Getting Into the Swing of Fit
Instructional programs tie fitness to golf proficiency
By Carrie Honaker
Standing on the first tee at the Tom Fazio-designed Camp Creek golf course, surrounded by lush wetlands, the only thing between you and a perfect game is making the right connections with that dimpled white orb. That isn’t the golf club’s job. It’s yours — your body, balance, flexibility, strength and endurance working in unison as you grip, bend and swing.
That’s where the new Watersound Club Golf Fit program and the abbreviated Golf Fit Express come in. Ben Blalock, director of golf instruction, and Amy Robison, director of wellness and outdoor pursuits, team up to lead Members through a regimen that combines targeted wellness and golf instruction.
“This program brings together Amy’s knowledge of flexibility and strength building with my knowledge of golf technique,” Blalock said. “The golf swing is fairly complex — it’s a compound movement that involves the whole body.”
Breaking down that movement is the first step in the six-week, intensive Golf Fit program. Using a diagnostic tool, Robison checks everything from neck, shoulder, wrist, elbow, hip, knee and ankle mobility to pelvic tilt and rotational capabilities. The score sheet reveals weaknesses in relation to degrees of movement, allowing Robison to target issues.
On the golf side, Blalock employs a computerized program, tracking data using a radar device.
“TrackMan measures every shot a player can hit across 34 different data points,” he said. “Some of those are related to the golf ball. Some are related to the club. It’s linked to video cameras that allow us to play things back to watch and analyze the movement.”
These initial assessments figure into a plan for each member. Blalock determines what the most needed areas of improvement are based on the software’s measurements and creates an individualized program for each person. Robison puts together exercises utilizing bands, kettlebells, medicine balls and mats to specifically focus on rotation, and to isolate the different movements in the body.
“When we start to break it down and focus on isolating the thoracic rotation, keeping the hips in a stationary position, you start to increase mobility and flexibility. You can really see a difference, even after one day of working with it,” Robison said.
Weekly class meetings augment the golf-specific work and exercises. Members spend 45 minutes with Robison and 45 minutes with Blalock. Between class meetings, Members get a one-on-one, half-hour session with each instructor.
“Each of the days in the program we address a specific part of the swing,” Blalock said. “It may be how the lower body works, or how the arms work, or maybe balance within the golf swing.”
Golf Fit participants often enjoy a 10% increase in club-head speed, which translates to longer shots and lower scores. Improvement is measured by comparing end-of-course assessments with assessments taken at the start of the six weeks of instruction.
“In real terms, when you can swing the club a mile per hour faster, the shot can go three to five yards longer,” Blalock said. “So if you were to make your club go eight miles an hour faster, that translates into 24 to 40 yards longer. That makes the game much easier. The further your shot goes, the closer it gets to the green.”
Not everybody can commit to a sixweek course, and that’s where Golf Fit Express comes in. The abbreviated oneweek version of the program doesn’t include the assessment, but includes the same focus on fundamentals that participants are exposed to in the longer program.
“Amy creates a handout with exercises you can take home and put in your workout room or use at the gym,” Blalock said. “It gives you prescribed movements, number of repetitions, how many days per week to implement the program. And then I do the same with golf training. You’ll have a prescribed practice regimen to net gains over the six weeks, three months or hopefully your lifetime as you continually work to improve your game.”
Golf Fit not only improves your game, but your functional fitness overall. Robison said she’s seen Members lose significant weight, radically improve their range of motion and regain balance.
Member John Lebowitz said, “Being a high-handicap player and just getting back into golf, I decided to join the inaugural Golf Fit program. It surpassed all my expectations. The blending of complementary fitness by Amy and instruction by Ben was spot on. It gave me a wonderful foundation to improve my game. I highly recommend it.”
Whether they opt for the full program or the express version, Members learn tools with which to hone their swing and improve physical fitness.
“It really is important for people to tie in their fitness with their game,” Blalock said. “People want to play golf forever. I teach everybody from age 6 to 86; it’s a lifetime game. The longer your body allows you to play, the more enjoyment you can get out of it.”