To celebrate the official opening of the first Els Performance Golf Academy, located on the outskirts of Hanoi, Vietnam, Ernie Els discusses the inspiration behind this exciting project and what sets it a class apart from other golf facilities in the region.
1. How did this project first take seed?
“Well, initially we were approached by Chairman Ha, the inspiration behind Ecopark, as he saw us [Ernie Els Design] as the perfect partner. He’s a brilliant man, a visionary, and I believe we share the same ideas about what we want to achieve with The Els Performance Golf Academy. Honestly, this feels like one of those ‘head and heart’ projects and I think that we’re creating something really meaningful and beneficial for the community here in Hanoi, which fits with the legacy ethos of the Ecopark development project. That’s important to us.”
2. How much time have you spent in Vietnam and what do you think of the country?
“Early in the process we met with Chairman Ha, his son Nghia Ha, and the rest of the team at Ecopark. That was actually my first ever trip to Vietnam. We inspected the site and also got out and about in Hanoi to experience the local culture, the wonderful food, and we received an incredibly warm welcome from everyone we met. It was a lot of fun. You can see the passion and enthusiasm that Chairman Ha really has for The Els Performance Golf Academy. That’s pretty infectious. It’s so exciting now that the doors are officially open and people can start enjoying what we’ve created here.”
3. Will there be more Els Performance Academies to come elsewhere in the world?
“Absolutely. Work is already well advanced on a second Els Performance Golf Academy at The Els Club Malaysia, which should open soon. To me, this is a really exciting concept and it’s going to have a lot of appeal to the average player who typically struggles to find decent practice facilities. What we’re offering here is the best of the best; a ‘Tour Pro for the Day’ type of experience where golfers can come and get great coaching and have access to some Tour standard swing technology and facilities, and also have some fun.”
4. What would be a satisfying outcome or achievement for you to see from the Hanoi EPGA in the long term?
“Already we’re experiencing exciting times here. The Vietnam National Golf Team has declared the EPGA its official home, which is great news. Our staff, led by Wayne Johnson (pictured below in red shirt), will be providing training and support for the Vietnam National Golf Team. We’ll also be engaged in developing the instructional skill-set for potential Vietnamese golf trainers, so it’s a win-win for golf in this region.”
“And overall, as I said, the plan is to give golfers of all standards everything they need under one roof and also for The Els Performance Golf Academy to generate a wider enthusiasm for the game and greater participation, not just in Vietnam but ultimately right across Asia. Ecopark stands for investment in the future, and we want to mirror that philosophy with our own activities. If we can get golf into schools and encourage youngsters to take up the game (pictured below); that’s the ultimate. Golf teaches excellent personal qualities such as discipline, sportsmanship, integrity and camaraderie, and we want the next generation to have these qualities in abundance. We want people here, we want them enjoying what Chairman Ha and the Ernie Els Design team have envisaged.”
5. Does this facility set new standards in the region and what specifically takes it to the next level?
“100 per cent. There’s nothing else like it in the region. As I said, The Els Performance Golf Academy is giving golfers an opportunity to work on their games in an inspiring environment, somewhere they can improve their golf and also have a bit of fun with friends and family. Here at Ecopark we have a great team of PGA qualified Professionals, led by PGA member Wayne Johnson. It’s great to have Wayne on board; I’ve known him for many years and he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to The Els Performance Golf Academy.”
6. What does Troon bring to the package with its contribution on the management side?
“You can’t under-estimate their contribution. We’ve partnered with Troon many times on other projects within the Ernie Els Design portfolio; they very clearly understand our brand and our goals and what exactly is required in order to achieve those goals. I know a lot of the guys personally and have complete faith in everything they do, so obviously we’re delighted to have them on board again here in Hanoi.”
7. How does the quality of this facility compare to the practice facilities you had access to when you were a young player in South Africa?
“I was actually pretty fortunate in that department, but still, it’s nothing compared to what we’re offering now at The Els Performance Golf Academy. But you have to say part of that is simply down to the way the game has moved on technology-wise in the last 10-15 years. Our philosophy with the whole Els Performance Golf Academy program is to make the most of what’s available to us and utilise the very latest, cutting-edge systems to help people understand their games and get better. It’s all about delivering the best possible experience for all of our visitors.”
For more information on The Els Performance Golf Academy, please contact the Ernie Els Design offices in Florida +1 561-625-8676 or visit the official website: http://elsperformancegolfacademy.com.