Month: TPI -- A Way To Get Healthy, Fit and Play Better Golf
Doug Perron, a personal trainer at the
Barrington Fitness Studio in Barrington, R.I., holds several
certifications from the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI).
Dan Rothfeld Photography
R.I. -- There's no denying the fact that the physique of golfers
has changed dramatically over the last several years. A healthy
lifestyle, along with a golf-specific fitness regimen, leads
to a more enjoyable life and a better golf game.
That's a fact. Look no further
than all the flat-bellies walking the fairways of the PGA
Tour these days. Most of the players look athletic, strong
and hit the ball a country mile.
Many of those players that you
see have used the workings of the Titleist Performance Institute
(TPI) to transform their bodies in an effort to get the most
out of their game.
Lucky for all of us casual golfers,
TPI isn't limited to the pros.
Meet Doug Perron, President and
Principal Trainer at the Barrington Fitness Studio in Barrington,
R.I., home of eight-time PGA Tour champion Brad Faxon, who
happens to be one of Perron's clients.
Perron, a personal trainer for
18 years, has countless impressive certifications that spread
across the walls of the Barrington Fitness Studio. Many of
them are for TPI, which Faxon led Perron to discover in 2005.
Since then, Perron has been hooked.
"Prior to TPI, I had
worked with some amateur golfers and your average country
club weekend warriors," Perron said. "But, it was
really Brad Faxon who exposed me to TPI back in 2005. He took
me out to Oceanside, Calif., to the TPI facility and it was
love at first sight, as they say. Another way to put it is
-- I drank the Kool-Aid right away, because I saw the program
they designed and what they were offering. My first exposure
to TPI, I was convinced that it was a superior model to testing
and training the athletic golfer."
A TOP PLAYER
AND TOP CLIENT
Faxon, a former two-time member
of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, has always been in great physical
shape. However, he admits that his conditioning happened almost
"I was always a kid
that played a lot of different sports growing up," Faxon
said. "Like many players on Tour, you play a lot of sports
growing up, not realizing it's for your well being. It was
just fun. You weren't necessarily doing it to be in good shape.
Plus, I always liked to workout. I didn't initially do it
to be a better golfer."
Once Faxon visited the TPI facility
in Oceanside, Calif., and met cofounders Dr. Greg Rose and
Dave Phillips, he became a huge fan.
"It's my favorite place
to go," Faxon said of TPI. "You feel rejuvenated
and it almost feels like you get fit quick and on the right
track. When I think about what changed the approach to fitness
for golfers, two things stand out. Having seen David Duval
go from overweight to fit and buff and No. 1 in world right
as Tiger came out, I think those two things in the later '90s
really sped up the process."
Perron's knowledge of TPI has worked
wonders for Faxon, who estimates he trains with Perron 3-4
times per week when he's home in the Ocean State.
"What's great about
Doug is he's a conscientious trainer," Faxon said. "I
hurt myself prior to working with Doug with another trainer.
I wouldn't say it was a career-wrecker, but I haven't been
the same since I tore my ACL. When I met Doug, I thought things
were a little slower than I wanted, but Doug's philosophy
with me was to start slow and stay steady. Now I'm in really
good shape and very balanced. We work out 3-4 days a week
when I'm home and I have programs for on the road to train.
When I have problems, I can call him and I know he's been
through all the schools and TPI certifications, so that's
peace of mind for me."
If you're serious about improving
your game, Faxon explained, it takes a big commitment.
"There's a couple of
things," he said. "I'm a big believer that fitness
is great for overall health. It'll help you in whatever you
do, and there's no doubt it will improve your quality of life.
You feel good about yourself. And if you're trying to become
a better golfer -- and there's a lot of different avenues
to go down -- but your physical shape is one of the things
to knock off and fix right away. If you're 30-40 lbs. overweight,
address that. You'll be better off for it and so will your
"With that said, I don't think
that you can completely substitute fitness for time on the
practice tee or short game area. To be better you have to
be on the course too. Chip and putt. Work on your swing. It's
not just fitness. You need to be careful of that. Dedicate
time to the fitness aspect, but don't overdo it. Work with
a PGA Professional too. Play some tournament golf. All those
things are important."
A TEAM APPROACH
More than anything, TPI captures
a team-approach, which was incredibly appealing to Perron.
