Ryan Harmon is a board-certified Sports Dietitian in Windemere, Florida.
I recently collaborated with Thor Parrish of the South Florida PGA Section on a presentation at Quail Creek Country Club for some Section PGA Professionals – the discussion was about proper nutrition for a varied level of golfer – juniors, professionals and senior golfers.
Prior to this event last month, I had held several virtual sessions in the Section that welcomed upwards of 70 PGA Professionals, eager to learn about proper diet and nutrition – information they would share with their diverse roster of students.
My background includes work with PGA and LPGA Professionals, as well as in other sports, including NFL, MLB, NBA and even with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Starting my career primarily around science and research, becoming a board-certified dietitian wasn’t on my initial radar. But as I figured out that I wanted to work with people, rather than be relegated to a research lab, my path became clear. So, with two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degrees attained, I completed an internship at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, passed my boards, got licensed and even completed an extra certification in sports nutrition.
Proper diet and nutrition in golf is as important as it is in any other sport, and educating the PGA teachers and coaches in the game is the most effective way to disseminate this vital information to their students. In addition, I am sometimes called in to personally conduct nutritional consultations with specific students and athletes of these South Florida PGA Section professionals. These include elite juniors, collegiate players, Tour professionals and club members.
The Quail Creek event with Thor Parrish was successful because we had two dozen Section pros in the room, discussing a topic that is not often part of the conversation – proper nutrition to maximize performance in your golfers. We made the program enjoyable, easy to understand and super useful for all the coaches in attendance. Giving them knowledge to take back to their students was an important goal of the day.
Most of my presentations are very detailed, and specific to one aspect of nutrition. For instance, I recently conducted a seminar that discussed performance nutrition for cognition and focus. What specific kinds of foods can we incorporate to improve focus? What kind of supplements ameliorate cognition on the course, in pressure situations with much on the line? These, of course, are not topics that are typically discussed with your golf pro on the lesson tee. But through our engagement, I am opening the PGA Professional’s mind to a new approach to maximizing their students’ performance. I am sharing information that most PGA Professionals haven’t had before, and they’re loving it. Their education trickles down to their students, thus adding value to that relationship.