There are no limits to where Maya Gaudin can go in her career, says coach Yasin Ali

She does stuff with a golf ball that is not normal, says the JA Golf Academy pro

By Nick Tarratt, Khaleej Times Guest Golf Writer

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Maya Gaudin (centre), flanked by father Stephen (left) and Coach Yasin Ali during the ARAMCO Team Series - Riyadh on the Ladies European Tour. - Supplied photo
Maya Gaudin (centre), flanked by father Stephen (left) and Coach Yasin Ali during the ARAMCO Team Series - Riyadh on the Ladies European Tour. - Supplied photo

Published: Tue 12 Dec 2023, 10:11 PM

Yasin Ali, the Head Golf Professional, JA Golf Academy, JA The Resort, Jebel Ali, said up-and-coming Abu Dhabi-based golfer Maya Gaudin, did not take long to impress him.

In fact, he was blown away on the very first day that he saw her play.

Speaking to Khaleej Times about his 13-year-old golf prodigy, Ali said: “I met Maya’s father, Stephen, in November, 2018 when he came over to say hi whilst I was on the putting green. He wanted me to be her coach.

“We arranged to meet Maya, who was then eight years-old and started with our first lesson the next weekend. This tiny little girl arrived with her golf clubs, that had a PING five wood, called a Moxie, that she could rip down the range. I was immediately impressed.

“More recently, as Maya has grown in stature and she was getting a lot stronger her handicap has tumbled down, we have been working on a few pointers,” he added

Ali commented on Maya’s invitation to play in the ARAMCO Team Series in Riyadh which he described as a pivotal moment in her career.

“It was a real game changer for Maya to play in Saudi at the end of October,” he said. “I was with her that week and caddied for her. There she played 36-holes with three Ladies European Tour professionals in a Team format. They were Pauline Roussin (Fr), Linnea Johansson (Swe) and Marta Sanz Barrio Marta (Spain).

“It was a huge learning experience. I told her to bring a small notebook along to write down her thoughts, feelings, emotions and everything she could. The lady pros were hugely impressive helping out Maya and giving so much and chatting with her throughout the two days.

“On the range on the Thursday before our first round, Maya found something while hitting balls on the range - she found the feel. But she did not quite take it through to the course the next couple of days the trust was not quite there,” he added.

When Maya represented the UAE in the Pan Arab Junior Championship again in Riyadh, a few week’s ago it was another big step as she was playing in a team environment again, this time with her friends.

“To win a Team gold medal and an Individual bronze was a huge honour for Maya,” said Ali.

“Going forward for Maya, she comes up twice a week from Abu Dhabi to Jebel Ali for lessons. At the moment, we are technically working on a couple of areas. She just needs to extend more and stop the cupping in the left wrist and commit more, especially with the driver.”

Ali said that credit must go to her father, Stephen for his upbeat and positive attitude in supporting Maya.

Asked about Maya’s potential, Ali commented: “There are no limits to where Maya can go. She does stuff with a golf ball that is not normal. She must continue to have fun around the game of golf as well as enjoying the grind of getting better.

“Maya is a very hard worker and at her age, it is one of her many strengths. We will wish Maya well and hope she stays healthy.

“I was not at Augusta for her ‘Drive Chip and Putt’ victory as it was Ramadan and as a practising Muslim I tend to slow down during that month. It is part of who I am and I take it very seriously,” he said.

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“Maya is a favourite of mine as I have followed her journey. To see her grow both physically and mentally through the game of golf has been a real privilege for me as a coach – at least the equivalent satisfaction and pride of winning some golf events in my career.

“She means a lot to me because she was my first junior client,’ concluded Ali


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