Student Profile: Jade Buitendag

Jade is a hard-working, dedicated 21-year-old student, who joined KeNako in January 2014. Jade matriculated at the end 2013. His passion for the game of golf is evident as his face lights up when he reminisces about how his passion in life found him. Jade started playing golf at the age of 10, “I don’t know how I got into golf. I must have been about 10 years old, struck with boredom, we went into my mate’s garage, looking for something to do. We noticed some clubs and started hitting some balls around the yard. I was absolutely taken aback about how much I enjoyed the challenge of hitting the ball and seeing where it ended up.” But as much as golf is his passion, another treasure close to his heart is his family. They are his support base and he is filled with love and gratitude towards them. In Jade’s words “they have given me one of the greatest opportunities I could have asked for, and for that I’m really thankful”.

The first tournament Jade competed in was the Queenstown Junior Championships. He was enthralled and enthusiastic and says, “I played for the enjoyment. I just wanted to compete. I don’t think I played too well, if I am not mistaken, I played a 99.” After a decade of perseverance, this unwavering athlete has found his calling in life. His handicap is currently +2, and he is set on bringing his stroke average down below 70.5.
After joining KeNako Academy Jade made some excellent progress. He rose from No.53 in South Africa to the top 4 and within 18 months he represented the South Africa men’s team. Jade was selected to play for South Africa at the All Africa Team Championships and in July 2015 he toured the UK with the SA team. As a consequence of his status and success Jade received a sponsor’s invite to the BMW SA Open earlier this year. It is a memorable moment that he will never forget. “I would like to play on the Sunshine Tour, gain some experience and hopefully go on the European Tour from there”. He is driven towards gaining more exposure to international tournaments and he plans on going to Qualifying School in the not too distant future. His long term goal is to make golf his profession.
Jade competed in and won the KeNako SA World Juniors in 2012, an official World Junior Golf Series (WJGS) event. At the time this was Jade’s biggest accomplishment. It was that tournament that saw Jade exposed to the KeNako Academy and its professional team for the first time, as well as the program being offered at the academy. When Jade later heard KeNako’s name being mentioned at a WJGS tournament in Poland (he had received a special invite due to his victory in South Africa), he made his decision – he was going to join KeNako Academy. It is a decision that he is very happy that he made.

Jade enjoys the psychological aspects of the game and believes that nerves are a good thing, making one aware of their surroundings. In his own words, “I do enjoy competing and playing against the best players in the country, to see where I stand and how I perform amongst my peers and in the rankings. When I do start feeling stressed, the main thing I do is focus on my pre-shot routine.” Jade also enjoys the physical fitness that is encompassed in the game of golf and at KeNako Academy. He follows a fitness routine and trains with KeNako’s Sports Science trainer and fitness expert Jan-Harm Venter four times a week. He enjoys how he is motivated, kept on track and believes the fitness program is beneficial for his golf but also for life on a broad basis.

To stay on top of his golfing game, Jade spends at least 10 hours a week hitting golf balls on the Driving Range. He focuses similarly on his putting and short game skills for approximately 10 hours a week and generally plays 18 holes at least once on weekdays and 9 holes two to three times on the other weekdays. Weekends are mostly competitions. He values the expertise of KeNako’s golf coaches, “I love Roger’s approach to our lessons. He understands the golf swing impeccably, I feel his course management is great and his mental skill on the course is invaluable. Carlo gives us a lot of drills, which I feel are very constructive, and helps me get into the position I am working on”.
Jade believes that focus and preparation are two of the keys to success. He enjoys his wedge play because of the versatility it lends, from the trajectory to the spin you can put on the shot. He believes his competitive edge lies in his excellent course management skills and he feels that one of his strong points is his iron play. “Amen Corner” at Augusta National is an inspiration. Many a professional player including the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have had to deal with some inimical shots at The Masters. To Jade the arduousness and the prestige of Augusta makes it a must on his bucket-list of courses to play one day.

With respect to players, Jade believes that one of the reasons that Tiger Woods was so successful was because of his confidence. He looks up to Tiger Wood’s approach, “I loved that he thought he was the best and when people walked on the tee box, he thought they were playing for second best. Some might think its arrogance, but you have to be tough and have perseverance to play this game.”
He is fired with ambition and vision for his life. Finding the game of golf might have been a stroke of luck, but the determination in this young man’s heart will surely see him living his dream on the fairways of the world!