I’m a sucker for Junior Golf so when this story ambled across my desk a few minutes ago I knew I had to pass it on.
Golf is truly a worldwide game that presents many opportunities.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — For Matthew Moucharafieh, a sophomore at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy, the year 2009 has been unforgettable – and it’s only September. Moucharafieh, a native of Lebanon, has had the opportunity in only 9 short months to receive golf instruction from Hank Haney, instructor to the #1 player in the world, and play with PGA Tour golfer Retief Goosen.
In January of this year, Moucharafieh was invited to play in the Qatar Master’s Rolex Pro-Am at Doha Golf Club. He would soon realize his playing partner would be 2-time U.S. Open winner and 7-time PGA Tour winner, Retief Goosen.
“I was very excited to be invited to play in the Qatar Master’s and even more thrilled to have the opportunity to play with Retief. Most kids my age would probably be nervous but I was enthusiastic about the tournament and wanted to win,” Moucharafieh said.
Moucharafieh and Goosen, along with two other players, did exactly that. Playing a best ball format, Moucharafieh’s team finished at 16 under par to win by 3 strokes. The win included beating teams comprised of PGA Tour players Adam Scott, Ernie Els, and Paul Lawrie.
“It was an unbelievable experience. I played the round of my life including an eagle and birdie on the first 2 holes”, he said. “Retief and his caddie were impressed with my play. They gave me tips and helped me with yardage throughout the round. I don’t think Retief was expecting to take as many of my scores as we did.”
Winning the Qatar Master’s Rolex Pro-Am didn’t stop Moucharafieh’s streak of success. In April, he finished in 2nd place at the 9th Pan Arab Junior Championship at Yasmine Golf Club in Hammamet, Tunisia. Realizing his opportunities to improve as a junior golfer were limited in Lebanon, Moucharafieh
decided to apply for the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA) located in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
“Shortly after applying, I was notified I had been accepted. I knew immediately having the opportunity to work with Hank Haney would take my game to the next level.”
Over the summer, Moucharafieh played in multiple junior golf tournaments including a 1st place finish at the Junior Club Championship at the Golf Club of Lebanon in Beirut.
Moucharafieh arrived in mid-August at the Hank Haney IJGA and has been steadily working on his game. As part of the Hank Haney IJGA program, Moucharafieh spends half of his day on golf training and the other half taking academics courses at the Heritage Academy, also located in Hilton Head Island. In addition to golf and academics, he also receives instruction in mental training, course management, and fitness training.
“I have worked with Hank Haney several times since I arrived in Hilton Head. He is an incredible instructor and takes so much interest in each student’s game at the Hank Haney IJGA. An injury has set back my full swing progress but this has given me time to focus on my short game,” Moucharafieh said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Hank Haney IJGA, Blaik Shew, knows Moucharafieh will bounce back from the injury and be stronger than before.
“Matt has exceptional ability as a junior golfer. We are extremely pleased he chose the Hank Haney IJGA and confident Matt will be one of our premier players in the near future,” said Shew.
Moucharafieh plans to begin competition play in November as he is scheduled to participate in events on the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT). But for Moucharafieh, it’s not all about the competition – it’s about the experience and learning from the best.
“The experience of playing with Retief Goosen and the golf instruction from Hank Haney has certainly helped to shape and develop my game. I look forward to working with Hank over the course of the school year here at the Hank Haney IJGA.”
To follow Matt’s progress and obtain more information about the Hank Haney IJGA, you can visit www.ijga.com.