With any championship comes preparation, and for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship with invitations to The Open and the Masters Tournament on the line, that preparation is even more important. For several participants in next month’s AAC in Thailand, that preparation came in the form of trips to one of two AAC Academies held in 2022.
“I had a lot of fun here,” said Indonesia’s Jordan Indra Marcello, who attended the AAC Academy at Amata Spring earlier this month. “The coaches are amazing; they are such professionals. They have prepared us well for this course and they bring a lot of experience to us. We’ve learned a lot of new techniques and tricks, like a skip-shot. The facility here is amazing and we all feel well-prepared through this AAC Academy.”
The AAC Academy was created following the 10th anniversary of the AAC in 2018. While catered to fit specific player needs, the AAC Academy focuses on key areas such as sport psychology, strength and conditioning, swing analysis, short game instruction and technical swing improvement. This year, an AAC Academy was held at Amata Spring Country Club – the host course of the 2022 AAC – and in Dubai.
With sessions throughout the week such as putting speed drills, video review of Amata Spring and scrambling out of bunkers, players are exposed to tournament scenarios throughout the five-day event.
“I’m really, really excited to face this tough competition at the AAC,” said Hamza Salmon of Jordan, who attended the AAC Academy in Dubai. “You’re getting the best players from the Asia-Pacific region to be able to experience that atmosphere. To compete with those players is something that is going to be really valuable to me as a golfer and as an individual. To put myself up against the very best in the region and the very best in the continent, that’s something that is going to help me grow and is going to help me play some of my best golf.”
While every player at the AAC has an ultimate goal of winning the championship and earning their way to the Masters and The Open, some players have the opportunity to make history in other ways. Pichmeta Peou is looking to become the first player from Cambodia – a country with approximately 500 registered golfers and just 12 golf courses – to make the cut at the AAC.
“The coaches have done a lot to show all of us players how to play this course,” said Peou, who was on-site at Amata Spring in Thailand. “We have a fitness coach who has helped us with our nutrition and how to keep our stamina high during a tournament. We have a mental coach here who has tested our ability to handle tournaments. And we have a trackman to test the data to see how far we hit it. They have helped us learn if we have hit the right club into the green or not with a trackman. We’ve also learned how to shape shots. I am very thankful for everything that AAC Academy has given to us. Special thanks to the APGC, the Masters Tournament and The R&A for bringing us together to prepare for the AAC.”
For Saleh Alkaabi, the lone AAC participant from Qatar in the 2022 AAC, the AAC Academy is an opportunity to further sharpen his skills. He also hopes to become the first player from his country, which is home to just six golf courses, to make the cut.
“I am excited to play in the AAC this year; I have been playing in the AAC since 2012 when I was much younger, and the level of my game has changed,” said Alkaabi, a participant at the AAC Academy in Dubai. “I’m better now than before. So I’m excited to go there and make the cut and enjoy playing on that golf course because it is one of the nicest golf courses I have ever played.”