Table Speech

Talent Discovery, Development and Strength Training in the World of Golf

September 2, 2020

Mr. Hiroshi Yamanaka
Managing Director, Japan Golf Association

 The Japan Golf Association (JGA) is a Public Interest incorporated Association that sets the rules of golf, including the handicap system, organizes championships, builds external relationships, liaises with the Olympic Committee as well as provides training to strengthen golfers. Today I want to share how JGA trains its National Team which consists of male and female amateur golfers (6〜8 respectively) who represent our country.

 In 2014, the World Amateur Team Championship was held in Karuizawa. Being a host country for this grand sporting event, our National Team members were trained extra hard and prepared strenuously, only to face a crushing defeat. Our Men’s Team ranked 29th and Women’s Team 8th. The result of this harsh and sobering reality made us realize that there were hardly any skilled specialists for coaching in this country who had received relevant trainings. We reached out to our fellow golf Association in Australia, Golf Australia, to get advice and ask for a good coach to be seconded. Thanks to their generosity, they sent the then Head Coach of the Australian Team Mr. Gareth Jones who joined us as Head Coach in 2015. Actually, he brought “Team Jones” with him, consisting of Physical Performance Coach, Motion Analysis Coach as well as Short Game Specialist Coach. We were greatly impressed with the remarkable achievement made in just one year. Our Team became the winner of the Asia Amateur Championship after 26 years. In 2018, Ms. Yuka Yasuda won the 2nd place in the World Women’s Amateur Championship while our Team ranked 2nd in the World Amateur Team Championship. These results speak for themselves the importance of coaches in sports.

 Let me share the valuable lessons given by Mr. Jones to our National Team. First of all, he set forth the Team Philosophy as “To create an environment where athletes can learn, grow and develop as golfers and as human beings, and to create ambassadors that are role models to help grow the game of golf in Japan.”

 Secondly, Mr. Jones identified the Mission Statement as “The Japan National Team Golf Program is a ‘Date Driven, Growth Mindset’ program. The role of the greater coaching team is to provide a safe learning environment where athletes are encouraged to think, problem solve, question and continually challenge both themselves and the coaching team in the pursuit of World Class Standards. We continually test, measure and evaluate preparation and performance in pursuit of excellence and athletes are encouraged, challenged and supported on their own Journey of Self Discovery.”

 And thirdly, he clarified the obligations and rights of amateur golfers in the Players’ Mission Statement that reads “With the pride as Team Japan, we have spirit and “never give up”. We will make every effort to prepare for the game with high quality practice and compete with teammates. With gratitude, we aim to become role models that continue to challenge world standards and ensure that we have a positive impact on Japanese golf.”

 There are also specific elements clarified as “Four Pillars of Success” that include Health, Education, Resilience and Society. Players are encouraged to attain and maintain good health as well as prevent injuries. As only a handful of players can survive and succeed in a highly competitive world of professional golfing, young players should expand their educational options to prepare for alternative career paths in case they decide to give up the sport. We also encourage players to be self-disciplined and build resilience to cope with turbulent times and to bounce back from hardships and challenges. Communication skills, including how to get your messages across effectively through the press and media, are essential element to play an active and responsible role in the team as well as global society. When our golfers compete in a tournament, they take due and balanced account of “tactical,” “physical,” “technical,” “mental” and “personal” factors based on a holistic approach.

 Mr. Jones does not give detailed technical instructions nor spend too much time practicing long shots. He emphasizes the importance of good “preparation” and designs effective training programs that focuses on how to achieve good results in competitions. Our Team spends the first day of training without using any golf clubs. We spend the whole day walking through the entire 18 holes with the yardage book and take detailed notes of the best possible straight line by checking first-hand the distances, slopes and hazards on the course.

 Before I close my speech, let me share two formulas shared by the coach and players: “WORK x TALENT = SKILL” and “SKILL + TIME + LUCK = SUCCESS.” If we succeed in training skilled specialist coaches across Japan and disseminate the growth mindset that leads to continuous personal development, I believe we can foster both professional and amateur golfers who will become good role models. The JGA surely has an important role to play. Being a Public Interest incorporated Association, our activities are funded by donations and membership fees from our sponsors and supporters. Let me ask for your continued support and understanding to the world of golf.