GOLF: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
By Jugjet Singh
THE Malaysian golf scene had never had it so good, and the professionals can finally break into song and dance after suffering a major handicap for the past decade caused by bickering and in-fighting among rival bodies.
The mushroom that sprung up from the ground after rival bodies clawed, cussed and then fought to their deaths was the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour.
And PGM, born on December 2010, has not only brought in the money and more tournaments than the local professionals could even have dreamt of, but is also looking at nurturing world class golfers in the near future.
PGM held 16 legs this year, with a total purse of RM2.6 million, and will increase it to 19 legs and RM3 million next year.
And the severely handicapped golfers, some of whom who were left with little more than their golf clubs and the T-shirts on their backs after a long and bitter clash among golf bodies, have now more than enough legs to support their quest to play and also make money in one swing.
Take a bow Tun Ahmad Sarji, Chairman of PGM, as he handed the dying golf scene a breath of fresh air, and aspires to see 20 Malaysian golfers on the Asian Tour and five on the European Tour in the next few years.
In his own words, he described the birth of PGM: “It started when the Prime Minister wanted to end the suffering of professional golfers in the country by providing them with more tournaments.
“His vision was to have world class golfers in the next few years and a few Government Linked Companies were roped in a sponsors.
“It started in a small way, but now, sponsors are very happy with the progress made by local golfers and I believe we should have more than a handful of credible gofers in the near future,” said Ahmad Sarji.
The plan is not only to provide more competition, but also to nurture the mind-set of locals to think big, and towards this an academy will mushroom next year.
Feb 2 will me the milestone as the PGM High Performance Golf Academy will take in its first intake of 16 male golfers. The new benchmark will provide holistic raining programme covering skills in all areas -- physical, technical, mental and strategies.
“We need the academy to change the mind-set of local golfers, who until recently still believed on luck rather than skills and mental strength to make their mark.
“I stills see professionals who arrive minutes from their tee-off time and gulp down a nasi lemak before trying their luck in a tournament.
“This will be a thing of the past if they take up the challenge to be groomed into real professionals in the PGM Academy,” said Ahmad Sarji.
The five-year development programme at the PGM Academy will have seven intakes in varying numbers, with the age limit set at 25-years and below.
However, it is not a free ride as PGM will bare 60 per cent of the cost, while golfers will have to fork out the remainder.
“Training will be for six months with the student’s contribution being RM3,000 per month with the total being RM18,000.
“PGM’s total subsidy per-student for the six months will be RM27,796. We need to have paying golfers at the academy, so that they will be more serious in their quest to change their game and mental approach,” said Ahmad Sarji.
And what about the ladies?
Plans are also afoot to help the ladies who do not have their won professional body, but work with the Professional Golf Association of Malaysia.
Right now, there are less than 10 professional lady golfers in the country, of which only Jean Chua, in the United States, and Ainil Johani Bakar actively playing.
The ladies will also be allowed to play with the men in the PGM Tour, but not in the six joint PGM-ADT Tours, until they have more numbers and are able to form their own pro organisation.
Next year, PGM Sime Darby Harvard Classic will kick-start the calendar on Jan 11-14 at the Harvard GCC in Kedah, and hopefully by December when the pros assemble for the grand finale in the PGM Masters Invitation at the Impian GCC in Selangor, low scores will be the order of the day.
2012 PGM CALENDAR
Jan 11-14: PGM Sime Darby at Harvard GCC, Kedah (RM125,000); Feb 8-11: PGM Perlis Classic at Kelab Golf Putra (RM125,000); Feb 19-22: PGM Kelantan Classic at Kelantan GCC (RM125,000).
March 8-11: PGM CCM Impian Masters at Impian GCC (RM180,000, ADT).
March 28-31: PGM Perak Classic at Clearwater Sanctuary (RM125,000); April 4-7: PGM Johor Classic at Johor Country Club (RM180,000 ADT); April 18-21: PGM Sabah Classic at Sabah GCC (RM200,000).
May 10-13 PGM A’Famosa Classic at A’Famosa Golf Resort (RM180,000 ADT); May 23-26 PGM Kinrara Classic at Kinrara GC (RM125,000); June 6-9: PGM Malacca Classic at Ayer Keroh CC (RM125,000); June 25-28: PGM Terengganu Masters at Awana Kijal (RM220,000 ADT).
July 11-14: PGM PNB Lanjut Classic at Lanjut Golden Beach (RM125,000); Sept 5-8: PGM North Port at Templer Park CC (RM125,000); Sept 19-22: PGM Penang Classic at Penang GR (RM125,000).
Oct 4-7: PGM Sarawak Classic at Kelab Golf Sarawak (RM180,000 ADT); Oct 17-20: PGM Negri Sembilan Classic at Seremban International GC (RM125,000); Nov 8-11: PGM-MIDF KLGCC Masters (RM180,000 ADT).
Nov 21-24: PGM UMW Serendah Classic (RM130,000); Dec 12-15: PGM Masters Invitational at Impian GCC (RM300,000).