South Korean superstar Jiyai Shin claimed victory at the ActewAGL Canberra Classic at Royal Canberra Golf Club back in February this year and has recently announced that she will donate her prizemoney of $22,500 to the ALPG to put towards our ALPG Next Generation Camp and other Development initiatives.
When Jiyai first committed to play in the 2018 ActewAGL Canberra Classic we were absolutely thrilled to have a player of her pedigree in the field, especially given that she had won the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open back at Royal Canberra Golf Club in 2013.
To have her inform us that she wanted to donate her prizemoney back to the ALPG after winning the tournament was really just unbelievable, in the world of professional sport these types of gestures come few and far between.
During the ActewAGL Canberra Classic Jiyai, who is a great sports fan herself spent some time chatting with our ALPG patron Dawn Fraser, and learned about the camp and what ALPG was doing to assist our rookies and younger members, and felt that she would also like to contribute.
It is no secret that Jiyai loves competing in Australia, having won the Australian Open back in 2013, the Ladies Masters in 2016 and now the ActewAGL Canberra Classic once again at Royal Canberra Golf Club this year.
Jiyai has also made no secret for her love of Aussie meat pies, the first thing that she ordered on arrival at Royal Canberra Golf Club in February was a meat pie…I was a witness to it!
After her win at the ActewAGL Canberra Classic Jiyai said that Royal Canberra is now her favourite golf course and that the Aussie meat pies she ate during the week gave her the extra distance on her drives to help her win.
Jiyai also heard about the project which ALPG is working on with Bond University on the Gold Coast, which is to bring international women golfers to Bond University to study the English language whilst refining their golf skills with our ALPG coaches and other industry service providers.
Jiyai, who currently competes full-time on the lucrative Japan LPGA Tour along with spending some time here in Australia with her trainer Richard Nizielski, has told us that she sees great merit in the programme and how it can potentially benefit her colleagues on the Japan LPGA Tour.
When I spoke to Jiyai and thanked her for what she had done she smiled back at me and commented “It’s no problem, I got what I wanted which was the trophy,” being the 50th of her impressive professional career.
Jiyai later commented on her donation:
“I love coming to Australia at the beginning of the year. I feel so welcome and everyone I meet is so caring and passionate about women’s golf and growing the game. I know what it is like to be a young player with a goal to play golf professionally. When I was just starting out and playing in South Korea, I was very lucky to have the support and guidance of some wonderful people. I know that support has helped me have such a wonderful career and I am always thankful for that. Every day, I am grateful for what I have been able to do and when I saw and heard what the ALPG are doing for young women players here, I wanted to give my support and give something back.”
Most readers of Inside Golf will understand that compared to some of golfs’ other governing bodies here in Australia, ALPG is a relatively small organisation with three full-time employees and restrictive budgets.
For some time now we have been discussing holding a camp to assist and mentor our younger players, and in January this year ALPG held our first ever Next Generation Rookie Camp at Ballarat Golf Club after receiving some funding from The R&A.
We had 16 of our members attend the camp including four of our international members, and they all enjoyed the experience immensely, learning from ALPG stars Shani Waugh, Jennifer Sevil, Julia Boland, Stacey Peters, Cathryn Bristow and Mardi Lunn, Osteopath Adam Olarenshaw, PGA representative Nick Bielawski and the great Karrie Webb who Skyped in from her home in Florida.
The feedback following on from the camp and during our 2018 ALPG Tour has all been incredibly positive about the lessons our members learned and the knowledge they gained at the camp.
I really can’t thank Jiyai enough not only for this incredible gesture but for the support she gives to ALPG on an annual basis. This exceptional young woman who is a former world number 1, two-time major winner and winner of 50 International professional tournaments on the world’s major tours all before her 30th birthday is truly a credit to our sport and all those who play it.