It’s boom time in the West for golf

Something special is happening in Western Australia with the West evolving into a development ground the envy of the eastern states.

Brett Rumford, Whitney Hillier, Kristie Smith, Matt Jager, Rick Kulacz, Michael Sim, Oliver Goss, Jason Scrivener, Brady Watt, Minjee Lee and more recently Daniel Hoeve and Jarryd Felton, are proof the Golf Western Australia’s Elite Player development formula is working.

Brady Watt Brady Watt (Credit: Paul Lakatos)

This season, 18-year-old Jarryd Felton has burst into the amateur spotlight winning three times with victories at the Mandurah Open, City of Perth and last week at the Queensland Stroke Play Championship.

In women’s amateur golf, the Western Australian state team has taken two of the last three interstate series and being runner-up once. Minjee Lee has also climbed as high as number two in the world women’s amateur rankings – only kept out of the top spot by Kiwi superstar, Lydia Ko.

Just four Australian male amateurs are inside the world’s top-10, two are from WA with Oliver Goss (7th) and Brady Watt (9th) our highest ranked players. Watt and Goss are huge talents and a cut above the current swag of male amateurs in this country.

“We don’t have a massive pool of players to develop, but we give those that we have plenty of attention,” says Clayton Bell, Golf WA High Performance Manager.

“Golf WA also has a dedicated team of professionals with Ritchie Smith heading the coaching aspect of our high performance, Craig Bishop the state coach for the men’s teams and Andy Mowatt working in development.”

“The time and effort these guys and their team put in is out of this world.”

Development of the game is often linked to Club involvement, be that at the top-tier club or at the local council layout. At this grass roots level, players get introduced to golf and where many obtain the vital support to go in pursuit of their dreams to play professional.

Club member support is one of the reasons why golf in the West has and continues to thrive.

“We have four main clubs here that strongly support high performance golf,” says Bell.

“Royal Fremantle, Royal Perth, Mandurah and Mount Lawley have wonderful junior programs and their members put considerable time and resources into the development of the game.”

“We as a State are very fortunate to have such clubs and they have and continue to support our elite players. It’s efforts from these members and the Club’s PGA Professionals which gives that added support for our players and the results are showing.”

With junior participation rates at an all time high through the “My Golf Tour” program, which incorporates an under-14 tour based on nine holes, there appears to be no end to this “West machine” in producing elite players.

“We have a number of exciting twelve and thirteen year olds, particularly girls, on the way through,” says Bell.

“It will obviously take a few years, but it’s certainly exciting times for Western Australian golf.”

Brady Watt and Oliver Goss both put on a wonderful display of true Aussie spirit at this year’s US Amateur Championship, with Goss making it through to the final at the expense of beating Watt on the way through. They are sure to progress to the professional ranks and do well. Minjee Lee, the 2012 US Girls’ Junior Amateur champion, is the same.

It’s a case of watch this space with Daniel Hoeve and Jarryd Felton. Felton already has made a name for himself and is sure to challenge in each event he enters.

Brett Rumford has enjoyed a stellar year with two victories on the European Tour to add to his total of five. Whitney Hillier graduated from Qualifying School to play the Ladies European Tour for the first time and is having a standout rookie year.

While Kristie Smith continues to forge her career in the US winning last year on the Symetra Tour.

The West certainly is enjoying its boom in golf and rightfully so.