I have always wondered what is the difference between Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and me. Is it the major championship wins? I’ve won my fair share of high-pressure Sunday matches. Is it the amount of money I’ve won playing golf? I’ve also won my fair share of 50-cent skins. So that can’t be it.
This past week I learned that in order to play golf like a professional you need to start working out like a professional. I had the opportunity to work with Mark Klinger, Mark Helscher, and Kelly Fagundes in their new TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Fitness Program at Horseshoe Bay Golf Club.
The Horseshoe Bay TPI Fitness Program is broken down into three different parts aligning with each of their team members. Mark Klinger, the Head Pro at HSB, focuses most on swing analysis, drills and techniques for your game. Mark Helscher, certified ACE trainer, focuses on the strength and conditioning surrounding your game. And Kelly Fagundes, with a Masters in Physical Therapy, helps golfers on injury prevention, treatment and works to correct any physical limitations. A whole team at my disposal, dedicated to helping me work on my golf game? I’m already starting to feel like Jordan Spieth.
TPI is about understanding how a body’s limitations can influence the golf swing and how to address those limitations. Klinger, Helscher and Fagundes constantly preach that TPI is about not fighting your body with your golf swing. Seventeen of the last 20 major championships were won by players advised by a TPI-certified expert and I was about to meet with three of them!
To get started all golfers go through a physical screening: 16 standardized tests to assess your swing mechanics, physical fitness, movement quality, and your health. Once finished with this screening your results are used to create a plan that is unique to you.
Being the young, athletic, 25-year-old that I am, I was ready to pass this test with flying colors. Out of the 16 tests I only passed eight of them. Three of the tests (Setup Posture, Single Leg Balance and Lower Quarter Rotations) I failed labeled as a major concern but with the most opportunity for improvement.
Then, after taking about 10 recorded swings with my seven iron, the screening was complete. The analysis of my swing video showed I have an early extension, and a bit of casting which results in my arms “chicken-winging” that can cause a low hook or a high-and-to-the-right ball flight.
I don’t consider myself a great golfer but I do carry a six handicap. After seeing the results of these tests I was honestly deflated. There was a lot wrong with me physically and with my golf swing.
Then Mark Helscher stepped in and reminded me that I am already a six handicap with these faults in my game. Imagine how much my game would improve by just one workout with him addressing those faults. That is what the TPI fitness program is for. Suddenly I started feeling very optimistic about my golf game, so optimistic that I called Helscher the next day to schedule a workout. Justin Thomas look out, here comes Matthew Marcon.