The 2018 Community Youth Golf League got under way yesterday with the first of four legs at the Orchid Country Club (OCC). A total of 54 golfers aged 14 to 16 from three secondary schools took part.
This is the 21st year the league has been held under its parent Youth Golf Programme (YGP), which aims to give youth golfers who do not have golf club memberships opportunities to learn and play golf with their peers.
Nicholas Jordan Sea of St Patrick's School leads the boys' category after the first leg. The Secondary 3 student fired a gross score of 79 (par-73) at OCC's Vanda and Dendro courses (nine holes each).
"My short game went well today and it helped that the course is a pretty straightforward one," said Nicholas, 14, who has a handicap of 6.4. "I think (the league) benefits us a lot. It gives us more opportunities to play practice rounds, especially with the Schools Nationals coming up next month."
The YGP has helped many students like Nicholas over the years, noted Andy Chng, the teacher-in-charge of St Patrick's golf programme. The dates of the other three legs are not confirmed.
"We've had a number of students without prior experience come in and end up with handicaps, which they maintain after graduation," he said. "It's a privilege for them to enjoy the game which might not be possible without the programme."
The programme, which began in 1997, is the brainchild of the late Tay Cheng Khoon, a former sports editor of The Straits Times.
It currently has 142 participating golfers across four proficiency levels.
Its 4,000-strong alumni include SEA Games gold medallist Joshua Shou and current golf professional Jesse Yap, both of whom are playing in the PGA Tour China Chengdu Championship this week.
Said YGP chairman Janice Khoo: "It doesn't matter if you come as part of a school programme or individually. As long as you have an interest, we welcome you."