Hood takes on Talent ID role with Ulster branch

Ulster branch General Secretary, Kevin Stevens, welcomes, new Talent ID Officer,  Stephen Hood

Ulster branch General Secretary, Kevin Stevens, welcomes, new Talent ID Officer, Stephen Hood (right)

AT a time of falling participation numbers, the GUI Ulster Branch is pressing forward with an ambitious project to find and develop the next generation of golfing stars by appointing former Cairndhu professional, Stephen Hood, as the very first Talent Identification Officer.
While other mainstream sports like rugby, GAA and football have long employed development officers, the 35-year-old from Belfast will be blazing a trail for the game in Ulster.
“I’m well aware that it is very much a pioneering role and it’s going to take a few months to get settled in,” said Hood, who won the 1994 Ulster Boys Championship and earned amateur caps for Ulster, Ireland and GB&I.
“The early months will be about getting feedback from everyone involved in the game here; coaches, clubs, parents, convenors etc as to what the job role requires.

“We need to make sure that the model we use reflects the needs of everyone involved. I will be looking around at those other sporting bodies that have similar roles to try and find some good models and ideas going forward.”

After a spell playing collegiate golf in America, Stephen turned professional at 19 and began his apprenticeship under the tutelage of the National Ladies Coach, David Kearney, at Galway driving range in Salthill.
He moved to Rosses Point at Co.Sligo Golf Club, working for past PGA Captain, Jim Robinson. While there he won the PGA Assistants Championship and established himself as a top coach.
He was appointed club professional at Cairndhu in 2005 and opened the Hoodgolf Academy in 2008. During his time at Cairndhu the youth section flourished with the Co Antrim club winning the Fred Daly trophy and an Irish Junior Foursomes pennant.
Stephen has been working with the Ulster branch as a high performance coach since 2008 but his new role will be much less hands-on in terms of coaching. Put simply, his job will be to ensure that talented golfers are identified early and offered the right support structures so they can reach their full potential.
But while that sounds straightforward on paper, the reality is that the current structures and strategies will have to be assessed before deciding on what needs to be done.
It’s a process that will not pay dividends overnight and to succeed, it will require the support of the entire golfing community in Ulster.
“The key here will be communication. We will be transparent and open because we will need to bring everyone along with us,” added Stephen.
“My responsibility will be on developing the programmes, rolling them out and then providing education on how those programmes can be best delivered.
“In many ways, I will become a facilitator for the golfing bodies here and help to bridge any communications gaps.”

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