06 Jul 2022 | Industry news |

Herbert joins Give Back initiative

by Martin Blake

Lucas Herbert Give Back image

One of Australia’s top pro golfers has invested his money back into Golf Australia’s elite amateur programs as part of the world-leading Give Back initiative.

Men’s world No. 48 Lucas Herbert recently handed over the entire sum of his obligations under the scheme, becoming the second Australian player to contribute under the scheme after current world No. 2 Minjee Lee kicked it off in 2021.

The notion of professional golfers parting with their money to help future-proof the elite game in their home country has attracted attention around the golf world since it was first announced in 2015, given that it is groundbreaking.

Golf Australia’s High Performance program works closely with the states to develop the next generation of elite Australian golfers, and has helped create the likes of women’s major winner Minjee Lee and men’s world No. 6 Cameron Smith. Australia is batting strongly on the world stage, currently holding seven men inside the top 100 on the world rankings, and two women.

Under the Give Back arrangement, all elite players who came through Golf Australia programs since 2015 signed an agreement to return a portion of what it cost to fund them as amateurs and during the first five years of their professional careers once they reach certain thresholds – a top 125 ranking for men and top 50 for women – and have earned a certain level of prizemoney.

They are not required to hand back anything in their first five years as professionals; nor are they indebted if they do not reach the benchmark rankings, or asked to contribute beyond a certain cap.

Australia’s top-ranked male player, Cameron Smith, chose to make his Give Back contribution by establishing his own scholarship fund, under which he hosts two young Queensland amateurs at his home in Florida each year, while Minjee Lee was the first elite player to hand back a sum of cash directly into the High-Performance systems in Australia.

“I’m absolutely rapt to be part of this,” said Herbert. “I had no hesitation when I heard about it. I’ve been very lucky to have benefited from the state and national programs when I was an amateur and a young professional out of the Bendigo area, and I’m forever grateful for that. Having made my way to the PGA Tour, this is the least I can do to help, and I love the fact that the money will go straight back into the same programs that helped make me who I am today.”

The 26-year-old Victorian Herbert has won tournaments in both the US PGA Tour and the DP World Tour in Europe over the past two years, and is now the third-ranked male Australian player behind Cameron Smith and Adam Scott.

Brad James, Golf Australia’s General Manager High Performance, said the Give Back program was now kicking in and having an impact.

“Providing developmental opportunities via international competition, camps, coaching and service provision is a key element of what the national program delivers,” said James today.

“The additional funding from the Give Back program allows us to deliver these advantages to a larger cohort of athletes.

“It includes the mentoring and role modelling programs that have been established where our Australian players guide younger people through when they arrive on tour, just practise with them or hang with them at the Australian Golf House in Florida, helping them out with the loneliness and uncertainty that can come for a young pro.

“This scheme really fits with that mentoring system. It’s a chance for the Herberts and (Cam) Smiths and the Minjee Lees to put something back into the sport in their country, it helps us fund the High Performance programs at home, and it makes Team Australia a stronger unit in what is a very competitive, extremely tough and a very international game.

“We’re so thankful to players like Lucas and Minjee for the contribution that they’ve made and for the fact that they have done it so willingly. We’re very proud of what they’ve become.”

Herbert is in Scotland preparing for next week’s Open Championship at St Andrews.

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