World renowned golf coach David Leadbetter inaugurated his first academy in India at the Oxford Golf Resort here on Friday, promising to provide professional coaching to all levels and ages of golfers.
Through the Leadbetter Golf Academy, the 64-year-old Englishman said, his instructors are eager to tap the untapped golfing potential among youngsters in India, which is known for producing elite professionals in the ball sports like cricket and hockey.
Leadbetter, who has so far worked with 22 Major winners in the men's and women's categories, pointed out that Indian youngsters tend to have the important trait of hand and eye coordination, which they master by playing cricket and hockey.
Hence, if given a proper platform to showcase and maximise their talent, Indian youngsters will excel in golf as well, said Leadbetter, who now has 29 academies across 14 countries.
"There is a lot of talent in India and India has a history in sports like cricket and hockey. India has the potential to make it big in golf too and it needs more players now to create a competition so that the cream rises to the top," he told at a press meet.
"We need to promote golf and that can be done in the best way at the youth level. I have the passion to help young players and we, through this academy, will look to give enough opportunities to the young kids through various programmes so that they take up the sport and be better in it," he added.
Highlighting the importance of coaching education, he said he also intends to coach and train coaches in the long run.
The academy will offer a variety of programmes -- from one day "Express" Schools to long term "Evolve" package. The Academy at Oxford will offer Trackman 4, Balance Plates, K/Vest, Sam Putt Lab and Swing Catalyst Online Video Analysis for the learning benefits of golf students, the organisers said.
Leadbetter gave the example of countries like China and South Korea, the two countries with no legacy of golf but right now sending many players at various professional Tours. From South Korea, at least 40 women golfers competed at last year's Majors.
Leadbetter, who started out as a player on European and South African Tour before turning to coaching, highlighted that at least 3,000 women golfers play in South Korea.
"They are doing well now because of the numbers of people play golf over these two countries. We need to understand that the numbers will add to the competition, which adds to the quality, due to which few of them (definitely) can make it big," he reasoned.
Leadbetter also felt that given the quality of the Oxford course, 18-hole private golf resort spread across 150 acres within a 1000 acres township, the youngsters will avail one of the world's best facilities.
Speaking at the launch of the academy, Oxford Group chairman Anirudh Seolekar said: "One of our passions at the academy is to develop the stars of tomorrow. We offer a comprehensive, holistic junior programme -- for grass roots levels and 'Get Golf Ready' programmes for elite level coaching. We also provide residential 'Junior Performance Camps' and an exciting 'Junior Satellite Programme' for those that live afar."
"Additionally, the academy will offer mental conditioning sessions and physical performance training as an integral part of the junior development mission. I am grateful to Leadbetter for honouring us with India's maiden academy at Oxford Golf Resort and hope to continue this association for the long run."
Leadbetter also inaugurated the 17th edition of the Mercedes Trophy in Pune. The annual tournament organised by Mercedes-Benz India will be played in a span of 24 days engaging about 2,500 golfers in the country.
A total of 36 winners from the qualifying rounds being held in 12 cities -- Pune, Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Gurugram, Jaipur and Greater Noida -- will then compete at the National Finals at Oxford Golf Resort, Pune, in March.
Three finalists who qualify at the National Finals will get a life time opportunity to participate in the Mercedes Trophy World Finals at Stuttgart, Germany, in September 2017.
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