Becky Dengler, the 2016 Philadelphia PGA Section Teacher of the Year, is an LPGA Master Professional and a PGA Teaching Professional at Ed Oliver Golf Club, in Wilmington, Delaware.
After almost three decades teaching the game of golf, I have seen many changes in how we help students improve their skills. What was once all about the technical aspects of the swing now includes conditioning of one’s body to perform those required movements as effectively as possible. We have since applied a direct correlation between physical fitness and results on the golf course. It is with these efforts in mind that I attained my TPI Level 3 certification in 2014.
I initiate this golf and fitness connection with golfers at an early age, implementing specific warmups during our First Tee programs. With adults, I conduct individual TPI screenings as I see issues arise in the swing that are likely attributable to the body, taking students through various screens to see what they can and cannot do. The most telling results usually come from testing their ability to separate – to keep the upper body stable while rotating the lower. I have found that most people cannot do this without assistance. This is regardless of age, demographic or body type. It is a movement more conducive to a gymnast or dancer, requiring that type of body awareness and control.
As a result, the most important thing to me in the golf swing is the sequencing on the downswing. Few golfers do this at a high level, but it should be as efficient as possible for each individual based on the factors that they bring to the table. It is important for golf instructors to be able to address these issues, but also have a collaborative team of experts that will provide the highest level of service for your clients.
The professionals at FIT Delaware approached me several years ago about providing winter programming in their studio. They had a very good physical therapist and we collaborated on a two-hour fitness program. I have even produced some videos for their Facebook page and have been told by students that they’ve been very helpful. This relationship has resulted in growth of my lesson business, and has been equally beneficial for the FIT Delaware team.
Progress in golf is rarely achieved quickly or in a vacuum; it is often multi-faceted and all-encompassing. These days, we focus on the body, fitness and mobility, as well as playing the right equipment. For the latter, I partner with Club Champion to address my students’ clubfitting needs.
As PGA Professionals, we have collaborated with putting specialists and short game experts for years. After all, having a team of experts available to address your students’ physical limitations, mental side, nutrition or other aspects of their game provides a holistic approach that is seamlessly woven in when appropriate, and can help them achieve their goals, and maintain a healthier lifestyle off the course.