15 May 2024

It takes a village: Canberra golfer Harry Whitelock’s pursuit of success is not a solo effort

| Tim Gavel
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young man holding a trophy

17-year-old Harry Whitelock, the youngest-ever winner of the Royal Canberra Golf Club Championship in 2024. Photo: Supplied.

Almost every week, Harry Whitelock and his family are contacted by talent scouts and coaches associated with colleges in the US. It’s relentless.

This interest has been generated by his incredible success over the past 12 months, particularly his victories in the Webex Players Series, the Greg Norman Junior Masters, the Greg Chalmers Junior Masters and the Peter O’Malley Junior Masters, to name but a few.

two young men holding trophies

Harry Whitelock and Kazuma Kobori after winning the Webex series tournament at Castle Hill Country Club in February 2024. Photo supplied.

With his recent 2024 RCGC Club Championship – he’s the youngest-ever winner of the event – the trophy cabinet is starting to buckle.

Ordinarily, the victories and the pursuit by talent scouts would be enough to unsettle the most level-headed 17-year-olds.

But Harry’s support network, comprising mum Alex, dad Steve, grandparents Michael and Dianne Kumm, and coach Andrew Welsford, have instilled the importance of a strong work ethic and humility from a very young age.

two boys with their grandparents on a golf course

Brothers, Finn and Harry Whitelock, with grandparents Michael and Dianne Kumm at Royal Canberra in earlier days. Photo: Supplied.

With Alex, a former competitive showjumper and Steve, a golf pro, there is also an awareness of the pitfalls associated with success, particularly at a young age – the golf landscape is littered with teenage prodigies who buckled under the weight of expectation.

Harry, who is completing Year 12 at Marist College, also needs this support network to ensure details such as travel and accommodation are taken care of.

Says Harry, “I receive a lot of support from my family, my coach, Drummond Golf, the broader golfing community, including the members at my club Royal Canberra, in particular ‘The Lobsters’. I wouldn’t have an opportunity to chase my dreams without their support.”

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Mum Alex, it would appear, is in charge of logistics, which is very much appreciated.

“Without Alex, we couldn’t do it. It’s a real team effort to keep these kids on the road,” says Steve.

mum and son on golf course

Harry with head of logistics in team Whitelock mum Alex. Photo: Supplied.

Yes, Steve referred to ‘kids’ plural.

There is also another Whitelock making an impact on the Canberra golf scene.

Fifteen-year-old Finn is following in the footsteps of his older brother.

family on a golf course

The Whitelock crew, left to right Finn, Steve, Harry and Alex. Photo: Supplied.

With both boys involved, organising the family requires considerable skill. Harry alone plays in up to 30 tournaments a year.

For Harry, mentoring has come from many quarters as he navigates a path to the pro ranks.

“The Webex Players Series is my favourite tournament,” he says.

“It’s the second time I’ve played with the pros, in particular, David Micheluzzi and Harrison Crowe. And Harrison has spoken to me about his pathway.”

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Twenty-two-year-old Crowe turned professional last year after winning a number of major tournaments as an amateur, including the Asia Pacific Championship in 2022.

For Harry, talking with Harrison Crowe was much more than a couple of rounds of golf. It was a life lesson as much as anything else.

There was plenty to discuss, including the merits of the US college system compared to the programs in Australia and their efforts to match what is being offered elsewhere.

No doubt dad Steve was an interested observer as he caddied for Harry in the two rounds at Castle Hill.

two young men outside golf clubhouse

Harry and younger brother Finn at Royal Canberra 2024. Photo: Supplied.

“The high-performance system in Australia is a relatively new program which provides nutritionists, sports psychology, strength and conditioning coaches,” says Steve.

“Kids can now stay in Australia rather than going overseas to build their game.”

Steve’s pathway was somewhat different. He graduated with a science degree before spending the next 15 years in the golf industry, including a three-year traineeship and the last 10 years in real estate.

Harry is yet to make a decision either way.

“It’s definitely the focus at the moment. Whether it’s staying in Australia or heading to the US college system and playing in high-level college tournaments, as well as getting a university degree, is something I’m considering,” says Harry.

Harry lists many Australians as his favourite players: Cameron Smith Min Woo Lee, Hannah Green and Minjee Lee. They help to inspire his game.

As he plays the patience game before pursuing his ultimate goal of becoming a pro, the support crew seems to be enjoying the journey just as much as Harry.

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