The National Development Programme is the pathway that assists young emerging talent from throughout New Zealand to succeed on the international stage. It currently encompasses three levels of age and stage appropriate development. These being the National Junior Training Camps, the Srixon Development Squad and the Srixon Academy. A Rookie Professional Programme is also being developed to support the very best of these players as they transition to the professional ranks. The programme levels are all geared towards a common objective of developing more New Zealand golfers who achieve success at the highest level on the world stage.
New Zealand Golf Selection Policy
The essence of the development programme is to identify those players from within district lead academy programmes, who display the greatest probability of continued improvement and potential world class levels of performance, and begin to develop and refine their talent over a Long Term Player Development (LTPD) cycle that produces world class performances on the international amateur stage and finally culminates into a successful transition to professionalism.
It is the role of the New Zealand Golf National Development Programme to support and or deliver athlete centered, coach led, player development that as a minimum rivals, but ultimately exceeds, that of the leading golf nations in the world. As players progress from the specialization years of development into the investment years, it is crucial that the level of focused, personalized support is increased to meet the needs of the players.
It is now widely accepted that completing 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is one of the major prerequisites to reach an expert level of performance in any given skilled task and that for golf, a multi-faceted skill development sport, this time frame can be much longer. In fact a players first 10,000 hours of development may merely result in a player reaching a professional level of proficiency with still more years of refinement required before reaching a truly world class level (the average age of male Major winners is 31years). It is with this understanding that a long term view is taken and the necessary elements of a player development programme are supported.
Understanding that a typical player may have begun specialising in golf by the age of 13 to 15 and would reach the Srixon Academy by the age of between 18 to 20, a window of three to five years exists to refine the skills of that player; ultimately preparing them for the eventual transition to the professional ranks.
A critical component of the national development programme, and specifically the Srixon Academy, is the ability to introduce players to competitive environments that continually challenge their level of development. While New Zealand based age group and open competitions are important steps that allow both talent identification and development to occur, it is the introduction to international competition that provides the higher level of experience they require to develop into world class performers.
International Age Group Tournaments
For the earlier developers the first step is often entering international age group competition. The objective is to introduce players to this unfamiliar environment early, to allow their competitive play to develop within the appropriate player (age group) community. This is most likely to occur at the national junior camp or Srixon Development Squad level of support.
Introducing age group players to international competition will challenge them in many ways, none more so than being faced with higher levels of competition within both an unfamiliar environment and new peer group.
Other equally important aspects of this phase are the organisational and planning requirement of international travel and the issues they experience while undertaking such a challenge. Cultural differences, climate and altitude changes as well as uniquely different course conditions also play their part in the ongoing development process.
Opportunity for players within the national junior training camps and the Srixon Development Squad to experience this exists primarily within Australia as well as Asia (although not exclusively). A sample of tournaments would include the Jack Newton Junior Championship (Srixon International), Greg Norman Junior Championships, Handa Junior Masters and the Australian Boys and Girls Amateur.
International Development Tournaments
Continual experience competing in international tournaments is a necessity for a player’s ongoing development. Players who have advanced through the age grade levels, and who meet the criteria of selection, will now be introduced to international open grade competition.
The difference in location, playing environments and course conditions continues to challenge at this stage and further experience gained from these opportunities continues to prepare the player for success. While they may have begun to succeed or even dominate at the age group stage they may take a step back as they enter this new phase.
A number of Australian events provide an ideal testing ground for Srixon Development and Srixon Academy players. With only relatively short travel periods required the players are able to enter Golf Australia Ranking Events that feature on the R&A World Golf Rankings allowing New Zealand based players to advance their World Ranking. A sample of these events includes the Lake Macquarie Amateur, Riversdale Cup, and the Australian Stroke Play and Amateur Championship.
For players in their second and third years of Srixon Academy membership, there is the opportunity to experience a different range of tournaments and conditions that can expand their experience further. A key objective at this time is to match the tournament location and type with the potential PGA Tour they wish to pursue a membership of. Some such events include the Asian Amateur Championships, Suntory Open, Korean Open, Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup, Argentina Amateur, British Amateur, US Amateur and the Canadian Amateur.
New Zealand Team Tournaments
There are numerous New Zealand team events that players can compete both domestically and internationally which add to their experience. International competition such as Trans Tasman (Junior and Open), Nomura Cup, Queen Sirikit Cup, Four Nations and the World Amateur Teams Championships all add to the ongoing development of the players selected and allow the very best to excel.
International Tournament Campaigns
For the very best amateur players, the opportunity exists to test themselves against world class competition in a series of the most highly ranked international events available to them. Such a campaign will provide one of the final stepping stones for players emerging from the Srixon Academy through to the Rookie Professional Programme.
Each international campaign is personalised to the individual and may have multiple objectives that meet set criteria as they target specific events. Currently the following tournaments may make up such a campaign;
Asia: Singapore Amateur, Hong Kong Amateur, China Amateur.
UK/Europe: Lytham Trophy, Irish Open Amateur, Welsh Open Amateur, Brabazon Trophy, Scottish Open Amateur, British Amateur, St Andrews Links Trophy.
USA: Players Amateur, Southern Amateur, Western Amateur, Scratch Players Amateur, US Amateur
Canada: Canadian Amateur, Barrett Amateur
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