Singapore: A firm commitment to collaboration, technology and diversity are fundamental to Asia’s future golfing prospects.
Speaking during the latest in a series of AGIF podcasts with prominent figures from the golf industry, Thornberry said he’s encouraged with golfing developments in the region, but believes greater emphasis needs to be focused in three crucial areas.
He said: “It’s key to have strength in numbers and for people and organisations to be working together, in collaboration, for a common goal, much like you’ve established with the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“When you’re able to bring all these different voices and opinions into the same room, working for that same common goal is going to reap much greater rewards much quicker … and it will be a much more successful and sustainable product. That’s what I’ve been seeing these past few years in the industry, and I’d like to see more of that.
“At the PGA of America, we’re working much closer with our allied associations. Internationally, that includes organisations such as the AGIF and The R&A. It was thanks to a joint effort, of which the PGA of America was a part, that golf was able to be brought back into the Olympics.
“A lot more can be done if we’re all working together and I think we’re trending that way.”
As far as technology is concerned, Thornberry has no doubt it will become more widely used across many aspects of the golf industry in the years ahead.
He said: “I think technology will take much more of a front seat in our industry. We can see what’s happening now with all the digital coaching content coming to the forefront. A lot of our PGA of America members are pivoting, a lot of our facilities are pivoting, and work places are having to adapt with technology in staying connected.
“There’s ever-increasing media content that we’re seeing on our televisions, computers and mobile screens. This has been a focus for us. Shortly before Covid, the PGA set up an innovation fund. It’s tasked with looking at existing companies, technologies and ideas outside of the golf industry and considering how can we bring them in to assist the golf industry and make us better. I see that becoming more and more prevalent.”
During these unsettled times when calls for greater diversity are being voiced with increasing vigour around the globe, Thornberry urges all golfing organisations to act for the long-term betterment of the industry.
He said: “We have to look at ways in which we can provide greater diversity for our sport and the industry. There are not enough opportunities to enter our game. We must provide educational opportunities to help break down barriers and the stigma around the game.
“The Asian Golf Industry Federation is actively working on solutions to increase the number of participants within the Federation and within the Asian industry. That’s something that the PGA of America would love to contribute to as much as we can.”
Thornberry cites the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship as one of the ways in which the organisation with which he works is creating golf industry opportunities for diverse candidates.
Described as the most culturally significant championship in collegiate golf in the US, the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship annually hosts student-athletes enrolled in historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving educational institutions. A total of 189 students from 41 schools competed in 2019.
“We need to see more and more of those type of initiatives … and I think that’s going to happen,” said Thornberry.
*To listen to the full interview with Sean Thornberry, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/