Justin Kraft, the 2022 Minnesota PGA Section Youth Player Development Award Winner, is the PGA Director of Instruction at Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minnesota.
I took on the PGA Director of Instruction role at Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minnesota barely one month ago, but have long promoted the merits of golf fitness at my previous club in the Minnesota PGA Section.
After implementing a speed training program last year, and seeing some positive results among my previous membership, I tweaked the program a bit this past winter and engaged a few golfers from a nearby college, as well as our members.
With my new club being a “golf club,” our members are die-hard golfers – so anything that improves their golf games will most certainly be embraced. Anytime you market a program with “added distance off the tee,” the odds are it will be a success. I look forward to utilizing my TPI certification at Spring Hill to introduce golf fitness to a whole new group of golfers. After all, I believe that you need an understanding of the body’s effect on the golf swing to be a premier instructor.
The speed training program, for instance, is a great introductory program that establishes the concept of game improvement through fitness and not just via the traditional golf lesson on the range. We kicked off the program with a TPI screen of each participant, testing their strength in three different places to determine where their deficiencies were most prevalent.
The program as we ran it this winter was two sessions per week. One 30-minute session was with me, swinging a Rypstick speed training tool and working on mechanical aspects of the golf swing that add speed and distance. The other 30-minute session was with one of our fitness professionals in our fitness center, targeting areas like stability, mobility, flexibility and strength.
This program is an effective way to marry the golf and fitness aspects of player development and incorporate professionals from both teams as well. It’s important to me to understand what my students can and cannot do within the golf swing, and my plan as I move into this new role is to utilize my TPI background to assess their swing. Based on their level of commitment to focusing on their body, as well as their swing, I’ll prescribe an appropriate level of fitness exercises within their game improvement program based on a TPI physical screen. Some golfers remain resistant to implementing any aspect of fitness into their practice, but I will always emphasize the importance of the body-swing connection and stretching at the very least.
Spring Hill Golf Club has a world-class teaching facility (pictured below) on the range with three heated TrackMan hitting bays equipped with BodiTrak, video analysis software with tour swing comparison and garage doors that open up to the range when our unpredictable Minnesota weather allows.
Diving into it this spring, I’ll start my lessons with an assessment, as I mentioned. I’ll also spread golf fitness awareness through personal engagement with members in the form of fireside chats and meet and greets. I’ll promote the speed training program as a way of gaining 5-10 percent more clubhead speed, but will have to amend it again, as we don’t currently have a fitness team on staff. With my fitness certification and experience, I look forward to being the first chess piece in hopefully incorporating a more fitness-minded approach to player development and health and wellness, educating others on the benefits to members, as well as the club itself.
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