Rather than a client seeing just Perron for personal training,
Perron brings in the client's PGA Instructor, and, in some
cases, a physical therapist in an effort to help the client
achieve the optimum performance.
"The team approach is
a win-win for everyone," Perron said. "It looks
at the person's biggest red flag. If we can identify why this
individual is having a hard time moving, we can pinpoint the
exercise program to really improve that limitation. It's not
always a movement limitation. Sometimes it's a stability limitation,
which means a person may have a hard time just getting to
a certain position because their joints and their muscles
won't allow them there. We can pinpoint the training program
to where we really focus on the limitations, or the needs.
It's a needs-based program."
That team approach is also why PGA Professionals love the
"This is the key component
of the TPI system," said Kyle Phelps, PGA Head Professional
at the prestigious Rhode Island Country Club, who works closely
with Perron. "Just as an individual would have an accountant,
financial advisor and attorney work together to help improve
his or her financial future, a PGA Instructor, TPI trainer,
and medical person work to help improve a player's golfing
future. If an instructor tries to get a player to make a swing
change that the player does not have the strength or mobility
to make, he's wasting the player's time, money and could possibly
injure the player. An instructor and trainer working as a
team give a player the best chance at long-term improvement."
Phelps, whose course annually hosts
the Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade's CVS/Caremark Charity Classic
and will also be the venue for the U.S. Women's Amateur this
August, insists that TPI has been revolutionary for golfers,
no matter the level of ability.
"For so long instructors
and students have been frustrated trying to make changes that
the student does not have the physical ability to make,"
Phelps said. "The TPI Assessment gives the instructor,
and student, an 'X-ray' of the student's capabilities. It
allows them to understand what a student can or cannot do
and decide a realistic course of action."
And that's where Perron comes into play. After the assessment
and the discovery of what he terms, "red flags,"
he sets up a program for the client to help achieve certain
physical goals and address those problem areas. For Perron,
TPI is not limited simply to golf.
"After my exposure to
the TPI model, which is really a system of testing and training,
I use this model on all athletes, whether they're golfers,
tennis players, or lacrosse and everything in between - baseball
and soccer - because it's such a comprehensive way of looking
at movement," Perron said. "Truly, golf is one of
the most dynamic moving sports out there. This system looks
at how the body moves from a static and dynamic standpoint.
We take a look at a joint-by-joint approach of movement and
that helps to identify any red flags, or weak links that a
player may have that they need to really work on.
"For example, we do some balance
testing," he added. "It seems very simple, but what
we find here, is that many players in their 40s and 50s and
beyond, really lack balance. By helping to identify where
that's coming from - if it's from a joint perspective, like
an ankle, knee or hip joint that's affected and limits your
balance - in golf you need great balance and you need to work
that particular area. We look at stability, mobility, balance,
strength, strength endurance and also strength power. So we
evaluate all those aspects of the player and we've found that
this is a great way of looking at all athletes. Again, you're
looking at movement and you're looking at the body's ability
to access the movement."
Perron also enlists the services
of physical therapist Greg Specht in nearby Swansea, Mass.
Since TPI has been so successful with touring professionals,
Specht was enthusiastic about teaming up with Perron and offering
the program to golfers all over New England.
"A physical therapist,
particularly one who has studied the biomechanics of golf,
is able to analyze your physical capabilities and movements
to identify areas that are moving inefficiently - whether
you're in pain or not," Specht said. "Once we know
where your limitations are, we can design an exercise program
that fixes the problem areas before the injury happens, all
the while improving flexibility, strength, posture, etc. I
like the fact that the evaluation and training methods used
by TPI are tour proven and based on the latest biomechanical
and fitness research."
DON'T BE AFRAID
TO GIVE TPI A TRY
It's not uncommon for people who
aren't familiar with gym training to instantly be intimidated
just by the sights - all those free weights, machines that
look like the latest NASA project and, in some cases, people
who look like they should be on the cover of bodybuilding
For starters, congratulations on
your new gym membership. Now, wouldn't it be nice to get the
most out of it? Perron sure thinks so.
"If you're going to be spending
one or two hours a week in the gym, or maybe you're spending
seven hours a week in the gym, make sure you're not wasting
your time working on things that are superfluous," he
said. "Make sure you're working on the right systems
to improve not only your game, but to improve your health.
There's a lot of wasted time in the gym, where people don't
really know what they're doing. We're giving them direction
to work on the right things."
And… sigh of relief… that doesn't
involve moving a lot of weight.
Whether you're Brad Faxon, or a
weekend golfer who wants to get the most out of your game,
the team-approach theme taken with TPI is hard to beat.
"A player at any ability
level would benefit from TPI," Phelps said. "I have
yet to meet a player who does not want to hit it farther.
Most of the best players at my club are the ones who are most
serious about their fitness. All you need to do is turn on
the TV to see how big fitness has become in golf. The players
are better athletes and in better condition. The game has
become such a power game and fitness is a huge part of it."
Month: Q & A With Doug Perron
Trainer Doug Perron from the Barrington
Fitness Studio in Barrington, R.I., performs a TPI assessment
on a client.
Dan Rothfeld Photography
Q: Doug, can
you explain how you got started in personal training? It's
something you've been doing for 18 years now.
Perron: I was always
in the gym growing up. I was exposed to fitness and exercise
at the tender age of about 14, or so. I was always working
out to get in better shape and improve my performance. I guess
at the time, I had some problems with some growing pains and
was exposed to a good doctor - Dr. Ernie Lowe, an orthopedic
surgeon in Providence - who said, 'You should be into exercise.'
From there, I started lifting weights
and had the influence of my brother-in-law, who was an avid
weightlifter. We started in the gym around 14-15 years old
and had gone through a couple of different careers before
I became involved in personal training, but I always found
that common denominator with exercise, staying fit and working
Q: In the last
15 years or so, there's really been a boom in golf. The game
has gotten younger and these guys actually look like world-class
athletes and aren't nearly as round in the midsection. I guess
that's where the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) comes
into play. For years you've been the personal trainer to eight-time
PGA Tour champion Brad Faxon, right here in Barrington, R.I.
He's the person who introduced you to TPI. Tell us about that.
Perron: Prior to TPI, I had worked
with some amateur golfers and your average country club weekend
warriors. But, it was really Brad Faxon who exposed me to
TPI back in 2005. He took me out to Oceanside, Calif., to
the TPI facility and it was love at first sight, as they say.
Another way to put it is, I drank the Kool-Aid right away,
because I saw the program they designed and what they were
offering. My first exposure to TPI, I was convinced that it
was a superior model to testing and training the athletic
Q: Prior to TPI, you spent most
of your life in training. What was it that was so unique and
eye-opening for you about TPI?
Perron: First of all, beyond the
facility, the brain power of the founders. They put together
a total dream team of an advisory board, stacked with the
best people in the industry, from a fitness and medical standpoint.
They were looking at breaking down the body and golf connection.
They have a very systematic approach to looking at how the
body works in the golf swing and they have a lot of data.
Well before 2005, they started looking
at data, but 2005 is when TPI was born. They had a lot of
data compiled. They had worked with a lot of Tour players,
a lot of up and coming Tour players. It was just very impressive
to me - the whole facility and the way they look at and interpret
the body and golf connection.
Q: Your wall here at the Barrington
Fitness Studio is loaded with various TPI certifications.
How do those certification processes work?
Perron: The process has been ongoing
for the last six years. TPI is a multi-level, certification
process. There are four different tracks of certification
and each track has two levels of certification. Anybody who
enters into the TPI program has to first achieve their Level
I, which is a base-knowledge certification process. It's pretty
difficult and, again, looks at the body and golf swing connection.
My first exposure was a three-day
process out at TPI and then my first certification was a two-day
certification, which was followed by some testing. For the
last six years, really, I've gone to multiple levels of multiple
certifications, including their golf fitness certification;
their medical certification; and their junior player development
Q: For anyone reading this who might
be a little intimidated because - more likely than not - they're
certainly not on the level of a Brad Faxon, why would you
recommend TPI? Is it just for those serious about the game,
or also for the casual golfer?
Perron: I would absolutely recommend
TPI to the casual golfer. After my exposure to the TPI model,
which is really a system of testing and training, I use this
model on all athletes, whether they're golfers, tennis players,
or lacrosse and everything in between - baseball and soccer
- because it's such a comprehensive way of looking at movement.
Truly, golf is one of the most dynamic
moving sports out there. This system looks at how the body
moves from a static and dynamic standpoint. We take a look
at a joint-by-joint approach of movement and that helps to
identify any red flags, or weak links that a player may have
that they need to really work on.
