Student Profile: Andre Nel – The Sky is the Limit

Andre is an energetic, charismatic and boisterous 20-year-old aspiring young golf professional. Andre joined KeNako Academy at the beginning of 2014 ranked No. 89 in South Africa and as one of KeNako Academy’s first two School Leaver students. Within 18 months he had achieved a top 4 SA ranking and he was selected to represent South Africa.

Golf Digest ranked Andre the top amateur in South Africa for the year 2015.

Andre’s first major national victory was the Western Province Matchplay early in 2015. He has become a very consistent performer with many excellent results. In 2016 he has tied 4th in the Northern Amateur; T3 in the Southern Cape Open; won the Beaufort West Open; and came 5th in the EP Border. He is a driven young player, focused on making a name for himself in the golfing world.

He was ecstatic when he was chosen to represent South Africa at the All Africa Team Championships last year. He says that being part of the team that won the trophy is an accomplishment that he will never forget. He has come a long way since the first tournament he competed in as an 11-year-old, the Fish River Sun Hexangular.  After that tournament Andre was on a mission to win and he did not disappoint himself, returning the following year to achieve his goal by becoming the Champion, his first ‘big’ trophy.

Andre is a grounded young man.  When asked about his long term goals he stated the following, “I want to be a successful golf professional and a well-rounded individual in all aspects of life.” His focus at this stage is to become more developed in the game, perfect his technique and gain a position in the Eisenhower World Amateur Team. His handicap is currently +3. He keeps on top of his game via his weekly coaching sessions with KeNako professionals Roger Wessels and Carlo Kok. He is filled with gratitude towards them for the direction and development they have provided and believes that their insight and knowledge has helped to maximise his game performance. “They are the main reason for my success thus far.” He hits the gym bright and early every morning for about an hour and half and plays on the course as often as possible.

He is mentally tough and this provides him with the upper hand when competing in tournaments. He says that he is filled with fury, force and a fixed mind! He never falters, never stalls. His strong suit lies in his short game and he is often able to bail himself out of tricky situations. Andre’s tenacious attitude can be seen on the course. Andre says “You find a way to get the job done. It is not always the easiest to stay focused the whole time, but we have been taught how to switch on and off during tournaments.” This young individual does not only aspire to be a golf professional, but wants to be extraordinary in his field. He would like to follow in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy, whom he believes has great work ethic and he appreciates the legend’s respect towards others.

André has made astonishing progress and he has made a good impression on those that have been following his game. “He has really grown into a top player and he keeps improving every day,” says Heinrich Frylinck, Golf Director at Kingswood.

With the Masters Tournament being one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world, together with the historic sentiment attached to Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta is the golf course André would feel most privileged to play. His favourite local golf course is Fancourt’s Montagu Course – he enjoys the layout and feels that one is rewarded for quality shots made on this course.

Gonubie Golf Club in the Eastern Cape will always hold a special place in Andre’s heart because that is where it all started. Of all the clubs in his bag, the club that he enjoys the most is his lob wedge. He enjoys the fact that he can get creative and pull off shots that he might not have thought were possible without his lob wedge.

As mentioned in the introduction, Andre is on the School Leaver Program at KeNako Academy and 2016 is his third year at the academy. He was first exposed to KeNako Academy when he played in the World Junior Series hosted by KeNako in 2013. He was impressed with the facilities, the professionals, the program and prevailing spirit and decided to pursue his golf at KeNako. He feels that the students share a special bond and that KeNako has contributed towards the individual he is today. “Being part of this institution has helped me realise how much work goes into being successful. It has changed me as a person. I have become more open-minded, built endearing friendships and gained valuable insights which would not have been possible if I did not attend KeNako Academy. I would like to personally thank everyone at KeNako and the staff behind the scenes for helping me enjoy life and pursue what I love. The caring environment makes being away from home a lot easier.”

The sky is the limit for Andre Nel and the team at KeNako Academy looks forward to seeing Andre reaching his dream and succeeding as a playing professional. Andre is a very likeable and well-mannered young man.