Two outstanding youngsters have become the first to become “benchmark athletes” under Golf Australia’s new high performance system.

Canberra’s Josh Armstrong (pictured) and Sydney’s Grace Kim, both members of Golf NSW’s high performance program, have each reached the tier two benchmark – formerly “national squad” – standards after recent victories.

Armstrong, 17, who plays pennants for The Lakes Golf Club, reached the criteria with a runner-up finish at the IMG Academy World Junior and wins at the Jack Newton International and Greg Norman Junior Masters. He was also a key player for the ACT in its impressive fourth-place finish at the recent Australian boys’ junior Interstate Series.

Kim, 16, who plays pennants for Avondale Golf Club, won a thrilling Australian Girls’ Amateur Championship at Port Kembla after previously winning the Victorian Junior Masters and the Greg Norman Junior Masters. She was also a key member of the winning NSW team in the Australian girls’ junior Interstate Series. Kim has also qualified to play in next year’s Women’s Australian Open at Kooyonga in Adelaide.

Both will represent New South Wales in the open-age Interstate Series in Perth this week.

Golf NSW national coach Dean Kinney said it was a great reward for the youngsters’ dedication.

“Golf NSW and Jack Newton Junior Golf are both very proud of Josh and Grace, proving the pathways are successful to produce elite players both with men and women,” Kinney said. “Both have come through the system from the talent identification camps through to being high performance athletes. Not only that, they are inspiring the athletes around them with their work ethic and professionalism.”

The benchmark athlete status enables extra benefits for both players over and above their existing funding and support through Golf NSW. Among a large range of additional benefits, they will get a stipend for travel to international tournaments, more money towards coaching fees and sports science expenses and a subsidy towards playing professional events.

Golf Australia high performance director Brad James was excited with the pair’s progress and to be able to help their future development. He also said it was a great example of how the new nationally co-ordinated “benchmark athlete” model worked.

“Those two, along with all other high performance squad members in the state programs around Australia, already receive funding and other `home-base’ support as they develop,” James said. “In this instance, their tier two benchmark status is additional backing on top of that provided by the Golf NSW HP program which has produced outstanding results in the past couple of years.”

Grace and Josh hold this status until December 31.

See for more information on the Golf Australia high performance program.