For example, we do some balance
testing. It seems very simple, but what we find here, is that
many players in their 40s and 50s and beyond, really lack
balance. By helping to identify where that's coming from -
if it's from a joint perspective, like an ankle knee or hip
joint that's affected and limits your balance - in golf you
need great balance and you need to work that particular area.
We look at stability, mobility, balance, strength, strength
endurance and also strength power. So we evaluate all those
aspects of the player and we've found that this is a great
way of looking at all athletes.
Again, you're looking at movement
and you're looking at the body's ability to access the movement.
Q: You set up TPI programs for your
clients with varying degrees of difficulty that become more
intense as they progress. Do you notice a spike in clientele
during the non-golfing months, or is it a year round commitment
Perron: Our clientele captures both
those markets. We have people who are ongoing, who are 12-month
clients and come every week, sometimes 2-3 times per week.
We have other clients, who go on a six-week period and then
we re-evaluate and build another program for another six-week
period. So, it really depends upon the individual.
Q: Can you talk a little about your
relationship with Kyle Phelps, the PGA Head Professional at
Rhode Island Country Club, which will host the 2011 U.S. Women's
Perron: Kyle and I work together
with quite a few clients. Very often what happens is somebody
may have a difficult time achieving something in their swing.
If they're a right-handed player, they might have a problem
loading their right hip on their backswing. It could be a
physical limitation that's causing that, or it could be ankle,
knee or hip on their right side that's not allowing them to
get into that position. These players need mobility training.
If you think of the average club
player, who let's say is a 50-, or 60-year-old male, who is
having a hard time with consistency in his swing, it very
well may be a physical limitation. We run that person through
a screening process that looks over the individual's body
and build a program from there.
So, my relationship with Kyle is
a team-based approach, where Kyle will evaluate their swing
and point out any particular swing faults a player may have
and then we look at the body and try to develop a program
to correct any physical limitations they may have.
Q: How beneficial is that team approach
to the golfer? I mean, the golfer can literally come in here
with his or her PGA Professional with a video of the swing
where the instructor points out to you what he or she sees
as the limitation and you use your expertise to devise a plan
to fix that.
Perron: The team approach is a win-win
for everyone. It looks at the person's biggest red flag. If
we can identify why this individual is having a hard time
moving, we can pinpoint the exercise program to really improve
It's not always a movement limitation.
Sometimes it's a stability limitation, which means a person
may have a hard time just getting to a certain position because
their joints and their muscles won't allow them there. We
can pinpoint the training program to where we really focus
on the limitations, or the needs. It's a needs-based program.
Another way to look at that is,
if you're going to be spending one or two hours a week in
the gym, or maybe you're spending seven hours a week in the
gym, make sure you're not wasting your time working on things
that are superfluous. Make sure you're working on the right
systems to improve not only your game, but to improve your
health. There's a lot of wasted time in the gym, where people
don't really know what they're doing. We're giving them direction
to work on the right things.
Q: What's your clientele like for
the people on TPI? As you mentioned earlier, it's really for
everyone… Maybe even for the average country club guy, who
thinks he's too old to go to the gym, but still wants to get
better at golf.
Perron: Our clientele spans generations.
We have some juniors we work with, who are 15-17, 18 years
old before they go off to college. Right now I'm working with
a junior, who is on his way to the IMG Leadbetter Academy
for a PG year before he goes off to college.
We work with men and women. I'd
have to say that the majority of the people we work with are
the 40-60-year-old people, who are trying to improve their
physical performance through exercise and trying to improve
their game through physical exercise.
Q: What has been your most rewarding
moment so far in your six years with TPI?
Perron: Certainly I feel like we've
been riding the wave with TPI, because it's evolved over the
last six years. And being a part of that team approach has
been a wonderful experience. Being a part of the meeting of
the minds with this great team has probably been the best
I enjoy working with beginners to
professionals like Faxon. Obviously, that's been a great experience,
working with Brad.
I enjoy working with kids, working
with Button Hole. We do Brad Faxon Day at Button Hole, where
you're exposing kids to exercise and making that connection
between being healthy, being physically fit and being a better
player. It's all been a wonderful experience.
Q: Clearly, you're a professional
in the world of athletic training. Why is it that TPI is the
best program out there for - not just golf - but all aspects
of getting fit?
Perron: TPI looks at movement. Part
of the TPI program is based upon one of the advisory board
members, Gray Cook, and in my opinion and in the opinion of
a lot of people, he's a pioneer in movement, movement assessment
and movement correction. The model really looks at Gray's
work along with Greg Rose and Dave Phillips (the co-founders
of TPI) and is a very comprehensive program to fix movement
and I just think it's where the future of training is going.
You can quote me on that. Right now, they're working on a
system of evaluation in exercise prescription that is truly
going to change where exercise is going.
Q: What do you think was the main
reason for something like TPI being created? Is it because
golf has become much younger? Is it safe to say that Tiger
Woods changed the physical look of a golfer?
Perron: Early on, Tiger was with
Titleist and, back in those days, he worked with Greg and
Dave. They looked at film, looked at movement and really where
TPI changed the way golf is, they looked at the kinematics
sequence with K-Vest and with the best ball-strikers, how
their kinematics sequence works. They developed a way to look
at 3-D imaging of the golf swing and they were able to look
at the swing you have - there's no one perfect way to swing
the club, but there's a more efficient way for your body to
swing the club - so what they started to realize is that,
the people who are most fit, are better able to make a more
It really comes down to having the
proper stability and the proper mobility at the right places
in your body. That joint-by-joint approach, a good way to
put it, your foot needs to be stable, but your ankle needs
to be mobile, your knee needs to be stable, but your hip needs
to be mobile, your lumbar spine and your core needs to be
stable, but your mid-back - your thoracic spine - needs to
be mobile, your shoulder blade needs to be stable, but your
shoulder joint needs to be mobile, your elbow joint needs
to be stable and your wrists need to be mobile and your hands
need to be stable. There's an alternating path of mobility
and stability and if one of those joints is not working correctly
- if it's stable when it should by mobile - it can set up
some problems in the golf swing. Not only a golf swing, but
in any sport.
Again, it's a way of looking at
human movement and evaluating any flaws in the movement and
then correcting those flaws so the body can move more efficiently.
Q: I know you don't play much seeing
as you have a young family and a small business to run, but
what results have you seen in your own game by applying TPI?
Perron: That's a great question.
What I initially found out is that I have my limitations too.
No one is immune to it. Everyone has certain limitations.
With me, it helped me to identify some range of motion limitations
within my hips that ultimately affected my back. With correcting
those hip limitations, I relieved the pressure in my back
and swing more efficiently. Not only that, but looking at
the entire model, I now have almost X-ray eyes, where I can
better understand my own body and how it feels and how it
effects my golf swing. My hip joint is a little limited, which
didn't allow me a very efficient backswing. In fact, the way
my body is set up, I'm more efficient swinging to my left.
If I were a left-handed player, I'd run a little more efficiently
swinging that way. Not that I can play left-handed!
Lastly, I just want to say that
earlier you mentioned some older folks are going to think,
'This isn't for me, it's for a younger person.' Well, it's
really never too late to start and it's never too early to
With the junior program, they really
look at the Long-Term Athletic Development model (LTAD). Golf
is a late-specialization sport and human movement from gymnastics
to martial arts to soccer and baseball all work on improving
your golfing ability.
If you're thinking about getting
your young children started with golf, really because it is
a late-specialization sport, they're involvement in any other
sport is going to help them become a better golfer. Rather
than try to teach your 4-year-old how to play golf, teach
your 4-year-old how to move properly and give them athletic
movements through other sports and then slowly expose them
to golf and make sure they have the proper training.
Q: People should also know, there's
not a whole lot of weights involved in TPI.
Perron: That's a good point. One
way to think of this is, in many cases, after we evaluate
somebody, we find what we term, 'a problem.' For example,
if you have a mobility problem, which means you have limited
range of motion over one, or two, or maybe three joints, if
you bring a strength solution to a mobility problem, you're
going to create more of a problem. If you have a weakness
and you're just trying to stretch out that weakness, maybe
the weakness on somebody doesn't involve any mobility restrictions.
Maybe they're very supple and maybe they have a perfect range
of motion. Now you're trying to stretch them even more and
you're going to add more of a problem.
