Playing Golf At 50….Like A 40 Year Old!

By Steve Mathis

As I sit here writing this article, Angel Cabrera just won the 2009 Masters Tournament. While I don’t have a particular favorite golfer, I do confess I was rooting for Kenny Perry to become the oldest ever to win a Major. While I’m still a few years younger than Perry, I did find it comforting to see someone playing at such a high level while approaching 50 years old; his winning would have given hope to a lot of golfers who feel they are past their prime. Last month I wrote about the TPI program at Totally Driven, the Ultimate Golf Improvement Center located in Oakdale. Lynn Anderson at Totally Driven introduced me to TPI (the Titleist Performance Institute) as a way to improve my range of motion and flexibility, a concern of mine since I turned 40 last year.

The TPI fitness program begins with an initial set of measurements and then a series of exercises designed to improve lacking areas. After the initial consultation with Lynn, TPI emailed a detailed report to me along with a fitness handicap. While my golf handicap is a 4, my TPI fitness handicap was a 12. Clearly I had room to improve, so I did my best to follow the TPI program and see what happened.

I logged into the TPI website three times a week for six weeks to do the assigned workouts (They were scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but could be done on any day, depending on my schedule). Each workout consisted of 14 or 15 exercises aimed at improving my areas of weakness, which, in my case, were hamstring flexibility and core strength along with some range of motion issues in my spine, hips and shoulders. The first six workouts were fairly similar with maybe one or two different exercises. After the first six, the exercises increased in difficulty and intensity.

One great part of the TPI program is that each workout comes with instructions as well as a brief video demonstrating how to do the exercises. Watching the video added a little time to the workout, but the exercises were easy to remember, eliminating the necessity to watch every time. Overall, each workout took about an hour to complete. The exercises are designed to be simple with minimal equipment needed. For my workouts I needed a Swiss exercise ball, some rubber exercise bands, a medicine ball and some light weights. During the workouts, I noticed some exercises that seemed a little too easy, so I did my best to make them more challenging, either adding more repetitions, more weight or more resistance.

Last week I returned to Totally Driven to check how well the exercises worked. Lynn took measurements for all my problem areas and I improved most of them. Lynn then entered my new numbers into the TPI website and I lowered my fitness handicap from a 12 to a 6! Dropping six points in six weeks was more than I could have guessed or hoped for. While I showed great improvement in most areas, certain problem areas remained, like the inflexibility in my hamstrings which I’ve always had. Another area where I didn’t improve much was in the range of motion in my shoulders. During the TPI program, I noticed some shoulder pain. The fact that I didn’t have much improvement despite diligently doing the exercises indicated to me that my shoulders needed more than just the TPI exercises. As I talked to Lynn about this problem, she agreed that my lack of improvement might warrant some further testing. She gave me the card of a nearby physical therapist that she works with so I could see if there was bigger problem with my shoulders.

Like any exercise program, one of the biggest difficulties is finding the time to do the exercises consistently. The flexibility of the TPI program to do the exercises whenever it fit my schedule made the program very convenient. It was also very encouraging to see such tangible results in such a relatively short amount of time. The exercises now will help to at least maintain my new fitness handicap and maybe even improve a little more. Sure, there are lots of exercise programs out there, but the TPI program’s focus on golfers and their swings is unlike any other. With convincing results, a visit to Totally Driven and the TPI program might be just what the golf doctor ordered for your golf game if you want to slow the effects of time or if you just want to feel a little bit healthier. I don’t expect to be anywhere near as good as Kenny Perry (or Angel Cabrera either), but I hope to keep my handicap about the same over the next several years as I approach the next big birthday. The TPI program will help me do just that.

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