27th February 2023
The USGA launched the U.S. National Development Program on 24th February 2023, a move that should ultimately pay dividends for future USA Walker Cup teams.
The Program will identify, train, develop, fund and support the nation’s most promising junior players to ensure that American golf is the global leader in the game.
Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA, said “Today, nearly every other competitive golf country in the world offers a national development program to foster and develop its elite junior talent. The United States is at a huge competitive disadvantage in this regard, as we simply ask our athletes, parents and coaches to forge their own path, without any unified national guidance or financial support. Golf is the only major sport in the U.S. without a national development program.”
The U.S. National Development Program will focus on six key pillars, namely Talent Identification, Access to Competition, National Teams, Athlete Resources, Player Development and Relations and Athlete Financial Support.The program will create a sustainable grant program to financially assist identified talent with entry fees, travel, coaching costs, golf course access, equipment and more.
It will work alongside existing stakeholders such as the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), the PGA of America, LPGA Professionals and the Golf Coaches Association of America and Women’s Golf Coaches Association to develop a clear player pathway.
Elite juniors, amateurs and young professionals will be invited to join one of three national teams with dedicated staff and resources and compete internationally under the United States flag.
A commitment is also being made to reach players from underrepresented communities and ensure they have the resources to progress within the sport’s strongest competitive and developmental opportunities.
“The journey from junior golf to elite competition has become complicated and cost-prohibitive for many families,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, USGA managing director of Player Relations and Development. “It is our duty to unify and simplify the process by removing any barriers that prevent the most promising juniors from reaching their full potential. The success of this program will not only support and elevate the talent of today’s top players, but also diversify and strengthen the next generation of great American golfers.”
Starting in 2023, the program will fund 50 juniors. That number will grow each year and by 2027 the program aims to fund 1,000 juniors across the country and impact thousands more.
It will be interesting to follow the progress of the Program and to see whether it achieves its objectives in the coming years.
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