Hayden Garcia is an enthusiastic sportsman. A cricket lover at heart, he grew up in Cape Town where he attended primary school. He remembers ‘messing around’, as he put it, on the golf course with his father for fun during his early years. When he was 11 years old he started playing golf with the South African Golf Development Board. His coach recognised his natural talent and abilities and advised him to develop his skills and pursue golf as a career.

When he met the late Mr Rodney Hess, who was in effect his first manager, Hayden started to take the game more seriously. Mr Hess taught him how to play the game, introduced him to coaches and informed him about KeNako Academy. At the age of 14 he decided to drop all other sports, including his two other passions which were cricket and hockey, to focus on his golf. He joined KeNako Academy in 2013 and he has now been at KeNako for 4 years. Hayden completed his Cambridge International Education AS Level (matric) at Rundle College in 2015 and he decided to continue with a couple of subjects this year whilst continuing with his golf programme at the academy. He is absolutely passionate about golf and all aspects of the game, but he also enjoys watching movies and eating pizza. Hayden has a small tight-knit group of friends.

The first big tournament that he competed in was the Triangular in 2012, when he played for the Western Province team against South Cape and Boland. In that tournament he was drawn to play against Aidan Boon, another KeNako Academy student, and the boys halved their match. That is a fond memory.

Hayden is a member of the South African amateur golf squad and he has made every Western Province team for 9 consecutive years. 2 Years ago Hayden was in the Western Cape U19 IPT Team that won the tournament. He was MVP at that tournament. In Grade 8 he represented Western Cape in India and he remembers the team coming 4th or 5th. Another memorable tournament Hayden played in was the Audi World Amateurs in Reunion Island 2 in 2014, in which he came 4th. His ultimate goal is to play professional golf in America or Europe. Hayden will be traveling to America in July 2017, to attend Tyler Junior College in Texas. His short-term goal is to make the Tyler Golf Team and play in the Division 1 golf in America.

He keeps focus by sticking to his routine and believes his competitive advantage lies in his calm demeanour. He is currently a +2 handicap. Hayden has enjoyed the physical programme since joining KeNako Academy and his body has changed substantially since those early years.

On his bucket list is Augusta National golf course. His favourite local course is George Golf Club. He believes it is a tough course to play, tight and narrow with many trees and it is always in great condition. He enjoys playing with his 3 wood, and refers to it as his “go to club”. It also has sentimental value to him because it was given to him by Mr Hess.

Hayden shared the following thoughts about his time at KeNako. “My overall game has improved a great deal, as well as my mental toughness. Roger and Carlo are both exceptional at what they do. I have never had coaches like them before. Jan-Harm is also really good with our fitness and physical conditioning and he assisted me with my shoulder injury and rehabilitation. Mariette, our psychologist, has helped me to overcome some mental barriers on and off the course. The programme has improved my golf tremendously. I enjoy being in the hostel. There is always a good vibe and the environment has allowed me to grow in confidence and helped me come out of my shell.”

He is inspired by South African professional golfer Ernie Els, because of the way he shows himself on the golf course. He has had the privilege of meeting his golf hero and experienced him to be a nice and down to earth individual.

Well done on your achievements and your positive contribution to KeNako Academy Hayden. We look forward to seeing you succeeding in the years to come!

KeNako, Hayden Garcia, Student Profile.