Kazakhstan building on its golf Vision

9/22/2013 7:10:00 AM
Laurie Canter (back left) and Jack Senior (back right) pose with a group of young golf students after giving a clinic at the 2013 Kazakhstan Open (Phil Inglis) ()
Laurie Canter (back left) and Jack Senior (back right) pose with a group of young golf students after giving a clinic at the 2013 Kazakhstan Open (Phil Inglis) ()
Matt Beckett has been attending the Kazakhstan Open for the past three years on behalf of ProVision Events, giving clinics to locals and spreading the gospel of the game, and the Englishman believes the standard is dramatically rising every year.

One of the aims of bringing the Challenge Tour to Kazakhstan back in 2004 was to introduce the game to the Central Asian nation for the first time.

Every year, around 100 young volunteers from local universities and elsewhere play an integral part in the tournament as they spend the week spotting balls, working leaderboards or following leading groups with walking scoreboards.

As part of their education prior to the event, they attend a day of learning about the game, enjoying some games and getting lessons from local professionals. 

On top of that, they are afforded free lessons from Beckett, who also performs clinics for local kids at the host venue, Nurtau Golf Club.

Beckett works for ProVision Events and his efforts to educate Kazakhstan on the game of the golf are backed by The European Tour through the Head of European Tour Performance Institute, Fredrik Lindgren. These initiatives generally partner with local federations of developing golf nations as they strive to develop golf in their respective countries. As well as Kazakhstan, Beckett has visited the likes of Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine and Slovenia.

Beckett admits that he was not sure what to expect when visiting Kazakhstan, but has grown to love the country and the enthusiasm of the clientele he meets on a daily basis.

“My colleague had been here the year before I came out so he have me an idea of what to expect,” he said. “He really enjoyed it, even though he had an emergency trip to a local dentist that week!

“They are very green to the game here obviously, very new to the whole concept, so there are a lot of people who have never experienced the game before. The great thing they have got here is enthusiasm – they love to learn something new.

“A lot of them have been around the game with this tournament but have never had the chance to get some lessons from a teacher and learn the basics.

“We’ve seen some people that have started with us and gone on to play in the tournament’s Pro-Am so they are really nice success stories.

“There is an academy system here at Nurtau Golf Club, the first in Kazakhstan, and we have had them over here in the nets this week and we’ve basically told them how good their swings are. The professionals here are doing a very good job.

“But the volunteers that come here for the first time, it’s usually the first time they have ever swung a golf club so they’re intrigued to see what it’s about.”

Beckett has noticed vast improvements in the standards even since he started his annual pilgrimage to Kazakhstan in 2011.

“If you look at the group of volunteers, a bigger group of them are coming back here year-on-year,” he said. “And through that, others who come for the first time have heard about the game from their friends, know what a swing looks like and know the names of some players.

“From what I've seen so far and the plans that the Kazakhstan Golf Federation have got, I think this tournament is doing a lot to get kids into the game. They have a good active junior academy so there is potential for other clubs to do that too.

“It’s one of the most enjoyable tournaments of the year for me because of the development but also because of the people coming here. It’s great fun.”