FILIPINO-American swing coach David Heinen continues his personal talent-identification and development program in the Philippines as he sets up training camps in Davao City.
The former swing instructor at the renowned David Leadbetter Golf Academy first came to Cebu last year and has recently started his golf academy for kids at Apo Golf and Country Club, Davao City Golf Club and Rancho Palos Verdes.
Davao's Apo course has always been one of the biggest sources of talent for Philippine golf, both for the national team and the pro ranks.
And while some of the best young shotmakers usually come from families of club members, Heinen also hopes to find and develop talent from among the sons and daughters of caddies and umbrella girls who cannot afford to buy equipment but are innately talented.
“I also come from an impoverished family and we kind of grew up working for what we wanted to achieve,” said Heinen when interviewed by Spin.ph during the “Let’s Get It On!” sports talk show recently on 105.9 Balita FM Davao.
The 41-year old Heinen knows Filipinas have made it to the LPGA and top Filipinos have seen action in PGA Tour events but the owner of the Kaizen Golf Academy in the US believes more players from the Philippines should be playing regularly on the major tours.
“I am excited to be here in the Philippines and I want to see these kids one day play in the (PGA )Tour. You got very good potential here and with proper training and preparations, these kids are going to get better,” added Heinen, who also played against the likes of Tiger Woods in the US amateurs and some of the best golfers in the world as a professional.
Hainen, whose mother is Filipina, was accompanied to the radio program by former North Cotabato governor Manny Pinol, himself an avid golfer and sports promoter.
“I fully support the noble intentions of David and I can only wish we can gather all the institutional support he needs from benefactors whether private or government,” Pinol said.
As an amateur, Heinen remembers playing against Carito Villaroman and Ramon Brobio in the Callaway Junior World Championships in San Diego, California.
“Filipinos are very good players,” he said.
“I have spotted some good players already and I hope to see more,” said Heinen, mentioning homegrown talents Zeus Sara and Billy Tapucar along with Korean expat Miko Shin as among the prized finds in the junior golf tournaments.
Aside from making it to the top golf tours, Heinen says the Olympics is also a realistic target although the 2016 Games in Brazil may be too close.
“2016 may be fairly close so we are looking at 2020,” he said.