In this case, if somebody has a
strength problem and you bring a mobility solution to the
problem, you're not going to help them out. So, the idea is
bringing the right correction to the limitation.
The Secret to Preventing Back Pain in Golfers…
The incidence of low back pain among
golfers is extremely high. In fact low back pain is the most
common physical complaint affecting amateur and professional
golfers. Unfortunately, research shows that ignoring the problem
will not make the pain go away. In fact, not managing your
back pain will often lead to progressive worsening symptoms
and disability. So obviously, preventing back pain and injury
in the first place, is the key to long-term spinal health
and optimal performance.
Commonly, back pain sufferers feel that their low back is “tight” and needs to be stretched. However, while stretching the low back may temporarily ease pain and stiffness, the real problem is often that the lower back is over-working to compensate for stiffness in the hips. So the secret to improving your performance while preventing back pain is…
Improve your flexibility where you need it most. How do you know if your hips are tight?
See below for the windshield wiper test.
An important consideration when performing any stretching program is the understanding that your body will move in the path of least resistance. Simply stated you will often stretch in the way that you move the easiest, while ignoring your greatest movement limitations. A great golf analogy to illustrate this point is the common practice of many golfers to hit their driver for hours on the range while ignoring the short game.
The other crucial point is learning where your body needs the most attention. Understanding and respecting your ‘Mobility-Stability Pattern’ is paramount when addressing movement limitations. With regard to your hips, during a full swing each hip joint will ideally move through 45 degrees of internal rotation. The picture below demonstrates an easy way to assess your own hip internal rotation mobility. In this picture the left leg demonstrates adequate internal rotation range of motion while the right leg shows poor mobility. In this example with limited right hip internal rotation, a right-handed golfer will likely be forced to compensate on his back swing with poor swing mechanics and excessive strain on the low back and right knee. Not only will this result in inconsistent ball striking, over time this could cause injury to the lower back or knee.
If your hip moves less than ideally, try the hip drop exercise as described on the exercise page at www.iGOLFfit.com.
If you are looking for more information on golf fitness and physical therapy visit us at www.iGOLFfit.com.
“Feel Good, Golf Great”
Mobility v. Stability
To produce the properly
orchestrated segmental movements of any functional movement it is
essential for an athlete to have a balanced body. “Balanced” as
we think of it in the golf-fitness world, is the fine line that
exists between mobility and stability in your stance and swing.
If you are too
loose-jointed, or have mobility that you are unable to control during
your golf swing, any number of swing faults or injuries can result.
On the other hand, if your muscles and joints are stiff and limiting
your ability to move - you will be unable to create an adequate
“X-Factor Stretch” through your hips and core, resulting in lack
Now le’s dig a
little deeper to see how this concept relates to each segment of your
|The best way to
explain optimal body mechanics is to discuss the “Mobility-Stability
Pattern” which demonstrates how the body works, in an alternating
pattern of stable segments connected by mobile joints. If this
pattern of mobile joints and stable body segments is altered in any
way, dysfunctional movement patterns will occur.
LowBack/Core - Stable
Back - Mobile
Blade - Stable
Simply put, if joints
needing mobility are tight, or body segments that require stability
are weak, biomechanical compensations in the golf swing will occur.
This is because the body tends to follow the path of least resistance
and we move in whatever way feels the least restriction, whether or
not it is the correct movement pattern.
How do we address
mobility and stability limitations?
Or more important:
How do we know what is limited?
The best way to know if
your body is adversely affecting your game is to get evaluated by a
physical therapist, personal trainer or golf professional who
understands how the body affects the golf swing. This way you can be
certain that you are performing the correct program. With that said,
there are certain patterns of dysfunction seen in the great majority
of golfers and so we have described some typical dysfunctional
patterns and exercises that can help.
Just like time spent
working on your short game…touring professionals do
this kind of training because it is important, and so should you!
Visit www.iGOLFfit.com for detailed descriptions and photographs of helpful exercises.
professionals at iGOLFfit to set up your golf fitness program today!
Titleist's Fitness Program
By BRUCE VITTNER
Have you noticed the physical shapes of golfers on Tour? Wonder why players hit the ball so far today? Seen the two large golf fitness trailers set up at the Deutsche Bank Championship?
If you talk to the players, most all will say they are in great physical condition and that they follow a golf-specific training regimen to get the most from their bodies and help reduce injuries.
