Duke Medicine HealthLine
Published: May 15, 2008
Updated: Apr. 22, 2010
Duke Integrated Golf
Every golfer has his own swing -- and his own slice, says Duke physical therapist Eric Hegedus.
“Everybody swings at the ball differently,” he says, and what determines how we swing the club is mostly our biomechanics.
Say, for example, that you have stiffness in your back -- and that you’re a man in your 50s or 60s, who isn’t fond of stretching or yoga. This man, says Hegedus, “can’t rotate his upper body well -- that’s a key component of the swing. So his swings are going to be very upright and mostly with his arms,” which is the perfect recipe for a poor game.
“We can teach that person all the techniques we want, and show him thousands of pictures of Ernie Ells and Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam. But if he’s stiff, he’ll never swing the way he wants to.”
Hegedus says Duke’s new Integrated Golf Program can help this too-tight golfer in two ways. “First, we figure out the best swing that works with his current limitations,” says Hegedus, “and second, we work to eliminate those limitations.”
He and PGA master golf professional Ed Bargain then combine instruction on golfing technique with health and wellness education, in order to improve a player’s physical ability to play his or her game of choice.
“I work with our clients on aerobic exercise, flexibility, strengthening, and manual therapy, so that their biomechanics improve and their swing creeps a little bit closer to the ideal.” As their physical limitations improve, their technique grows with them.
The Integrated Golf Program works with recreational and pro golfers alike. In addition to working with Hegedus and Bargain, clients can team up with Duke sports psychologist Richard Keefe, PhD, author of On the Sweet Spot: Stalking the Effortless Present, who helps them mentally prepare for a broad range of challenges -- from winning club championships to playing in the Masters Tournament.
“The program is a whole-person evaluation and instruction package,” says Hegedus, which means that all golfers get an experience that’s tailored to meet their individual needs and goals. “It’s as much about promoting your health and wellness as it is about helping you play your best game.”