Greener pastures await young Sri Lanka golfers | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Greener pastures await young Sri Lanka golfers

8 August, 2021

There is encouraging news for young, talented and enthusiastic golfers who wish to represent the country in the sport in a few years from now.

Sri Lanka Golf (SLG) the controlling body for the sport, will continue to develop and train them with the intention of producing a medal winner at the Youth Olympics that is to be held in 2026.

To get the ball rolling SLG will conduct trials from the existing group of young golfers to pick a national squad. Their age should be under-18 years and be confident to take up any challenges at the Youth Olympics that will take place in four years from now.

These young golfers will also be given the opportunity to represent the country at other international youth tournaments that will be held prior to the Youth Olympics according to Lal Wickramatunga the secretary of SLG.

Former golfer Jehan de Saram will be in charge of this development squad. He has been training young golfers for some time now but the pandemic had halted their training for quite a while now.

The development of young golfers was begun by Ana Punchihewa when he was the president of the Golf Union about five years ago. He was able to attract as many golfers from the schools in Colombo. Later it expanded to other districts such as Kandy and Nuwara Eliya where golf courses exist.

Niloo Jayathilaka was in charge of organizing their training and also conducted tournaments such as the monthly medal rounds to keep alive their enthusiasm. Their age was from under-9 to 16 years.

“Golf is no more a sport for the elite. I encouraged players from less fortunate families also to join in and some of them displayed their ability to play good golf,” said Punchihewa.

They also attracted a sponsor to conduct these medal rounds monthly at various venues.

Currently, the young golfers are only practicing in various venues such as Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Hambantota. Only players from those areas can attend these practice sessions due to travel restrictions imposed in the country at present. “The young players will be trained in various venues that have different slope ratings in accordance with world standards. This will give the players an opportunity to adjust to various surfaces as many players as possible will be selected to the national squad after conducting trials,” said Wickrematunga.

Sri Lanka Golf has also planned to conduct the Sri Lanka Open and the Grand Prix by the end of the year to add more interest in the sport. Teams will also be sent for the Asia-Pacific golf tournaments to be held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi this year according to Wickrematunga.