facilities and sports psychology sessions at the Singapore Sport Institute.

"New pros often feel a bit abandoned so with this programme, we can help smoothen the transition for them for at least a two-year period," said SGA acting general manager and high performance manager Jerome Ng during a press conference at Sentosa Golf Club yesterday.

The programme will also see new pros maintain their links with their former national team-mates through joint training sessions.

WEIGHT OFF OUR SHOULDERS

Sports massages and gym training can be quite expensive if you pay for them yourself, maybe about a couple hundred dollars a week which really adds up over the year. This is something that's never been done before and it's really going to help us

JOSHUA SHOU, member of the SEA Games gold-winning team, on the expenses that a professional will incur and how the new programme will lift that burden.

The SGA's new initiative was welcomed by SEA Games gold medallists Marc Ong and Joshua Shou, who plan to turn professional after next week's SMBC Singapore Open at the Sentosa Golf Club.

"Everyone who turns pro is pretty much on his own and you get to play on certain courses if you're a member there but not others," said Ong, 22.

"So the programme will definitely help in terms of the training facilities that the SGA can provide."

Added Shou, 27, in a phone interview from Thailand, where he is playing in the Asian Tour qualifying school with compatriot Jesse Yap: "Sports massages and gym training can be quite expensive if you pay for them yourself, maybe about a couple hundred dollars a week which really adds up over the year.

"This is something that's never been done before and it's really going to help us."

Yap felt retaining some of the support infrastructure he enjoyed as an amateur would make the transition less unsettling.

"As a new pro golfer, it's good to have a routine you can fall back on among other changes," said Yap, 25.

"The national team is where we all came from so it's good to remain connected and also to be able to work out with fellow golfers in the gym and on the course.

"It'd get a bit lonely otherwise."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2018, with the headline 'Scheme will ease golf pro step-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe