by Paul J. Pickett
I didn’t grow up a fan of golf, but it’s grown on me lately. So if you love to play golf or if you know someone who does, this blog’s for you.
The last few days I’ve been perusing www.MyTPI.com. It’s the largest collection of golf-specific health and fitness information from the world’s leading experts in the game. The site is the online home of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) – "The leaders in elite player development." If you’re a fan of golf, you know who TPI is. But for the rest of us, I think it’s easy to read the word "elite" and think they’re just for pro golfers, but that’s not completely accurate: they’re for anyone who wants to improve their game. Since I’m not a professional golfer (not even close), I like that. And what I especially like about them is how they utilize technology in helping their clients.
Recently I had a chance to pick the brain of TPI’s video-guru (his actual title is "New Media Artist."), Joe Hafera. Unlike me, Joe has a long history with the game of golf – he’s a lifer. He grew up as a player and student of the game with his father, PGA Instructor, John Hafera, and now he’s helping to capture and duplicate the efforts of TPI to help other golfers maximize their potential.
Paul: So Joe, for someone who’s not familiar with TPI, tell us what the TPI team is all about.
Joe: It’s a hard concept to say concisely, so I can’t, but here is the closest I can do: At TPI, we don’t believe there is one perfect swing style or form. To compare this to baseball, Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente and Cal Ripken’s swing styles were different, but each could deliver consistently efficient swings. We like to call that efficient bio-mechanic action, "cracking the whip". Each player had a different swing, but each could crack the whip. It’s the same idea in golf. From the best player in the world to the local weekend warrior, you have only one way to swing efficiently, and it’s based on what your body can do. TPI’s goal is to help players create their efficient swing.
Paul: That makes sense. You help to identify what’s holding back a player’s swing. So what are some of the limitations you help players to overcome?
Joe: After years of research on the best players in the world, we’ve gone beyond mechanics to find what physically may be limiting them from efficiently cracking the whip. A limitation could be balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, stamina or a combination.
Paul: OK. So what makes your service different than what a non-TPI certified instructor or trainer would provide?
Joe: We are a data collection and analysis facility as much as we are a training facility. The coupling of the two is where we make a difference.
Paul: So you’re part researcher, part analyzer and part practitioner. Sounds like you really dig deep.
Joe: Exactly. Similar to the way in which a patient would want a physician to perform a physical exam, x-ray, MRI, and possibly a consultation with a specialty doctor before diagnosing the problem and the course of action for a cure, we don’t believe a swing can be improved with little or no data. We like to gather as much data as possible before beginning to diagnose a solution for a golfer.
TPI staff performs physical screens, video swing analysis (our x-ray) and 3D motion capture swing analysis (our MRI). Once we collect the data, we prescribe a physical workout plan that will eliminate physical restrictions and imbalances that directly affect performance on the course.
Paul: So talk a little bit about your area of expertise, video production, and how that makes The DIFF for your clients.
Joe: The TPI DIFF is that our players have access to the best golf fitness video library in the world. Over one thousand drills and exercises can be prescribed to a player’s account, printed, viewed and downloaded to a video iPod to take to the gym or course. And where the DIFF runs deep is our TPI certification seminars. We’re traveling the world and certifying the best fitness, golf and medical professionals to perform the same screens and prescribe workouts from our database so everyone can improve their golf swing and feel better physically. Literally, our certified trainers and their amateur clients have access to the same training library as our professional players.
Paul: OK, Joe. You’ve talked a good game, but can you show me it works?
Joe: Proof the model works?
Paul: Yeah, proof the model works…can you make me a believer?
Joe: Our seminars are sold out 6 months in advance, and our MyTPI.com membership goal for 2008 was surpassed in December, 2007. Further proof can be found in our players: Zach Johnson (2007 Masters Champion), Padraig Harrington (2007 British Open Champion) to name a few. Our name is Titleist Performance Institute and our game is golf–our difference is the way we make golfers and golf training better.
Paul: Wow. So do you think TPI can help me be as good as Tiger Woods or Zach Johnson?
Joe: Paul, I hear this question often, and the answer lies within your goals and your dedication, like anything else in life. If you set a goal and are serious about achieving it, anything is possible. Not many imagined Zach Johnson would have won the Masters. Zach did, and that’s the DIFF. TPI can be a small part of a great achievement, but once we’ve done our job, it’s up to you, my man.
Well there it is folks. If you are serious about improving your golf game or if you know someone who is, now we know TPI is The DIFF. The rest is up to us!