SUMMERSIDE – The 16-member P.E.I junior golf development team went to school over the weekend, learning tips and techniques that could take them to the national level and beyond.
Provincial golf coach Dallas Desjardins, who is also coach of the development team and general manager of Summerside Golf and Country Club, arranged the spring training camp through Golf Canada, which provided national development team coach Robert Ratcliffe to lead the instruction.
“This is part of their program to help provincial squads to run camps effectively and efficiently,” to help them grow and strengthen, explained Desjardins.
The provincial system provides the broad base of players from the club system, which narrows to the provincial representatives, and eventually filters to the elite national level, according to organizers.
Desjardins has been instrumental in building the provincial golf team structure over the past few years, though he credits a team of supporters and sponsors for the achievements that have been realized.
“With the (corporate) funding, we’ve hired a full, integrated support team,” continued Desjardins. “It’s not just me; we have an on-staff strength coach, physiotherapist and mental coach.
“We’ve been training all winter, and this is the transition into our competitive season.”
Ratcliffe respects what has been achieved. He aimed to support the coaches running the provincial program, but he also to wanted to engage the athletes with information on a larger scale, share best practices and motivate them to advance.
“We already have kids that are playing competitively,” Ratcliffe said. “We’re at a level that it is not about covering the basics anymore; it’s about taking that next step.”
Ratcliffe acknowledged that includes advancing on tournament preparation, fitness and conditioning, mental and nutrition more so than technique.
“They can hit just as good as anyone,” assessed Ratcliffe. “The difference comes in how we can take an athlete like this, and have them win at the regional and national level.”
Ratcliffe doesn’t expect immediate success from the program, but rather to see a trend to being a norm rather than an exception, and the results that will come from that.
Desjardins is more optimistic about what will come out of the training weekend.
“I’m excited to see how well they developed over the winter,” he said before the sessions began.
Saturday’s schedule at the Summerside course included planning pre-game routines, maintaining strength and mobility during the season, warm-up routines, swing routines, planning course strategy and playing to a plan.
Sunday’s schedule planned to put instruction into action at Eagles Glenn Golf Course, starting with stretch and workout, then a short-putt practice before sport psychologist Tara Costello focused on mental preparation for competition.
The afternoon scheduled attention to controlling distance and pitching, practice on full swing from the routines learned the day before, learning about trajectories and finishing with fairway and bunker techniques.
Strength and conditioning coaches Mitch Read and Corey Arsenault ran sessions the first day, as did physiotherapist Colin Moore.
Desjardins expects to see almost immediate results from this training camp.
“We started this whole program with the Canada Games team,” said Desjardins. “It kicked in a little bit late, but the golf they were playing in the fall of last season was really exceptional.
“It’s going to be exciting to see what their scores are like coming in the Order of Merit and some of the provincial and national championships. I do expect a great summer from our squad.
“We’re going to proudly wear the National Junior Golf Development Centre crest on the shirts for every event that we play.”