Here, in his own words are Robert Rock golf swing secrets:
“I used to be among the longest hitters on tour, but that’s no longer the case. That’s really been a bi-product of trying to make my iron swing better. Looking back, I didn’t have the technology back then for the kind of driving stats you get now with Trackman, but I assume my swing was a little more from the inside and a bit more of a level hit with a faster clubhead speed, because I was really swinging at the driver pretty much as fast as I could. Now my swing’s more about finding a constant rhythm to keep my iron shots going the same distance. So my driving has suffered a little bit.
2 Better from further back
Occasionally, I’m tempted to revert to the old swing just to hit one 300 for a change. But I know that after the drive, there’s still an iron shot, and to make a birdie, it’s got to go close. And I’m better from a little further out now than 30 yards further down the fairway – being an average wedge player, that doesn’t really work. Ideally you wouldn’t have that happen, but I’ll take where I am now. I’ve achieved things I probably didn’t think I would have, so I’ve no real regrets.
3 A little in reserve
We only get measured on two holes a week, but I think I’m around the 290 mark. We played a tournament a few weeks ago – in China I think – where it was really quite open and I felt like there was no need to be so careful. So I started hitting it a lot harder, and I got some out beyond 300. So I think I’ve got another 10-15 yards in there if I were to disregard accuracy for a moment.
4 My bad shot
My worst shot is generally through poor rhythm and not being comfortable with the shape of shot I’m trying to hit. With my general shape off the tee for the last few years a slight fade, I never used to like a strong left-to-right wind. It felt hard to control exactly how much it was going to fade, and if I got it wrong with a poor swing it wasn’t very pretty. I’ve now learned how to draw it against that wind, and that has actually found me a little more distance on regular shots too and neutralised my shape a little.
5 Hitting the sweetspot
The most important thing with the driver is catching it smack out of the middle of the clubface, because it’s hard to know what you’ve done wrong otherwise. With the way they’re built, and the gear effect you get from toe and heel hits, you can be misled as to what you’ve actually done with your swing path, clubface angle and so on. And to get the best transfer of energy you’ve got to be striking it perfectly.
6 When bad habits creep in
I bought a piece of kit recently to help with my driving, and hit a lot of balls analysing the difference between my driver and iron swings to try and get a little bit more out of the driver. I found out that I was hitting down on the driver a touch too much. You’d think you’d hit down on your irons more than your driver, but I wasn’t – I was hitting down on them both pretty much the same. I knew that wasn’t right and spent a month and a bit fixing that. I think it was because I’d done so much iron practice, and had also practised hitting driver off the deck a lot to change a few elements in my swing. So I’d got used to hitting down with the driver. That works well for hitting it straight, but it doesn’t optimise ball flight at all. You’ve got to be either level or slightly upwards on the driver hit to get it to fly the furthest. I think hitting down one degree is the tour average so I’ve tried to get myself towards that, and I think I’m on that now.
7 Shaping the flight
I’ve relied on a left-to-right shape for a good while now, and on occasions where the ideal flight would be slightly right-to-left shot I’ve generally opted to hit it straight and not take on left-hand flags. But when we played the Olympic Club last year for the US Open, that was an eye-opener. It was a really demanding course where you simply needed both shots. And if you didn’t have them you were really, really up against it. So I thought, if I’m going to play my best in Majors, I need those skills – the US Open is an amazing tournament, and I’d love to do well in one of those. So I’m trying to learn both, not to use all the time, but just on those occasions where you do need it. But my left-to-right shot is quite reliable and I don’t want to lose that.”