Winning the nation’s first SEA Games golf title in almost three decades last month was hailed as a breakthrough moment for the Singapore Golf Association (SGA). But the national sports association finds itself in the midst of changes to its national set-up.
Australian head coach Andrew Welsford’s contract ends next month and he wants to spend more time with his family in Canberra. He is based in Sydney now.
And two members of the gold medal-winning men’s team are set to depart the squad when they turn professional next year.
There will not be a direct replacement for Welsford, whose last event will be next month’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in New Zealand. Instead, three part-time coaches will be hired in mid-November.
Their primary focus will be youth development, said SGA’s acting general manager and high performance manager Jerome Ng. One will take charge of the elite team while the other two will train the development and junior squads.
The 28-year-old Ng, a former national player, added: “All three will bring a unique and different skill set and will cross-exchange feedback through the three groups.”
All three will also be based in Singapore, unlike Welsford who flies into the Republic once a month.
The gregarious 46-year-old will be missed, said Marc Ong, who delivered the gold in Kuala Lumpur after his play-off win against Thailand’s Kammalas Namuangruk.
The experiences that Andrew shared with us during tournament weeks, how to read the situation and adjust our games, just his teaching from experience as a former player – we’re going to miss him out there during tournament week.
MARC ONG, Singapore golfer, on what he and his teammates learnt from national coach Andrew Welsford, whose contract ends next month.
The 21-year-old said: “The experiences that Andrew shared with us during tournament weeks, how to read the situation and adjust our games, just his teaching from experience as a former player – we’re going to miss him out there during tournament week.”
He and Games team-mate Gregory Foo, Singapore’s highest-ranked amateur at world No. 75, are planning on joining the paid ranks next year.
That will leave a void but SGA president Ross Tan, 61, remained undeterred and noted that there were several promising players in the pipeline.
Tan was elected in July last year and one of his first acts was to start a sub-committee for junior development, which added the junior (ages nine to 14) squad to the development and elite teams.
He singled out Andre Chong, 16, and Donovan Lee, 17, as golfers who could step up from the development team into the elite squad.
Andre this year succeeded Donovan as the Schools National B Division boys’ champion. Donovan also won a team bronze at the 2015 Asean School Games in Brunei.
Tan said: “Sending them out to compete overseas is important.”
Despite the impending changes, Foo, 23, is confident the national programme would continue to flourish.
He said: “We have no doubt that they (new coaches) have the expertise and knowledge which they will bring into the team and the players will have a lot to learn from them.”
- Additional reporting by Ho Cai Jun
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