Titleist Performance Institute
By Steve Manthis
The awareness of becoming 40 is hard to explain unless you’ve crossed that threshold. When I was in my 20s and 30s I heard about the physical decline that oftentimes accompanies the reaching of 40, but I didn’t really know how truthful the stories were of those who had already gone “over the hill”. For me, I notice that I get sore much easier and I don’t recover from aches and pains as fast as I used to. I’ve never had much flexibility, but my body’s inflexibility has really showed up this last year. All these physical problems make playing the game of golf an even harder task. In hopes of slowing the decline, I contacted Lynn Anderson of Totally Driven in Oakdale.
Totally Driven, the Ultimate Golf Improvement Center, works on all parts of the game of golf. In addition to custom fitting, building clubs and golf instruction, they also will design a golf-related workout program for you. I’ve been an active person my whole life, but I really haven’t spent much time in the gym. Turning 40, and the subsequent side effects of doing so, had me wondering what I could do to improve my golf game and my overall physical health.
When I arrived at Totally Driven, Lynn told me about the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) fitness program. TPI was started by Dr. Greg Rose, a chiropractor, and Dave Philips, a golf professional. The two studied the golf swing over the course of 10 years and identified what they feel are the 12 most common flaws in a swing. After identifying these 12 swing flaws, they developed ways to assess a person’s physical abilities and limitations which might cause those flaws to occur. As anyone who’s ever taken a golf lesson knows, knowledge of a flaw is one small part of the problem; correcting the error is the harder thing to do. Here’s where the TPI fitness program fits in. Once a person completes the assessment, TPI gives you a golf fitness handicap along with an exercise program aimed at lowering it.
Over the course of the next hour, Lynn put me through several tests to assess my body’s mobility, stability, balance and posture. I followed what she asked me to do, knowing that some of the things she had me do aren’t easy for me (like simply touching my toes). Once we finished, Lynn entered my results into the TPI website (mytpi.com). TPI then takes those results and identifies your golf handicap, which it sends to you through an email. While I play to a 4 handicap, TPI identified my fitness handicap as a 12. Apparently, I’m overachieving. Knowing that I play to a handicap lower than my fitness handicap is good news, but I was left wondering how much I could improve my golf handicap, and overall health, if I were able to lower this fitness handicap.
Without listing them all here, I had some good results and some serious deficiencies. For example, in the area of mobility, I had between 41 and 50 degrees of right rotation in my thoracic spine, while I had between 51 and 60 degrees of left rotation. I’ve had some lower back trouble before (nothing major), but the results showed me just how much. As a way to compare my thoracic spine mobility, TPI says the average PGA Tour player has over 60 degrees of rotation. Having a larger amount of right rotation, according to the email from TPI, will help me create more coil during my backswing. Obviously, I need to work on strengthening and loosening up my lower back, along with many other things. Many of my results were close to, but just a little below, the results of a PGA Tour player, my range of motion in my shoulders, for example. I even had a few results that were above the PGA Tour average, like my external hip rotation and my ability to evenly distribute my weight, so there is some hope for me.
Once we finished with the assessments, I made a few swings which Lynn recorded for analysis. The major items we talked about were my tendency to move towards the ball during the swing, something called “early extension” and the fact that my hips, at impact, have not rotated enough. Of the 12 common flaws identified by Greg Rose and Dave Philips, these are my two. As it turns out, both of these are direct results of my lack of mobility and flexibility.
After looking at my golf fitness handicap, test results and swing, Lynn entered and created a series of workouts for me. TPI created an account for me, and sent me, through email, my password to access the workouts. The thrice-weekly workouts are scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but there really is flexibility on when you do the workouts. You can do all the exercises at home or at the gym if you prefer. The TPI Fitness Program runs for 6 weeks (18 workouts), after which I will go back and be reassessed. Hopefully, I can lower that 12 handicap of mine down to something in the single digits. If so, I might be able to keep my golf score on the low side of 40 for a while longer despite the fact that my age is on the other side.