PGA of Asia Is Launched

The long-awaited PGA of Asia was launched at the inaugural PGA Conference of Asia last weekend. The announcement was met with unanimous support from over 300 delegates who attended the two-day conference in Bangkok.

"This is truly a historic moment for professional golf in Asia and I am delighted that we have made a good start to lay the foundations for the PGA of Asia and to set the directions for its future growth in the region," said Tony Meechai, president and chief executive officer of the PGA of Asia.

Tony, a certified PGA of America professional, has worked tirelessly to establish the PGA of Asia. "It has been a two-year exercise to get the body organized and incorporated in Bangkok," he said.

"The primary thrust of the PGA of Asia will be focused on addressing three pressing needs and these include education, training and certification," Meechai said. The training and education programs will be very similar to that of the more established PGA organizations but will be tweaked to address the specific needs of Asian professionals. "We already have a curriculum in place and it has been worked on for many months and the general consensus indicates that we are on track to roll out programs that will cater to the needs of working professionals in Asia," Meechai pointed out.

One of the major challenges of the PGA of Asia concerns the proper certification of its members. "This is very critical and we intend to ensure that we have a credible system in place that will accord our members with certification that is in keeping with world standards," stressed Meechai. "Our role is primarily intended to support the work of national PGAs throughout Asia. While the national PGAs issue local certification for their respective members, the PGA of Asia will be issuing certification that will be recognized and authenticated internationally," Meechai said. As an analogy, he described the PGA of Asia's certification being more like an "international driver's license."

The membership target of the PGA of Asia is to have at least 1,000 members enrolled within the first 18 months. "The establishment of the PGA of Asia is very timely and it has come at a point in time when Asia is experiencing exponential growth in the game of golf, especially at the professional end," said Kyi Hla Han, executive chairman of the Asian Tour. Han, who delivered the keynote address at the conference, added, "The Asian Tour will be fully supportive of the PGA of Asia and we will work towards getting it recognized globally."

One of the highlights of the conference was a special address from Hank Haney, one of the world's top golf coaches. In his speech, Haney said, "Asia is a very important part of the world for golf and we will be doing a lot of work in Asia to grow the game of golf." He took the opportunity to announce the launch of the Hank Haney Asia Series for juniors at the PGA Conference of Asia.

Another major address was delivered by Brian Mogg, founder of the Brian Mogg Performance Center. Mogg is the man who steered South Korea's Y.E. Yang to his victory over Tiger Woods in last year's PGA Championship to secure the very first major win for an Asian player. Mogg received a standing ovation for his speech, which focused on the training and development model to produce world-beaters from Asia.

More than 20 international speakers delivered position papers on various aspects of golf coaching and development. Delegates came from various parts of the region, including India, Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia and America.

The PGA Conference of Asia was organized by the Asia Pacific Golf Development Conferences (APGDC). "The response to this inaugural event was overwhelming - based on the feedback survey that we conducted on site, every delegate voted to have the conference staged annually and in fact most wanted it to be a longer event," exclaimed Mike Sebastian, managing director of APGDC.

The dates for the 2011 conference were also announced. It will be held in Bangkok on March 18-20 and will be staged in conjunction with the 2011 Southeast Asia/India Golf Merchandise Exposition.

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