I will never forget what Dr. Greg Rose told us at a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Level 3 Fitness Seminar Q & A session about not being an amateur who tries to fix where the pain is but rather find the source of the pain above or below it and focus your attention there. I’ve used this valuable information going forward when I train and coach clients. An example of Dr. Greg’s point is when I screen golfers who often have lower back pain or tightness. They often have lower crossed syndrome (s-posture) with tight hip flexors and quadriceps. When I ask these golfers what they focus on when stretching to relieve their back pain it is often the posterior muscles specifically the hamstrings because that is what they think or feel helps. These golfers are usually busy professionals who sit long hours at their computer or travel a lot.
After I perform the TPI level 1 screens, I find they often have a difficult time flattening their back on the pelvic tilt screen, limited rotation & disassociation in pelvic rotation screen, and limited internal & external rotation in lower quarter rotation screen. We don’t know this information until we screen them since every golfer’s body is unique. Once we gather this information, we can now coach and train them on improving the mobility of their hips as well as flexibility of the anterior chain if they struggle with the screens above. I have learned from the leaders in golf coaching, bio-mechanics, and fitness training how important it is to try and find the source of the problem versus what the majority thinks may be the solution. We also need to learn and follow what the minority are doing (Tour Players) rather than the majority (average 20 handicap golfer) for best results. This is why I was sold on TPI because of all the research and data they have from the best players in the world like Adam Hadwin, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, & Jimmy Walker, who credit their TPI certified trainer & coach for their long term success and health.
I had a potential client that is now a long term client call me up and interview me to see if I was the best fit for coaching his golf game. He took golf lessons before and knew the basic fundamentals. He said he hit a plateau in his game and he wasn’t getting any better from taking lessons. He asked me what my philosophy was and how I could help him improve. I told him I really don’t teach lessons anymore especially on the driving range unless I am teaching foundation work and ball flight laws to a beginner or recreational level player that has never been taught before. Most of my coaching for learning new movement patterns is done inside my studio. I do the majority of my coaching on the course if possible. That is why my tagline for my golf academy is, “It is more than a lesson, it’s improvement by design”. I also told him I first try and gather as much information as I can on their entire body and swing by performing a TPI body and swing evaluation before giving any feedback or improvement plan. I then build a program that includes exercises based off their screens as well as drills to help improve movement patterns and swing characteristics. After hearing this response, he realized he was doing what many of his golfer friends were doing who were having the same problems.
After our first 90 minute session of me screening and explaining the body-swing connection, we came to the conclusion that his tight hips, weak core & glutes, as well as his s-posture were part of the problem / source of his early extension, loss of posture, sway, and slide swing characteristics. These swing characteristics were a major reason for his inconsistency of not squaring the club-face at impact and making solid contact. He had to rely on the correct timing of his arms, hands, and club at impact. He said a light bulb came on. It wasn’t just his swing technique that was keeping him from improving. It actually had very little to do with technique. He didn’t understand what golf performance training is and how important it is to be an integral part of his long term improvement plan.
I experienced the same thoughts when I first found out about Titleist Performance Institute and I decided to get screened by a TPI certified medical professional. I soon realized why I hit a plateau in college golf because of my tight lower legs and hips causing early extension and loss of posture swing characteristics. I also had an s-posture setup which makes early extension and loss of posture even worse at impact. It made my lower back sore as well. My miss was usually hooking the ball left especially when the nerves kicked in because my tempo sped up due to flipping the hands and closing the club-face to my path at impact. Since practicing what the top golfers in the world do (minority), which is basically working on engaging more core and flattening my lower back at set-up position, foam rolling, stretching at least 30 minutes a day, performing specific exercises and drills based on my screens and swing characteristics, I have improved my ball striking greatly. I have also improved my swing characteristics. I’ve learned from this experience that there are no quick fixes to reaching long term results. If you want to continue to improve in golf, you have to add a trainer & coach to your team that understands the body-swing connection and can help find the source. There are a ton of drills and exercise to help improve your swing characteristic so that is why I didn’t post any in this article. An experienced golf performance coach should be able to create a well rounded program that includes everything you need to improve your swing characteristics and perform your best where it matters most on the golf course. It takes a daily commitment and focus on a plan that is practiced by the best players in the world in order for you to play your best golf.