Teeing off the right way
A development programme for young Malaysian lady golfers is levelling up the playing field.

When Australia didn’t win a single gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the Australian Sports Institute was set up to retain the nation’s sporting glory. It took 12 years before they won a gold medal again.

With golf still a grassroots sport in Malaysia, former national golf player Koe Lai Yin knew that a similar programme would be needed to push the Malaysian golfing scene to the next level.

Koe Lai Yin, senior instructor of MST Gold Academy.

Koe, who is now a senior instructor with MST Golf Academy, collaborated with the Sime Darby Foundation to start a development programme nurturing the best young female golfers in Malaysia.

“It is a goal to elevate the level of women’s golf in Malaysia, from quality education of the fundamentals of golf, to becoming a world class player,” said Koe who is custodian of the programme.

Since its inception four years ago, he programme is now most holistic one available for those who want to qualify for the Sime Darby LGPA Malaysia 2013.

The 12-week live-in programme saw the selection of 15 potential girls aged between 12 and 23 years old from all around Malaysia to learn and play golf at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. The programme came to an end last week when four of the girls then participated in the Sime Darby LGPA Malaysia 2013 qualifiers. Michelle Koh, 23, clinched one of the two qualifying spots.

Michelle Koh

“The programme helped me improve my mental skills and that prepared me well for the qualifiers,” said Koh, who recently graduated from Campbell University in North Carolina, United States.

However, the best advantage this programme provided was the opportunity for participants to go down to the golf course with their coaches to discuss their game strategy.

“Going down the golf course really helped because we don’t get to do it normally and it helps to create strategies in the most practical way,” she said.

This year, professional coach Ian Triggs, who coaches currrent LGPA tour professionals Eun Hee Ji and So Yeon Ru, came in for thea third time to coach the girls for a few days.

The girls got to send him questions on their technical skills.

He added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the players over the years and this programme is important as preparation on and off the course is an integral part of any athlete’s training programme.”

And this programme was not just all about improving technical golf techniques. In fact, physiotherapists, chiropractors, nutritionists, yoga instructors and motivational speakers were brought in to educate the girls on mental and physical preparation of the game as well.

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