The past few days, I was in Phoenix, Arizona, attending the TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Level 2 Golf Mechanics Seminar. TPI co-founder, Dave Phillips, and Mark Blackburn, a top 100 instructor, hosted the golf mechanics seminar. TPI is the world leader in education concerning golf instruction. Titleist Performance Institute has certified instructors in 58 countries around the world.
TPI takes a team approach to help golfers reach their golf goals, including a golf instructor, fitness instructor and medical professional on the team. The TPI golf instructor leads the team, communicating the student’s golf goals and golf swing changes. A TPI golf instructor has the training to perform a golf-specific physical evaluation on the student. This evaluation is to determine physical limitations in different parts of the body; the evaluation is not concerned with the students overall strength or fitness. The concern of the physical evaluation is determining if the student possesses a functional body that can produce a proper golf swing. The golf professional will then communicate to the student’s team to help achieve the student golf goals. The fitness instructor and the medical professional may do a more extensive physical evaluation on student.
The human body has individual parts that are connected but have different roles. Some body parts need to be stable while other parts require mobility. The body works in opposites. For example, from the foot to the neck, the foot is stable; the ankle is mobile; the knee is stable; the hip is mobile; and the back is stable. If the ankle has a limited range of motion/mobility, the knee is at risk because the knee has to be become mobile for the body to function. The knee is not designed to have mobility.
In many instances, lower back troubles are caused by limitations of a different part of the body. Someone who has a hip replacement is a prime example. The left hip that was replaced feels wonderful, but the left knee and the lower back start hurting. The new hip does not have the desired range of motion. The limited mobility places the other body parts, below and above, in a compromised position when doing simple daily tasks.
The same scenario is true for golfers that have limitations in the hips. The golf swing consists of a rotary motion, and the hips play a big role in creating a rotary motion. The hips should rotate about 45 degrees in a golf swing. The average individual has 30 degrees of rotation in the hips. A golfer with hip limitations will have a limited backswing rotation, but will complete a full back swing by rotating the lower back into a compromising position.
A tennis player who has knee troubleis another example that the source of the problem may not be the actual body part that is physically hurting. A tennis player uses the mobility in the ankle hundreds of times in a match to move around the court effectively. If the tennis player’s ankle has a mobility issues, the knee cannot be stable. A tennis player’s knee that is forced to become mobile will lead to an injury.
A golf-specific physical screen done by a TPI professional will determine the limitations in the body. The next step would be to create a functional body based on the physical screen that will help prevent injuries. Each student has different goals, and it is my job as a PGA Golf Professional to help each student reach their golf goals. I can help them with their swing, but if I notice any limitation, I will conduct a golf-specific physical evaluation. I instruct the student on set-up and/or swing corrections even if they are limited, unless the student has pain prior to the lesson. If deficiencies are found in the physical screen, I will recommend the student to his or her fitness or medical professional; they will start working with the student to correct the deficiencies. This will give the student the physical capability to work on the swing or set-up correction, and more importantly, to improve their quality of life. If a student has shoulder limitations, it is hard for them to reach above their head. This limitation can damage the ability to complete their golf goals, but can also make daily tasks difficult.
During the TPI seminar in Phoenix, I become more educated about the golf swing. I also reconnected with my understanding about how important a functional body is on the golf course and in daily life. A team concept will help a student improve immediately. The idea that a golfer has to get worse before he or she gets better is not true. However, all golfers need to understand that there is more to improving at golf than receiving a few swing tips from the local golf professional.
To become part of a team concept, go see a local TPI certified PGA Professional. All TPI certified instructors are listed in the Titliest Performance Institute website, www.mytpi.com. Also, go to this website for tools to connect the body and the golf swing.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”