In the history of Olympic women's gymnastics, Russia and the former USSR reign supreme with 37 gold medals. The second-winningest country is not the United states. It's Romania, with 22 golds, counting gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Ecaterina Szabo among its national sporting heroes.
How did a country of 20 million people punch - or rather vault and somersault - so far above its weight? Those in the know attribute its dominance from the 1970s into the 2000s to its centralized, organized and efficient training program. Devote time, expertise and resources to young athlete development and you get results.
Golf is a somewhat lonelier sport than gymnastics, but many countries have their own national junior and amateur "teams" meant to rear the next generation of great global players. Brooke Henderson is a prime example of the goal of such programs, having had access to coaching and playing opportunities through Team Canada for almost a decade. She has done well for herself and her country.
The size of the United States makes for a different dynamic, but there is potential for similar golfer-development programs from individual states. Earlier this month, the Florida State Golf Association announced the formation of Team Florida, which comprises 41 players chosen based on performance in state and national events. The association seeks to spread $60,000 to these young golfers in order to help defray travel and tournament expenses. One Team Florida member is 14 year old Chloe Kovelesky, who made a splash at the U.S. Women's Open by leading the field in driving distance. If she and fellow golf phenoms can get some welcome help from their states, it could go a long way toward future success in this great game.