GFT's new season to tee off in Kunming
Updated: 2012-04-06 07:52
By Chen Xiangfeng(China Daily)
They aren't stars. Not yet, at least.
The 2012 season's opening stage of the China Amateur Golf Futures Tour (GFT) will begin next week in Kunming, Yunnan province as new faces will take over for some familiar teenagers who left to turn professional and play on higher-level tours.
The GFT is in its fourth edition and features five tournaments and the national final.
Since its debut in 2009, the GFT has developed smoothly, with an increasing number of participants. Each stage has boasted an average of 140 entrants.
Next week, Kunming will host 138 amateurs.
"After three year of effort and development, we are progressing towards a higher level and more professionally organized tour," said Wu Wen, deputy secretary of the organizing committee. "The tour has produced 28 champions, with half of them under 18 years old. About 100 rising stars have turned pro and started brand-new careers."
The GFT is also a birthplace for national team members as China is hoping to grow competitive golfers with an eye to the 2016 Olympic Games, where the sport will make its Olympic debut.
"It's our responsibility to promote golf and develop GFT among kids," said Yang Liwei, vice-president of Chinese Golf Association (CGA). "We are now in a fast-developing period with so much support from government and public support."
CGA has been developing the sport at the grassroots level in the hope of producing an international superstar like Tiger Woods.
A "Future Star" award will be set up this season for each stage of the tour and the winners will be provided extra chances to learn and play in higher-level tournaments.
Those stage winners qualify for a chance at the annual "Future Star" award, and the final winner will gain professional training session in the noted David Leadbetter Golf Academy in the US.
Coaches from the academy will be invited to join some of the GFT events to provide technical instructions.