The Westpac Schools Golf Development program is reaching its culmination in 2018, just in time for the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.

Thanks to Westpac’s support, this is the fourth year the program has run in Fiji and 2018 saw the addition of three new schools joining the program, extending the program to RakiRaki.

Students have been provided with new golf equipment including specially designed clubs and balls to make the introduction to the sport as simple as possible.

Competing since March, the young golfers were in the running for an unforgettable experience. A select few received an invitation to play nine holes at the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa, which for some, was the first time they have seen a golf course.

Chris Hamilton, Resort Manager at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa said they enjoyed hosting the budding young golfers.

“We are very proud to have hosted the young golfers at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa, the Westpac Schools Golf Development program has proven to be a great way to introduce the kids to a game they can play for life,” said Hamilton.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to say Fiji’s next Vijay Singh played their first tournament round of golf here at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa.”

Emani Nuirua who has undergone training with the PGA of Australia to help educate school-aged Fijians on the basics of golf says the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways is the perfect tool to introduce young Fijians to the game and also see how far the game can take them.

“The main aim for the 2018 program is to start transitioning the students from playing golf in school yards to getting them out on course.

We will be working with the various golf clubs around Fiji to try and build pathways and sustainable programs at the clubs,” said Nuirua.

“This year’s program took place in the lead up to the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways, and will end with the opportunity for students to attend the tournament and receive behind the scenes tours.”

The aim is to both celebrate the program’s success and reward those students who have shown interest and skill in the game.

Nuirua will once again lead the coaching, along with Anasa Seruvatu and Apenisa Koroicure. School teachers will also be provided the opportunity to gain community golf leader accreditation throughout the year.

Gavin Kirkman, CEO of the PGA of Australia which owns the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia thanked Westpac and Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa for their support of grassroots golf in Fiji.

“Westpac has been a great supporter of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways over the years and their Schools Development Program has been a fantastic way to get young Fijians into golf,” said Kirkman.

“We would also like to thank Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa for hosting the lucky kids in what I’m sure was an unforgettable experience.

“Our goal via the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways was to introduce golf to Fiji. As a sport golf has many health benefits and can be played for life.

“This is one game development initiative to arise from the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways and we are extremely proud to see Fijian kids enjoying themselves which ensures we are leaving a lasting legacy for golf which extends well beyond tournament week.”

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