For a few weeks in November, some 250 of Cambodia’s youth took part in Angkor Golf Resort’s Jr. Golf Academy. From the 2nd to the 13th, Siem Reap’s premier golf club invited boys and girls, aged 12 to 14 to partake in a basic introduction to the sport. Whether they’ll find the next Tiger or Rory, or locate a diamond in the proverbial rough, remains to be seen. Many of the locally raised and NGO children had never held a club, hit a ball, or even seen the sport before. Yet, the high turnout reaped many rewards and the biggest reward may have been the simplest. The kids had fun.
They were introduced to a golf course for the first time. They learned the basic object of the game, and they were taught some of particulars of golf terminology. “Why is water a hazard, coach?” may have been a question heard on numerous occasions, but once the initial phase of this project was completed, the kids knew the difference between a birdie and an eagle and a driver and a wedge. Project leader and course Head Pro, Alan Martin, has called phase one of his project a huge success and is looking forward to the next step in the process. Martin recalls seeing a young boy hitting a pitching wedge consistently past the 100 yard marker. “That’s pretty impressive for a boy that had never held a club before.” said Martin.
In early December, phase two will commence with about 70 of the initial 250 children. These chosen children will undergo a sampling of skills tests such as putting, chipping to targets, driving, swing analysis and basic accuracy with both irons and drivers. All of this is to become one of the twelve selected to a more advanced stage of the Angkor Golf Resort Academy for 6 months where after 4 of the 12 are selected for the Angkor Golf Resort Junior Golf Team.
Both the PGA and LPGA have been seeing a large increase in Asian players with the LPGA being somewhat dominated by the easterners. So, while the iron is hot, AGR is not only looking to expand the golfing program, but is also looking to secure it for the long term future. In Cambodia, football is king, so AGR`s endeavor is a challenging one, to say the least, but there is no reason that with some sponsorship, they can’t accomplish their quest to enlighten Cambodians to the game of golf. Martin has resources at his disposal, a beautiful course and practice facilities and he’s more than willing to put in his own time and effort to see this come to fruition.
He may not find the next Tiger or Rory and it’s not at the top of his priority list. It is simply just getting the youth of Cambodia on the course and giving them the chance to actually feel the game and gives them the opportunity to embrace the sport that many could have never imagined.
Cambodia Golf Today will keep you up to date on the junior golf team