Eight of England’s finest golfers have been selected from the English Golf Union National Squad to form an à©lite group, with the aim of making English players the best in the world.
The eight, all internationals, are Graeme Clark (Doncaster), Zane Scotland (Woodcote Park), Scott Godfrey (St. Enodoc), Jonathan Lupton (Middlesborough), Richard Finch (Hull), Gary Wolstenholme (Kilworth Springs), Richard Walker (Walton Hall) and Daniel Wardrop (Didsbury)
The group will form the centrepiece of a ‘World Class Performance Programme’, which has been set up following an agreement between the English Golf Union and Sport England, who will fund the scheme from the National Lottery.
The long term aim of the scheme will be to produce a regular stream of top English players with the ability to perform successfully on the world stage. The programme will also offer educational opportunities along with help and support with the transition to the professional game.
Nigel Furniss, 40, who has been with the EGU for five years, most recently as its deputy secretary, has been appointed the EGU’s performance manager. His job will be to formulate a long-term programme embracing the training and development of England squad players in the future.
The move represents a significant development within English amateur golf and the birth of a new era in which it is intended to take the best golfers in England to another level and give them an edge when it comes to international competition.
An interim programme has commenced and the eight will receive competition and training expenses through a managed schedule, focusing on England’s entry to the Eisenhower Trophy in October 2002. In January the à©lite eight will travel to Saujana Golf Club, Kuala Lumpur, venue for the Eisenhower Trophy, for an acclimatisation visit.
Four of the group will then go on to Australia to compete in the annual Lake Macquarie International at the end of January. In February, there will be warm weather training at Fancourt in South Africa before members of the group compete in various overseas events including the Spanish, Portuguese and South African Amateur Championships followed by the Sherry Cup before returning for the start of the domestic season.
After the Amateur Championship in June, the programme will review the first six months performances. Players may be added to the squad with others possibly dropping out.
England captain Peter McEvoy explained, “Whilst we have been as successful as any country in the world in recent times, we cannot rest on our laurels. The new elite squad funded by Sport England presents us with the opportunity to renew and progress our efforts to establish England as the number one golfing nation in the world of golf.”
Another significant development is that the European Tour, in consultation with other European federations, is working to offer starts for two of the elite group in certain main tour events therefore providing not only experience of the professional game, which some will want to pursue, but that extra competitive edge.
The England national coaching programme has made huge strides in recent years with a string of significant victories under national coach Keith Williams, who will continue to mastermind the progress of the à©lite squad coaching programmes.
English Golf Union www.englishgolfunion.org