To celebrate the opening of the Leadbetter Golf Academy Dubai at JA The Resort Golf Course Dubai, we got to speak to the one and only David Leadbetter on the night of the grand opening to find out about the new academy and how it aims to stand out from the rest. In addition, the coaching expert also provided us with a putting drill involving a tee gate as resistance which he uses with the stars he coaches, including Dubai resident Rafa Cabrera Bello, to improve their technique and square face contact.
WWG: Why did you want to open the first Leadbetter Golf Academy in the Middle East?
David Leadbetter: Dubai’s been a go-to area for golf for quite a while now. My friend and student Rafa Cabrera Bello is a Brand Ambassador for JA The Resort Golf Course so it seemed natural for us to associate our brand here. This is the 40th Academy we’ve opened around the world and we will be focusing a lot on juniors here. Our Leadbetter Kids programme is for children from the age of four and will help with their hand-eye coordination and technique whilst immersing them in a sport that lends itself so well to life. They’re the future of the game so it’s exciting to nurture them on their golfing journey.
WWG: Why will people be attracted to visit your Academy at JA The Resort Golf Course?
DL: It’s a really nice facility that’s out of the town a little bit with two fabulous hotels. We are going to be adding some golf simulators here with a Korean company called GolfZon so even during the summer it will be a popular spot to improve your game when it’s too hot outside. In Korea it’s more popular to play indoors than out so we can see that being a hit here as well.
WWG: Have you had a chance to play the course since three of the holes have been redesigned?
DL: Unless you’ve played JA The Resort Golf Course before, you wouldn’t realise there have been any changes made because they look so natural. They’re also building a big hotel here so the course had to be reconfigured but they’ve done a marvellous job which is great for the practice area too as they’ve lengthened the range. Although it appears to be a small nine-hole golf course, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic at all and has a variety of holes that require different shots to really test your golfing ability. I love the changes and enjoy the amount of character this original UAE golf course has.
WWG: What will set your academy apart from the others in the region?
DL: I’ve been in this game a long time! Not only have I taught some great players and had seven World No.1s, but I’ve also taught some of the world’s top teachers. If you look around the world they’ve been through our system. I know what it takes to make any player reach their potential. Our academy promotes all the fundamentals in a simple way so every player can leave here after a session with more skill, confidence and knowledge. We have a new teaching pro here at JA The Resort Golf Course called Yasin Ali who was a high quality Tour player and can help improve the most elite players. In our sessions, we give our student a plan so when they leave here they know what to work on to get better. We try and transmit a certain technique very simply so it’s easy for a student to take it on board and understand where they are going wrong.