Robert Rock and Thomas Whitehouse with Kelsey McDonald at the driving range
The Lalla Meryem Cup was the best opportunity to write a story about how the Men’s Tour and our Tour interact. The men’s event, Trophee Hassan II, and our event are taking place same week and same place, 10 minutes away from each other, which is something unusual as our events are normally totally separate. And we had already two love stories between members from both tours, Argentina’s Estanislao Goya and Scottish Carly Booth, Richard Green from Australia and Marianne Skarpnord from Norway; we also have a brother and sister story with Emma and Rafael Cabrera Bello and Gregory and Melody Bourdy, performing on both tours…
The following story shows how top professional men help our future female stars and support women’s golf. It started like this:
It was about 6 pm on Day 1 at Lalla Meryem Cup and there was a man in front of scoring area who looked much alike multi-winner professional golfer Robert Rock. But, why should Robert Rock come to our event to watch our players? He’s got probably other more important things to do … (someone may think). But actually, he was Robert Rock and he was there to look after his pupils, who were amateurs Kelsey Macdonald (from Scotland) and Welsh Amy Boulden, current top amateurs with brilliant a future in golf.
After some research and we found out about Robert Rock Academy, that was created last year and is based in England (Lichfield). The aim of the Academy is to foster and develop talent in golf, from beginners and juniors through to professional level. Robert and Thomas Whitehouse (former European tour member) are currently helping many top amateurs already to become one day successful professionals as he is now and future multi-champions. He is their best example.
We asked Robert if he had some time to meet us at Golf de L’Ocean and he did, so we talked about the Academy and his pupils playing at Lalla Meryem Cup. And we realised his role on the Academy was not only to just put his name on it. It was more than that. Robert showed that he really cares about his pupils and that he tries as much as possible to transmit his knowledge and experience to them.
The Robert Rock Academy delivers expert advice and coaching on every aspect of the professional game, from the practical to the emotional/tactical (strategy and planning). Thomas Whitehouse takes also part of the Academy and he’s the short-game expert. Tom played on the European tour for many years and is experienced in talent development. Thomas said:
“The aim of the Academy is to help the players during the transition from being a good amateur player to tour professionals. There’s big difference from being a good amateur player, big fish in a small pond, to become in a little fish in a big pond. Robert and I have already been trough that”.
“We (Robert and I) have a lot of experience from the playing side of things”
“We work quite a lot on strategy and we try to incorporate the way you are going to hit it, what clubs you are going to be hitting and type of shots you are going to be playing. This week is going to be windy, which is good for Kelsey, as she is from Scotland. She knows how to hit the ball low.”
In addition, the academy also covers physical readiness, including strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, injury prevention and management. The Academy is using the most advanced technology applied to golf to help achieve the best performance from each individual.
The relation between the Academy and Kelsey and Amy started in Dubai: “We met in Dubai, we realized they were two very good players. The girls (Amy and Kelsey) were going to Qualifying School”, Thomas said.
Kelsey McDonald is one of the highest profile golfers at the Academy and finished her Sport Studies degree at Stirling University. She would like to turn pro when she thinks she is ready and she is currently playing on amateur events and pros (LETAS and LET events). Kelsey met Robert few months ago in Dubai, where Robert Rock normally prepares his season, through Amy Boulden’s sister, Kim Boulden, the teaching pro at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. She lives now in Scotland and normally practices there on regular basis but visits the Academy once a month. She keeps regular contact with Robert and the team sending the videos with the swing to be analyzed and to have feed –back.
Amy Boulden, Scottish Ladies Open champion, met Robert 3 years ago and he has been seeing her on various tournaments:
Robert Rock and Amy Boulden
“Amy is quite a good putter and she has good technique, but Kelsey ‘s putt is a bit more tricky… we are trying to get some consistency on her putting”- Thomas said when asking about their pupils performance.
“I met Amy in Dubai probably 3 years ago through somebody else. When Tom and I started the Academy last year, we started to think to find another ways where they could start to help different type of golfers. ”- Robert said
Tom did some research during the Lalla Meryem Cup and followed some top players during practice days and Day 1: “I went to watch some of the bigger names because only because I wanted to see what do they do to make them big names on this tour. I was quite impressed by how good Felicity’s Johnson short game was. She is very good with the wedges.”
When asked about women’s golf, Robert Rock added:
“It was great to come here Wednesday and see the girls practicing and see the course. Amy and Kelsey have both played a mini pro- tour event in England at The Belfry last Thursday and they played with me and other pros from the Academy. They both did really, really well. Amy finished top 20 out of 90 pros. It was a good test, a really difficult day, cold… and that showed me how good they are.”
“I think the more we watch it and the more Tom and me learn about, it’s going to be interesting for us to see where Amy and Kelsey are going to get their games to win regularly on this tour. We are going to study that closer”
We‘ve learnt many things during the time we spent with them and one thing is that we have to support each other, men’s and women’s golf, much more. We would like to thank Robert and Tom for taking this interview and spending their time with us. They are really keen to support women’s golf and we hope that in future women and men golfers could work more closely together for the good of this fantastic sport.
Find more information about the Robert Rock Academy here: http://www.robertrock.co.uk/