Robert Rock Junior Golf Tour committed to fostering grassroots development of the game

The former DP World Tour golfer praises the Abu Dhabi Golf Club for their efforts in hosting the second Robert Rock Abu Dhabi Championship

By Robert Rock

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Robert Rock (right) with the RRJGT Events Organiser Natalie Haywood during their visit to Abu Dhabi Golf Club. - Supplied photo
Robert Rock (right) with the RRJGT Events Organiser Natalie Haywood during their visit to Abu Dhabi Golf Club. - Supplied photo

Published: Fri 5 Apr 2024, 1:56 PM

It all started with an enquiry from Kieren Pratt, Director of Golf at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club following one of my trips to Abu Dhabi where I hosted a Pro’s trip.

Kieren wanted to know more about the Robert Rock Junior Golf Tour and, needless to say, he liked what I had to say and was willing to host the first event last year.

Earlier this week, we returned for another successful edition of the Robert Rock Abu Dhabi Championship which fosters junior golf.

The whole Robert Rock Junior Golf Tour (RRJGT) began back in 2017 with just one event – just to see how it went.

Our Events Organiser Natalie Haywood is the driving force behind it all and she should take all the credit as it has exceeded all our expectations as it now has 26 events in a full Tour.

Our initiatives sit below the Faldo Series, who we work closely with. We are aimed more at beginners and junior development, from nine-hole events upwards - rather than just attracting elite juniors.

I expected other professionals with a similar love of golf to do their own thing with juniors – but it never really happened to any great extent. We suddenly realized there was a demand for these junior golf tournaments.

Entries are all managed through our website especially social media driving the business with support from the host golf club.

I still do some coaching. I really enjoyed it at the end of my playing career being at tournament sites and coaching – as long as I was playing. I had the time and with niggling injuries I could not practice for too long at any one time. However, I was never going to be a coach travelling the tour full time.

My son is now 16 years old and is a footballer. He just got accepted at Chesterfield FC Academy and has been involved there for four years. They got promoted recently to the Football League and have an excellent set-up.

My main job as a parent is to encourage him and hopefully, my background in sport has helped. I have never been a football fan. I am now.

I live in Rugeley, Stafford in the English Midlands. I take my son three times a week to football – much the same as parents do for golf. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly – and it is only now I realise how important parental support is for sons and daughters who wish to play sports, at whatever level. We have seen it here this week – with so many parents attending from all over the world as well as from all corners of the UAE.

Looking forward I want to keep my golf game ticking over - so when I do decide to play in some competitions I am ready.

I have just started doing online lessons which seem to be popular. That seems to be the future for some coaches and players – we will see how that goes.

I want to keep the RRJGT going – we are looking at adding more events overseas, similar to here in Abu Dhabi.

Finally, thank you to Kieren and all at Abu Dhabi Golf Club for hosting this week’s Robert Rock Abu Dhabi Championship. We have had a great time – as have the juniors and parents – and we look forward to coming back soon.

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