Wednesday Apr 18 2012
Helping to save golf with a wave of the future
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
Tsunami survivor starts Lincoln program
Golf instruction may be on the verge of a complete overhaul and it took a tragedy like the Sumatra Tsunami that hit Koh Phi Phi Island, Tailand to help bring it about. Will Robins, founder and chief instructor of Will Robins Golf Academy, was honeymooning on that island when the giant wave destroyed the hotel where he and his bride were staying and swept them out to sea. Miraculously, they both survived but the ordeal was one that changed their lives. “My wife and I were swept 500 yards away from where we were and we were still together,” Robins said of the ordeal that carried him and his wife out to sea. They survived 14 hours waiting to be rescued while clinging to debris to stay afloat. “We met a lot of people who lost their wives, lost their children, their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters.” Before the disaster, Robins was a promising young golf professional working his way up to the PGA Tour. He said he had been working extremely hard on his game trying to prove to himself, and others, that he was good enough to play professional golf. However, following their rescue and subsequent time spent in the hospital and in therapy, Robins later discovered he no longer had the capacity to be the golfer he’d always dreamed he’d be. He had broken his shoulder and torn all the tendons in his arm. He had also suffered a dislocated cervical vertebra, which was not discovered until later. “When I hit a golf ball, it was lightning through the back of my neck,” Robins said the first time he tried hitting some golf balls. “We did not know for a couple of years. (The vertebra) got jammed up so tight that literally every time I hit a golf, ball there was pain.” Robins said he tried to work through the pain but it was simply too severe to continue his quest to play on the tour. He called his sponsors and told them the sad news that his dream was over – but it wasn’t entirely. Thanks to his acquaintance with the general manager at Empire Ranch Golf Club, he came out to the club and began instructing. That led to the start of the Will Robins Academy of Golf and a philosophy on the game few if any have ever applied to it. “Our mission is to revolutionize golf instruction,” Robins said in between teaching lessons at Turkey Creek. “This game has given so much to me and I’ve learned so much in my life. I think (golf is) going the wrong way; I think it’s going drastically the wrong way.” Combining his passion for the game with the life’s lesson he learned during the tsunami, Robins began approaching the game from a different direction. Instead of teaching his clients the fundamental grip, correct backswing, etc., he began showing his pupils how to enjoy the game more. Consequently, that led to his student’s playing better and that led to even better scores. Robins found that applying simple management skills to the art of playing increased his client’s ability to get up and down more easily. He began taking his students out on the course as opposed to spending hours laboring on the driving range. He discovered by changing very little as to his client’s swing and concentrating more on how to get the ball in the hole did wonders to knock a half dozen strokes off their scores than did practice, practice, practice. “I could change your grip, change your elbow, change your posture and I’ve just pulled three large pins out of your golf swing and you’re about to fall to pieces,” Robins said. “We try to make it fun. We try to make it simple. I want to coach you; I want to move you along a track.” All of Robins’ instructors are PGA certified and quite capable of making all the fundamental adjustments his customers could want. But by playing out on the course with them he can pinpoint their weaknesses and unlock their strengths. His methods have worked so well he guarantees his students improvement or they get their money back. Will Robins Golf is four years old and he has yet to be asked for a refund. Robins said he has had clients who resist the type of change he tries to bring about, but when he shows them his assessment report on their play they can’t argue. Still, they think if they can be taught the perfect swing that will result in more “perfect” play. “Golf is not a game of perfect,” Robins said, citing a book by that same name read by many pros. “This game is fun. This game is easy; kids having fun with their parents. It’s a community thing, that’s what my vision is.” Robins is also associated with First Tee and dedicated to the life values given through that organization and the game of golf. His academy has also started a program of giving back to local schools a percentage of their fees. They are also involved in helping young golfers to not only find their potential, but how to turn that potential into a scholarship for college. Will Robins Golf has a complete program for his students as to how to find a school wanting their services. Will Robins Golf Academy can be found online at wrgolf.com, or call (916) 596-0001. For a limited time, those who e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org can get a free, 30 minute game assessment. Turkey Creek Golf Club is located just off Highway 193 about one mile east of Lincoln.