Jul. 13, 2015
Robert Rock conducts a lesson
HO TRAM, Vietnam — Robert Rock, a two-time European Tour winner with one of the most enviable swings in professional golf, has launched The Robert Rock Golf Academy at The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, one of the world’s most acclaimed new courses.
Rock’s academy officially opened last month with the commencement of a 10-week junior golf program led by Australian Patrick Kelly, the course's head professional and a former winner at the highest level of US collegiate golf.
Kelly is shaping the academy with input from Rock and Luke Ringrose, mentor of some of the world's best players and an instructor who prides himself on his ability to make “anyone who’s coachable a great ball striker.”
"It’s my dream team,” said Ben Styles, The Bluffs’ general manager. “In Robert, Patrick and Luke, we’ve got the makings of something very special here. With these guys leading the way, I firmly believe The Bluffs is poised to make the next generation of Vietnamese golfers a force to be reckoned with.”
Rock, an Englishman who describes himself as a “swing nerd,” became a world-class player after spending years elevating other people’s games.
In addition to competing on one of golf’s biggest circuits, he has helped boost the careers of tour pros such as Charley Hull and Oliver Wilson, who claimed the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews last October after receiving some sage pointers from Rock a month prior.
Rock made a name for himself as a player in 2012 when he outplayed Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in the final round to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. He finished third at the Lyoness Open in Austria last month.
Ringrose is based in London and currently working with Felipe Aguilar and Fabrizio Zanotti, both of whom have at least one European Tour victory.
To facilitate the learning process, The Robert Rock Golf Academy at The Bluffs features a spacious, open-air room with impact bags, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and an array of monitors -- tools Kelly uses to great effect.
“The lab, as we call it, really allows us to illustrate the correct positions and angles a golfer needs to understand to form a dependable swing,” said Kelly. “If you’ve got that understanding, you’re on your way, because many of the same principles apply to other facets of the game, such as chipping and putting.”
Lessons at the academy -- the third Robert Rock Golf Academy in the world and the first in Asia -- are available to anyone. But the primary goal for the foursome behind it is to make golf accessible for kids, and ultimately produce champions on the professional level.
“No one knows how good they can be at something unless they get the opportunity,” said Styles. “We fully support junior golf. We want youngsters to come and try golf, like we all got to when we were young.”
Designed by legendary golfer Greg Norman amid towering sand dunes two hours northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, The Bluffs has received high praise since debuting in October 2014.
In January, GOLF Magazine USA hailed it one of the best courses to open last year. In May, HK Golfer wrote that “geography aside, the course could host the U.S. Open and earn plenty of plaudits. It’s that good.”
The Bluffs will receive another significant measure of coverage Dec. 3-6, when it hosts the inaugural Ho Tram Open, the most lucrative, single-sanctioned event (US $1.5 million) on this year’s Asian Tour calendar.