Mike Tabbert is the PGA Director of Instruction and Club Fitting at Ironworks Golf Academy in Beloit, Wisconsin.
I wrote a piece for the GFAA in November of 2021 that was all about introducing fitness to your golf students. After all, most golfers will spend hours beating balls on the range, hoping to finally groove that perfect swing or move better than they could before. But unfortunately, although repetition breeds familiarity, it doesn’t always increase mobility, flexibility, strength, stamina and power. At Ironworks Golf Academy, we have programs for that.
The year starts with our Power Golf Academy, an 11-week off season course that meets weekly for 60 minutes from January through March. We spread equipment across our indoor putting green and set up our netted range bays to accommodate swing drills. We teach exercise drills and help golfers apply those concepts to their actual golf swing. The Power Golf Academy targets the whole body to gain more mobility, strength and speed, and uses K-Player to facilitate biofeedback drills – you can’t beat the visual feedback. With 24 golfers signed up, we’ll have two separate sessions starting up in a few weeks. They’ll have an initial assessment, which will serve as a baseline upon which progress will be measured, as we implement different drills every three weeks in a circuit training format. In years past, golfers have increased club head speed by an average of five mph, resulting in over 20 yards gained by increasing power and range of motion.
Another program we offer is a comprehensive four-hour game analysis called TPI Accelerator. This is a full Level I TPI screening – 15 exercises; a TPI Power Level Screening, looking at their upper, core and lower body power; a 3D swing analysis using K-Vest and a BodiTrak ground mechanics analysis. These services help provide the most comprehensive game analysis, while looking at ball flight using TrackMan and swing video. Participants also get a full workout, speed and biomechanics training and a full video lesson. Each individual’s body-swing connection results derived from this session will determine the gameplan moving forward – fitness, swing mechanics or even club fitting.
We run speed schools throughout the summer, hosting 6-8 students in speed training using K-Vest and TrackMan to evaluate ball flight and swing mechanics. Swing modifications for each individual student are discussed based on their physical capabilities. How can we help them gain more range in their golf swing to generate more club head speed and distance? Through trial and error, we isolate their power sources and seek to untap a little more club head speed through simple modifications, such as flaring an elbow or lifting their lead heal to be able to turn more. We discuss ball flight optimization, adding a fitting component to the game improvement process. On average, our participants gain 5 mph within the three-hour session. Some have gained 10-12 mph in the one session!
We also have a Junior Sports Academy that instills fitness using sports games and activities in a month-long program. The structure of this program mirrors our Power Golf Academy somewhat, offering stations that students visit for short periods of time before rotating to the next exercise, drill or activity. Development is based on agility, mobility and speed and it helps middle- and high schoolers reach their scholastic golfing goals. This is done in April as a spring training tune up.
Just like in traditional golf player development programming, offering something for everyone is the key to helping all your customers, regardless of age, skill level or body type.