x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

From UAE schools to US college golf

Butch Harmon, the golfing guru to Tiger Woods and a host of other professionals, is on the lookout for raw talent in the country's schools which he believes he can nurture and produce future kings and queens of the fairways.

Butch Harmon, the golfing guru to Tiger Woods and a host of other professionals, is on the lookout for raw talent in the country's schools which he believes he can nurture and produce future kings and queens of the fairways. Harmon is to use his base at Dubai Sports City to launch a junior development programme designed to convert enthusiastic schoolchildren into members of collegiate teams in his native United States.

"One of my dreams for the school here in Dubai is to see students from my junior programme play college golf in the USA and have an opportunity to compete at a professional level," said Harmon, whose son Claude runs the teaching academy at the Els Club. There are three age groups at the new school - five to 11 years, 12 to 15 and 16 to 18 - and the intention is to put the emphasis on enjoyment. "Junior development is a determining factor in a person's golf game," says Claude Harmon. "Players who start at a young age can develop the necessary core strengths needed to combat shortcomings and train the body to deliver the right results.

"Throughout my teaching history, it is evident that a large number of juniors understand the game right away and pick up the correct movements and techniques much faster than mature golfers. That is an initial sign of real potential," the junior Harmon adds. The younger participants in the primary school class focus on building rotary power and encouraging a "fun and fast" approach to learning. Coaches try to keep it entertaining by teaching basic fundamentals using only functional training techniques to develop speed in their movements.

For the mid development programme (12-15 age group), the teaching philosophy centres around the enhancement of strong technical skills. Body conditioning is a key element in the programme, whereby students are taught the value of core strength and greater flexibility. Students in the top age group are required to have a recognised handicap, nine or lower for boys and 18 or lower for girls. "Competing with power, feel and vision" is the message delivered in that late development phase.

The three courses are all over a six-week period. The youngest category is open to all children in the age group and costs Dh625. Entry to the intermediate class (Dh900) is subject to an assessment at the Els Club, while the senior class (Dh1125) is subject to handicap restrictions of nine and 18. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae