The coach be­hind Bran­don Stone’s rise to fame

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

Leeuwen, who coached the SA Protea and Ju­nior teams in 2010, and again be­tween 2013 and 2015. “Our team – com­pris­ing Jo­han Steyn (head of the golf pro­gramme), Gavin Groves (strength and con­di­tion­ing), Kevin Stone ( course man­age­ment), Theo Bezuiden­hout ( men­tal) and elite coaches Emile Stein­mann and Bradley Nien­aber – all con­trib­ute so I can im­ple­ment my teach­ing phi­los­o­phy.”

It was while work­ing for Kevin Stone in the pro shop at Rusten­burg Golf Club that Van Leeuwen went into teach­ing. He then fol­lowed Stone to Pre­to­ria when he got the job as head pro at Cen­tu­rion Coun­try Club. There he com­pleted his three- year PGA ap­pren­tice­ship in 2004 be­fore be­com­ing the head teach­ing pro.

“Teach­ing kind of fell in my lap,” says Van Leeuwen, who played for the North West Un­der-18 golf team be­fore a cricket ball in­jury caused him to lose 90 per­cent of the vi­sion in his left eye. “I read in­struc­tion books by Jack Nicklaus and Ben Ho­gan grow­ing up, and when no one else wanted to teach ( at Cen­tu­rion) that suited me per­fectly.”

At the be­gin­ning of this year Van Leeuwen told the SA Golf As­so­ci­a­tion that he could no longer coach the na­tional teams due to time con­straints. He didn’t have the ca­pac­ity to help the ‘ av­er­age’ golfer – a role he re­alised he missed per­form­ing. “The play­ers at the Tuk­sGolf Academy have all bought in to a long-term plan for their game, but I also get tremen­dous sat­is­fac­tion in help­ing an 18-hand­i­cap im­prove quickly,” he ad­mits. “Now any­one can call to book a les­son again, which is how I want it.”

With Tuk­sGolf Academy ‘gold-spon­sored’ ath­letes Stone and Lom­bard mak­ing big strides on the Euro­pean and Sun­shine Tours re­spec­tively, which young­ster is Van Leeuwen most ex­cited about for the fu­ture? “James du Preez from Pre­to­ria Coun­try Club,” he says with­out hes­i­ta­tion. “He has had in­jury trou­bles the last cou­ple of years, but a 20-year-old at 6-foot-8 in height who can y a driver over 300 me­tres is a thrilling prospect. I pre­dict big things for him in the next ve years.

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