Steve Buzza, MPhil, PGA, a GRAA Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional and Golf Digest Best Young Teacher in America, is based at Bonita Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Yoga has a history ten times that of the game of golf, but all these centuries later, golfers are reaping the benefits that yoga provides, both mentally and physically. As a golf teaching professional learned in Sport Science and Biomechanics, I believe it is vital to use yoga as a mechanism to not only prepare the body for golf, but to simplify swing mechanics, while preparing students emotionally for the demands of the golf course.
I started doing yoga in my late teens after suffering the effects of a huge growth spurt when I was 15 or 16 years old. When I completed my Biomechanics thesis, I began to share my knowledge in an unassuming manner, and sought a way for players to experience it and feel it, rather than just dictate what they should be feeling.
I spoke with Tammy Mugavero, the Director of Fitness at Bonita Bay Club, to seek a certification in yoga. This wasn’t really to implement a comprehensive yoga program at the club, but for my own edification and growth as a coach. However, she told me that a yoga for golf certification would mean I could teach classes right there at our facility. A few years later, these classes have become a hybrid of classic yoga, biomechanics and visualization exercises for the golf course.
With a fitness team at Bonita Bay that is second to none, I don’t pretend to be a fitness expert in any way. My goal remains to introduce our male members to the benefits of yoga, and then ensure that they are familiar with the fitness services at the club, as well as the benefits of those services to their golf game, and also to their general health and wellness. After all, when you can get a student to feel what you’re trying to teach them, that’s often the key to convincing them of the merits of your concepts and philosophies.
Today, we’re attracting a lot of husbands and wives to the yoga sessions, as it’s been a safe space for people to learn yoga, understand its objectives and do so at their own pace. There’s no Asana (pose to pose transition) in our yoga classes, eliminating the individual’s potential to fall behind the sequence of the group session. I keep our format very simple, while trying to give them golf-specific feels, as well as a mix of medium and high intensity bursts in the middle. It was definitely an effective way to open their eyes to the benefits of yoga for golf and introduce them to the many fitness services that Bonita Bay has to offer.
At Montauk, where I spent the summer teaching and coaching, I’ve had a lot of women beginner golfers in my lessons, and have implemented yoga into those sessions, as well. They may not have golf experience, but I tap into their overall athletic IQ. In fact, I’ve had many women students on Long Island who have far more experience in yoga than I do, enabling me to link the benefits of yoga to their golf game, alleviating some of the anxiety and fear that sometimes come with learning a new activity like golf.