THE emergence of young players dominating professional golf tours around the globe is becoming something of the norm.

Gone are the days where tour pros peaked in their thirties. With the game becoming more accessible and affordable in every pocket of the world, the pro circuit is reaping major rewards.

Case in point: Lydia Ko, the 19-year-old world No.1 from New Zealand, is on a pathway that is proving to be superhuman, breaking records in effortless fashion and rewriting the passage of the typical journey to the top.

During the past there was a definite formula to reach golf’s pinnacle. It began by playing the sport for fun, as a kid. Then there was college golf, where you discovered your game and everyone else’s. Next up it was practising relentlessly in preparation for the tour. And finally, once in possession of that elusive tour card, you had to ride the emotional rollercoaster of professional golf.

Not for Lydia Ko and Co (pun intended). For the young Kiwi phenom, the journey to the top was brief. In fact, it seems as if she has only just arrived. At 17, Ko was the youngest player of either gender to reach the No.1 ranking in the world. She was 18 when she won her first Major tournament, also a record, and she has already clocked up 13 LPGA Tour wins, three of those coming this year and we are only halfway through the season.

When it comes to inspiring young girls like Lydia Ko, names such as LPGA legends Inbee Park and Yani Tseng are responsible.
When it comes to inspiring young girls like Lydia Ko, names such as LPGA legends Inbee Park and Yani Tseng are responsible.

So why is golf producing incredible talent at such a young age? In my opinion, the game has become significantly more global during the past 20 years and there is a heightened awareness of the sport. I also believe the emergence of young female talent, like Ko, has absolutely nothing to do with Tiger Woods’ impact on the game. Tiger’s 10-year run of dominance certainly elevated the financial aspect of the game, so dramatically that he’s been the impetus for its most recent surge in global popularity. However, when it comes to inspiring young girls like Ko, names such as LPGA legends Inbee Park and Yani Tseng are responsible.

There is now a recognition that children with an aptitude for the game, particularly females, are going to be put in good stead for life in every facet by playing golf. If they make it to the top, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

It’s no secret many Asian cultures have all the right components to produce a young superstar golfer – their work ethic is relentless, they have an uncanny ability to quickly learn technique, and they possess incredible physical and mental strength. Essentially, hard work combined with natural talent results in the closest thing to a human “golf robot”.

Golf delivers in a myriad of ways – it is a great form of exercise, teaches life lessons,  is character building and, at times, soul searching.

The other little gem is that it is extremely lucrative in the top echelon. Parents all over the world would be lying if they said that little fact had not crossed their mind when they put their four-year-old’s name down for the junior clinic at the local club.

Whether the objective is to find out if you have the next Lydia Ko on your hands, or if it’s to get your child engaged in a fun, safe and social sport, introducing juniors to golf can only be a good thing.

I believe in exposing children to a variety of extracurricular activities at a young age, see where their interests and talents lie, then guide them in directions where their attention is peaked. If golf is a sport that appeals to them, encourage them, but please, remember to tell them to have fun, too.

Annabel Rolley is an Australian Golf Professional and the new host of Australian Golf Digest TV