The coach behind Brandon Stone’s rise to fame
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.