GAO Announces Changes to Athlete Development Programs in the Province

Uxbridge, ON – The Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) announced today a number of changes to the structure of athlete development programs and funding for high performance junior golfers in the province.


The GAO will be piloting three regional training programs in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa to provide facilities and coaches in closer proximity to young developing athletes under the age of 17.


Led by a head regional coach and a strength and conditioning coach, each U17 regional program will select up to twelve athletes for a five month training program set to commence in November 2013.


Athletes will be selected from a Skills Combine held in each region in mid-October. The top ranked Juvenile (U17) and Bantam (U15) aged players will be invited to attend, but any interested U17 and U15 athletes are welcomed to apply to attend the Skills Combine in their region. Dates and locations will be announced in the coming weeks.


The Skills Combine will encompass golf skill testing as well as golf fitness testing, and will provide participants with a report card and guidance for their individual progression within the sport.


For athletes selected to the regional program, physical development and addressing gaps in technical skills will form the basis of programming.


“The GAO is thrilled to be expanding the pool of talented athletes and coaches in Ontario and the opportunity to enhance our support to members clubs and families in all parts of the province,” said Mike Kelly, GAO Managing Director of Sport Development.  


“As we inch closer to golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016, and the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, investments like these will clear the path for podium performances in the near future, hopefully paved in gold.”  


With the addition of the three new U17 regional programs, the Team Ontario program will also see changes in 2013-2014.


The program, which provides coaching, training, and competitive opportunities for the province’s top junior golfers, has existed in a two-tiered format with U17 and U19 divisions. Moving forward, Team Ontario will exist as one team with a maximum of 14 athletes at any age under 19.


Those selected for the program will be athletes that have demonstrated high potential to progress onto Golf Canada’s national development team. Announcement of the roster for 2013-2014 Team Ontario will happen before the end of September .


Revisions to the NCAA’s policies related to athletes receiving funding from a government program will also affect Ontario junior golfers.


Under the old rules, any potential NCAA student-athlete was ineligible to receive funds from the Ontario Quest for Gold Athlete Assistance Program, as it would have violated NCAA amateurism policies. As a result of the new changes, Team Ontario athletes will be able to receive this funding without jeopardizing their NCAA eligibility.


The GAO currently receives six cards through the Ontario Quest for Gold program, three for male athletes and three for female athletes. Cards will be issued to Team Ontario athletes based on their order of selection to Team Ontario.


The Ontario Quest for Gold program provides financial assistance to junior-aged athletes in the province identified by provincial sport organizations (PSOs) to help athletes continue their pursuit of athletic excellence.