It has been almost two months since Golf Canada started its centralized development program at Bear Mountain.
Nolan Thoroughgood is in the midst of the inaugural program right in his backyard.
As a West Shore local, he has always been able to train outside year-round because of the mild climate, so he didn’t think he would see as much of a difference as he has, being part of the development team, he said.
Thoroughgood previously created his own training regiment, but now has access to the facilities at Bear Mountain and professional trainers from Canadian Sport Institute Pacific that he said have been a big help to his training.
Because he is practicing and training with high calibre golfers all the time, he feels the area of his game that has most improved is the mental part and his competitive edge.
“The other guys are really competitive too and we want to beat each other,” he said. “When you play against good players you get better.”
The development team lead coach, Robert Ratcliffe, said Thoroughgood has improved his swing a great deal since the beginning of February.
“That’s just feedback oriented, so the more feedback he’s getting on a consistent basis the quicker the changes happen,” Ratcliffe said. “Even in the month we’ve been here, I can show you before and after videos of where he’s at, and you can see a significant change already.”
Previously, the development team members got 30 to 40 days per year of in-person training with coaches and trainers, but now they have around 150 days together, Ratcliffe said.
Thoroughgood knew three out of his four teammates before the program started. Last summer he played the first two rounds of the Canadian Junior Boys Championship with Peyton Callens and the third round with Johnny Travale. He met Chris Vandette at the Canada Summer Games, leaving Thomas Critch the only teammate he met for the first time at the start of the program.
Thoroughgood said it has been easy to balance school and golf so far. A Grade 12 student at Royal Bay, he goes to school from 9 a.m. until noon and then heads up to Bear Mountain for training in the afternoons. He took an overloaded fall semester in preparation for the development program, so his spring semester is lighter and he said he has time to finish his homework after golf practice.
The development squad headed to Hawaii for their first competitive tournament of the season, the Hawaii Amateur Championship, that took place from March 15 to 18. Thoroughgood, the Oregon State University commit, is excited for the course after a month and a half of hard work.
The squad will play half a dozen tournaments together, including the World Junior Qualifiers hosted at Bear Mountain April 10 to 12, during the program. Once the program ends, the squad will play their own summer schedule, and Ratcliffe will support each of them throughout those tourneys.
Ratcliffe is in his 11th year as a coach for Team Canada and thinks the first year of the centralized program has been a success so far. He said Bear Mountain is a fantastic place to train and the community has embraced the program.