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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ngaP/fb PHILIPPINE golf’s standard bearers Lois Kaye Go (left) and Rianne Malixi provide inspiration to a new breed of women taking up the sport.

One of the things National Golf Association of the Philippines president Martin Lorenzo wanted to know when he assumed office in 2018 was the median age of Filipino golfers.

Back then, global golf was declining. And the entire world wasn’t aware there’s a pandemic coming.

In the Philippines, the situation was even more dire. The median age: 61 years old.

That was based on an unofficial survey made by NGAP secretary general Bones Floro who called up his friends from different clubs in the country.

Unaccounted are golfers who have no club memberships, and registered handicaps.

“What we confirmed is that golf was dying here and everywhere else in the world,” Floro told the Daily Tribune’s Golf Plus.

“And my boss (Lorenzo) was asking, what will happen to golf in the next 20 years?”

Over the decades, golf has been a victim of its own reputation of being “an old man’s sport. And elitist game.”

And that’s why NGAP decided to go in a completely different path: Grassroots development via mothers and their children.

“When fathers play golf, it’s usually among their friends,” Floro said. “But there’s a study that when mothers play golf, they bring along their family.”

That’s on top of NGAP’s development thrust which centered on golf hotbeds like Del Monte in Bukidnon, and Davao.

NGAP had been providing free clinics to children of golf industry workers. “We want those who are exposed to golf but don’t have the means. Like children of caddies, groundskeepers and club employees,” Floro said.

But just like everything else, it ground to a half when the pandemic came.

Now as NGAP is trying to revive the program — with plans to go to Bacolod and Cebu — it is also taking on a different tack by tapping on women. Specifically mothers.

“It is the advocacy of the NGAP and my boss, Mr. Lorenzo,” Floro said.

“When they ask us to recommend, we don’t only recommend women players but women who work in the golf industry. We wanted to jump on that, to expand golfing population.”

Floro said that after the Asian Games later this month in Hangzhou, China, NGAP will start its unique “three-in-one” approach.

“We will give free clinics to mothers and their children, they must have two kids and must be total beginners,” Floro said.

“We want to convert non-golfers. And do it by batches. First, we’ll start with eight mothers and two children each. Those who already started, they can go to their own coaches.”

He said the program would also engage teaching pros who have an opportunity to have long-term students.

“That’s our insurance for the next generation. We give (mothers) five to eight teaching sessions for free. And hopefully we they get hooked,” Floro added.

Now who wouldn’t get addicted to the flight of a perfectly struck ball, right?

NGAP is likewise counting on the popularity of the likes of Bianca Pagdanganan, Yuka Saso and Lois Kaye Go right after they won golds in the 2018 Asian Games.
“These ‘golden girls’ as they call it provide role models to this new generation of women golfers.”

The pandemic has also brought something good for the sport. Parents now encourage their kids to go out and play instead of tinkering with their gadgets like they did during the lockdowns.

“During the pandemic, there was a global golf boom,” Floro said.

He was referring to the study that saw the increases in handicaps issued, sales of equipment and apparel — especially women’s golf wear.

Truly, it’s a mother of all opportunities worth taking.

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