European Tour star heads instructional ‘dream team’ at widely acclaimed Bluffs Ho Tram Strip
Two-time European Tour winner and all-round good guy Robert Rock is branching out his instructional business and has recently opened the Robert Rock Golf Academy at The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, one of the world’s most acclaimed new courses, in Vietnam.
Rock’s academy officially opened last month with the commencement of a ten-week junior golf program led by Australian Patrick Kelly, the course’s head professional and a former winner at the highest level on US college system.
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 - who famously beat Tiger Woods down the stretch in Dubai a few years ago - describes himself as a “swing nerd”. 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 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 this summer.
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, Rock’s academy 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.”
Vietnam is being touted as one of the world’s new golf markets, as tourism starts to grow and accessibility to golf in Asia continues to rise.
In January, GOLF Magazine (USA) hailed The Bluffs one of the best courses to open in 2014. In December it hosts the inaugural Ho Tram Open, the most lucrative, single-sanctioned event ($1.5 million) on the year’s Asian Tour calendar.