Written by
Joy Chakravarty, LIV Golf Correspondent
Mar 02 2024
- 4 MIN
Kevin Na gives back junior clinic

Iron Heads GC made a bright start inside the ropes at LIV Golf Jeddah on Friday, but equally important for Kevin Na’s team is the impact they are making outside the ropes.

Community outreach programs and efforts to grow the game are an integral part of the team ethos, and it was on display once again when Na, alongside 4Aces’ Harold Varner III, held a clinic for members of the Saudi development team.

Na, a Golf Saudi brand ambassador, enthusiastically interacted with the kids – comprising of eight players from various junior age groups – and held them spellbound with his lucid explanations of the complexities of the golf swing and gave them practical tips that resulted in immediate improvements to their game.

Jude Al Thagafi, a 14-year-old who started playing golf seven months ago in Saudi capital Riyadh, was one of the participants and she became an instant fan of Na.

Among the many interesting and deep swing-related questions the youngsters asked was Jude’s about not being able to realize the position of her clubface at the top of her backswing.

The 40-year-old five-time champion on the PGA Tour gave her two solutions – shadow-practice with a sawed-off club no longer than a foot, which would help her ascertain the position, or, get a practice club with a putter grip which would lock her position at the top.

“It was so good to hear from pros like Kevin who has achieved so much in the game. It’s nice to hear about all the different ways people swing a golf club, because everyone has their own way. Sometimes they give you a tip and it clicks with you. I think Kevin gave that to me,” said Jude.

“I personally struggle with my club face position no matter how much I try to think about it. It’s difficult for me to know whether it’s closed or open when it’s sitting right at the top. What Kevin said was such a good tip and I’m going to use it in my next practice. I am sure it will help me.”

Na, a father of three kids who is trying to get them to love golf as much as he does, loves working with children and “sell” them the many positive aspects of the sport.

“Many years ago, I remember going to a clinic as a kid with my dad that had John Daly and Tiger Woods. I wasn’t a part of it, I just watched it. And I thought it was really cool and those 45 minutes taught me so much. For me to grow up, become a pro golfer, and to be able to do the same thing for these youngsters, is pretty cool and I cherish such opportunities,” said Na.

“It’s even more special when kids like golf… it’s easy to talk to them. If they talked about gaming, I would be all at sea. But, it seems like these kids are interested in getting better and learning. It’s not an easy sport and I am very happy to help anyone who wants to do that.”

“I want my kids to play golf and I want other kids in other countries to play golf. It’s a bit of a selfish thinking as well, because the more golfers we get, the better it is for the game. Kids around the world are into their iPads and playing video games and we need them to come out and play a sport. Golf is such a great sport, it takes hand-eye coordination, it teaches you respect for others, and it teaches you to respect the rules. It’s an incredible game.”

Na said that he is enjoying the global schedule of LIV Golf, and the fact that it gives him more time to do stuff like this that would make a difference.

“That’s one thing that we have decided to do as Iron Heads. We are trying to reach out to the local communities and get the kids involved,” added Na. “We have been given an incredible opportunity by LIV Golf, and it’s time we created these kind of opportunities for the next generation.”

Abeer Al Johani, Director, Golf Saudi, lauded Na and Varner for taking time out from their busy schedules and spending quality time with the young golfers.

“We’re here today to give our national team members a taste of what golf is like at the highest level. To have this kind of interaction with professionals like Kevin and Harold is an amazing opportunity for them,” said Al Johani.

“This will give them a great idea of what these pros actually do outside the golf course…how they become so good. It’s a privilege for the kids to have this kind of direct interaction.”

Jens Beck, General Manager of Iron Heads, said all members of his team were completely invested in the idea of giving back to society.

“It’s very important for the Iron Heads to connect with the local communities and to see how we can really help grow the game. The game is so mature in many parts of the world that we go to, but here, in Saudi, it’s so new. And it’s exciting to see kids come out and embrace such opportunities. There were twice as many kids this year than there were last year. And that’s really cool,” Jens said.

“We try to connect with each community wherever we go. So, if we’re playing in Miami, we try to connect with the Miami community like the First Tee. We try to bring the kids to the golf course and teach them about golf and all the good things about our sport, like etiquette, like social responsibility, and friendship.

“I think it’s very important for these guys to remind the next generation coming up that it’s more than just playing the game. And someone like Kevin always tries to make it fun for the kids.”

Iron Heads travel to Hong Kong for next week’s LIV event and are planning a similar program with young golfers there.