NIAS golf squad hit the course

Eyes on the ball: Rocky River's Toby Cooper lines up for this tee shot as the NIAS squad met for the first time on the weekend. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB051

Eyes on the ball: Rocky River's Toby Cooper lines up for this tee shot as the NIAS squad met for the first time on the weekend. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB051

The Tamworth Golf Club/Northern Inland Academy of Sport golf program teed off in Tamworth on the weekend.

The program has undergone a bit of an overhaul for 2017.

“This year we’ve gone down a bit of a different path,” head coach Brock Sampson said.

Rather than just the one group, they’ve changed to two tiers, and have relaxed the handicap. 

“What we were finding was we were limiting ourselves,” Sampson said.

“We were finding we had the good golfers but the higher handicappers we kind of lost them unless they improved out of sight.”

This way they can get them when they’re just really starting out and bring them through.

“Hopefully they’ll be in the program for a few years,” Sampson said.

The tiers will train together and predominantly go through the same drills. 

“The more the younger kids see the better kids play, it kind of drives them along,” he said.

Toby Cooper, Matthew Felton, Lachlan Flemming, Thomas Gill, Taryn Maher, Bailey Milford, Declynd Morris and Jock McPherson form the squad,  and hail from all over the region.

The training weekend started with a meet and greet and some short game testing on Saturday morning to give Sampson and assistant coach Andrew Brennan, who is a recent graduate of the program, a gauge of where they are at and where they need to improve.

It was then out onto the course, with the squad competing in the Tamworth Golf Club Saturday afternoon competition.

“They all played around their handicap, which was good,” Sampson said.

Cooper particularly had a good round breaking his handicap.

They then reconvened on Sunday morning for some putting drills and to go over their stats from Saturday.

“We wanted to try and give them things they can take away and practice,” Sampson said.

The program itself will operate the same was previous years with regional training weekends and various tournaments they’ll compete in as a squad.

“They’ll play in the Peter O’Malley junior masters at Bathurst, the Academy Games and we’ll have a joint session with the Hunter Academy again,” he said.

Individually they’ll also play in different tournaments. Gill has got the Nick Faldo series next month, which is a qualifying event for the world series, and then the Jack Newton Week of Golf in January.

It was another busy weekend for the academy with the Wests Entertainment Group hockey squads and Glen Innes & District Services Club and Carlo’s IGA netball squads also put through their paces.

The session at the Glen Innes High School was for the netball girls their first and concluded with a team lunch at the Glen Innes & District Services Club. 

The hockey squads meanwhile met in Tamworth on Sunday for their second regional training session. The session included fitness and clinical testing orchestrated by exercise physiologists at Rural Fit Tamworth. 

Long drive: Tamworth's Jock McPherson watches his shot's path during the weekend's NIAS training session. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB007

Long drive: Tamworth's Jock McPherson watches his shot's path during the weekend's NIAS training session. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB007

On line: Coonabarabran's Bailey Millford is one of the new young faces in this year's NIAS golf squad. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB041

On line: Coonabarabran's Bailey Millford is one of the new young faces in this year's NIAS golf squad. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB041

Whack: Tamworth's Tom Gill practices his driving during the NIAS squad's first training weekend. He's one of a few returning members. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB082

Whack: Tamworth's Tom Gill practices his driving during the NIAS squad's first training weekend. He's one of a few returning members. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB082

Follow through: Gunnedah's Taryn Maher is the lone female in this year's NIAS squad. Here she watches her drive. Photo: Peter Hardin  261116PHB029

Follow through: Gunnedah's Taryn Maher is the lone female in this year's NIAS squad. Here she watches her drive. Photo: Peter Hardin 261116PHB029

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