Wales’s top amateur golfers will be mixing competition with practice, with prizes on offer, when they head off for a pre-season tournament at the Amendoeira Resort in Portugal this week.
A week of warm weather practice ahead of the start of the season has been a regular date in the diary for the top players in Wales, for example it helped the Men’s team become European Nations champions last year.
This year will see our leading male and female players involved in three days of competition, with the two winners from the 10 male and nine female players automatically included in the training groups who will go to Carton House in Ireland for a training block ahead of the World Amateur Team Championships.
“We want to increase the performance aspect of our training week in Portugal,” explained Wales Golf performance director Gillian O’Leary.
“This year we have five full days on site, two for practice and three rounds of competition in our 54 hole pre-season tournament. It means we are focusing on performance, rather than just training, with the players behaving from start to finish as though they are going through a tournament. It will be an opportunity to observe them and help them to get tournament ready at the start of the season.”
With all four of last season’s European Nations Cup winning team having turned professional and some new faces coming through the ranks in the ladies squad as well, it is a chance for Welsh amateur golfers from the national performance, support and transition programmes to start making their mark.
“We are sending a girls’ team to the European Team Championships in July, which we have not done for the last couple of years, so the tournament calendar is changing,” said O’Leary.
“We are make efforts to empower players to become more self-sufficient during the week and then we can review that afterwards, we need to know what works for them to get the most out of their game. Performance Coaches in the men’s national coach Neil Matthew and ladies national coach Paul Williams will offer support and information, but players will own their performance and take control of driving their own programmes. It will be like any other tournament with the results being put up on the website each day.”
Professionals, Stuart Manley and Jack Davidson will also travel as part of the group and compete as well as taking part in a Q and A, so this will bring another dynamic. “In Stuart Manley, the players can see how a European Tour player prepares and plays, this is a fantastic opportunity for them to benefit from his advice and knowledge.”