Titleist, a leading manufacturer of golf balls and golf equipment, developed a program in 2003 called the Titleist Performance Institute. The purpose of the program was to make golfers more fit, so that in the long run they will play better and longer and hence use more golf balls.
"Wally Uihlein and the top staff at Titleist had the foresight to see that the USGA was putting restrictions on balls and clubs and the only way to get more distance was to improve the ultimate source-the golfer's body," said PGA Tour professional Brad Faxon who has been going out to the Titleist Performance Institute facility (which is next door to the Equipment Testing Facility) in Oceanside, Cal. since soon after its inception.
"You are hooked up to wires and electrodes that test your legs, trunk and upper body to find the areas of strength and weakness, and then you are given a fitness program to help improve the areas you need," added Faxon. "The reason that young players absolutely kill the ball is that they are learning at an early age to best use their body for the golf swing," he said.
Two life-long friends from Pawtucket, Doug Perron and Greg Specht, have embraced this Titleist Performance Institute concept with the formation of iGOLFfit. Perron is a physical therapist assistant, personal trainer and fitness instructor who owns Barrington Fitness Studio. He is a graduate of Newbury College has been trained at the Titleist Performance Institute, the golf fitness program in Oceanside and has been honing his craft for 18 years.
He has earned the distinction of TPI's Level 3 Fitness Certification, Level 2 Medical Certification and is working towards his Level 3 Junior Development Certification.
Specht is a graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in physical therapy. He owns Specht Physical Therapy, an orthopedic and sports therapy center in Swansea and has been a physical therapist for 19 years. Greg has earned his Level 2 Medical and Level 2 Fitness Certification and is an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist.
"The goal of Titleist Performance Institute is to have everyday golfers have access to this golf-specific health and golf fitness information and technology through an internet program called MyTPI. Part of the program includes access to articles and exercises on their website www.mytpi.com.
"I really believe in the program. I've seen how it has improved the golfing ability of so many of my clients," said the enthusiastic Perron. "Doug is the best fitness trainer that I know. I've gone to him so often that we have become good friends," said Faxon who also mentioned that Doug's wife, Valerie, is the best massage therapist he's ever worked with.
"We try to work on strength, mobility, stability, balance and power," said Perron who does a complete evaluation of each client who comes to his studio. These evaluations are done compared to a standard, and he and Specht use many different tools in the evaluation process. Within a couple of days the client comes back into the studio and a targeted fitness and wellness plan has been developed with specific exercises to work on to improve your golf fitness.
"If I find that someone has a physical limitation or injury that would preclude doing some of the exercises or training regimen, then I send him or her to Greg," said Perron who also gets many referrals from golf professionals. Kyle Phelps at Rhode Island Country Club and Troy Pare at Wannamoisett are two local pros that are Titleist Performance Institute certified.
"Kyle is just down the street and he really gets it with regard to golf fitness training. I am always sending clients to him with the results of the TPI evaluation, and he often sends golfers to me," said Perron. "I've told many of my clients that they are wasting money by taking lessons when they won't improve substantially until they become more fit," said Phelps.
"The first thing I do when I want to make a change in someone's swing is to test the person and make sure that they have the ability to do what I am asking. If they can, we attack it, but if they can't I suggest that they go and see Doug, We work as a team for the benefit of our students and I've seen results from everyone I've sent to Doug," said Phelps.
"The TPI Model is great and Doug is the best. He is not only an expert in his field, but you will never find someone who will care more about your results than him," he added.
Steve Napoli, head professional at Carnegie Abbey and long-time member of the RIPGA and a proponent of the TPI program, admitted that he likes work but he hates working out. "I go to the Barrington Fitness Studio twice a week at about 5:30 in the morning. The time flies by and I find that Doug has really been helpful for me," said Napoli.
"I've been to Greg when I needed physical therapy and he's been very helpful," said Faxon who sees PT's across the country while on Tour. "Their (Perron and Specht) concept of feeling good and golfing great is wonderful for golfers and it will certainly help golfers perform at their peak," added Faxon.
Visit their website at www.iGOLFfit.com to find out more about this concept of physical fitness as it relates specifically to golf.
Editor's Note: Perron and Specht have agreed to write a golf fitness column in each issue of Ocean State Golf for the next year.
Stay tuned for more golf health and golf fitness techniques!
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