Milestone: First Faldo series final outside the U.K.
The only way to address that question, in my view, was to start a program. We’d all seen how the Swedish junior program had succeeded. They began in the early eighties, and pretty soon 30 percent of the players on the European Tour were Swedish. So I thought, let’s get things started. The R&A and other sponsors help keep costs modest for golfers (ages twelve to twenty-one), from the U.K. as well as countries such as Iceland, Turkey, Russia and India.
Watching our Faldo Series championships last fall in Brazil, I was delighted to see how many young golfers were in the field and the many countries they represented. In ten years the number of players benefiting from this program has risen from three hundred or so (in the U.K. only) to more than four thousand worldwide. It all started with some chatter in the media, asking where the next British champions were coming from.
I’m excited by our new events in Brazil and Russia. We will bring top competition to both countries, along with seminars for players and grass-roots activities for children, some of whom have never even picked up a club.
Something like our Faldo Series gives players a leg up, but make no mistake: Success in golf always comes down to personal commitment.
There aren’t many secrets about what steps young players have to take and what skills they need to reach the top. The college route is a safety net for parents, really—if things don’t work out, you’ve got a degree. Outside of a college program, figure on five years as an amateur and then turning pro at about age twenty, after you have worked with a good coach and competed in unfamiliar surroundings.