Improving one’s golf game used to be for many a fairly one dimensional approach — usually engaging an instructor to fix one’s swing. No longer. The approach in vogue today is far more comprehensive — intersecting a range of disciplines. In 2013, Golf & Body, opened in midtown Manhattan. The New York-based location weaves together several different approaches but all united together in maximizing skills for golfers. Flexibility, strength and endurance are part of a systematic approach that are rigorously monitored and evaluated. With each golfer being uniquely individualistic in terms of their capabilities the wherewithal to tailor specific remedies that fit that individual is now the preferred course of action.
The program at Golf & Body engages experts in different key areas — all working in tandem so that a comprehensive game plan is created that provides a clear and define path to improvement. Three of the key players agreed to share their thoughts on the process used works.
Dr. Bradley Borne
Director of Sports Medicine and Wellness
Golf & Body NYC
“I took up golf in college and completely fell in love with every aspect of it. I loved being outside and I loved the camaraderie and time spent with my family and friends. After a few years of work in Aspen, CO, I met David Darbyshire, who had just moved there, and was Adam Scott’s movement specialist. He helped me realize I could combine two of my passions — sports medicine and golf. Now, my focus is on injury prevention and longevity. I want to help more people who love the game like I do, play as much golf as they want.”Borne, 42, is a sports medicine therapist specializing in a comprehensive approach to health focusing on improved performance, injury prevention and overall wellness strategies. Bradley consults with some of the nation’s top doctors, golf instructors and golf clubs to help high-performing clients reach their golf, health and fitness goals.
Director of Golf
Golf & Body NYC
Ostrowski, 33, was recently selected by Golf Digest as one of the “Best Young Teachers in America” and is one of the first 20 certified TrackMan Master instructors in the US. Works with fitness and medical professionals to tailor specific swing styles for his student’s optimal movement patterns.
“At 14 years old I wanted to start playing golf. Probably because of Tiger Woods making golf cool but I only watched a few holes of his win at the ’97 Masters. My parents would drop me off at the golf course and pick me up after they finished work. I hit on the range, played putting games with the other kids at the course and played so much golf that I knew the course like the back of my hand. Four years later I was playing college golf and after graduation I started my career in the golf industry.
A turning point in my personal development in the game came when the 2002 US Open was at Bethpage Black. I was at that tournament every day, it fascinated me that these golfers who reached, at what I thought was the pinnacle of golf all didn’t swing the club the same way. I was intrigued that certain players preferred a draw while others may have hit a fade. I wanted to know how they did that. From this point I knew I wanted to teach people how to play better golf and ultimately help those golfers who were playing inside the ropes achieve their goals.”
Director of Fitness
Golf & Body NYC
Adams, 41, has been with Golf & Body NYC from the start and instrumental in its growth and development. Kirk is passionate about helping golfers perform at a high level on and off the course. A sought after speaker, writer, and educator, he consults with amateur and professional players around the world.
“I’ve led two parallel lives in the world of golf. The first is my personal playing career. I was introduced to the game at a young age by my dad. I was fortunate to grow up near a public course that I could play often. I took to the game fairly easily and played well for my high school team, but not well enough to play much beyond that. When I began my career as a strength & conditioning coach at Penn State, I was fortunate to work with the golf teams. I began to learn what physically made those athletes successful at the game and what different qualities they needed to be successful than the other athletes I was working with.
My love of golf and fitness brought me to Golf & Body. Here I’ve learned so much more about the game and what it takes physically to play at the highest level. I feel fortunate to have access to some of the best technology, professionals and players in the world which not only helps me play better, but better allows me to help our members reach their goals.”
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Borne: I’d like to bring the resources that we have at Golf & Body to others. Not the technology, but the team approach and the information. Many golfers could be playing better golf and be in less pain if they had the right tools.
Ostrowski: To never stop learning and getting better at what I do. I’ve been teaching for close to 10 years and every day is a new learning experience. I’ve used the resources provided to me by Golf & Body to grow, read a ton of material on mechanics and watched countless swing videos on YouTube. I’ve connected with different PTs and sports psychologists to understand how the body moves and how to think your way through the golf course. My constant learning helps me provide the best learning experience for my students and keeps my lessons fresh, that’s why I believe most of my clients have trusted me with their golf games for years.
Adams: Empowering and educating people. Most people hire a personal trainer for direction and accountability. Maybe they don’t look or feel as good as they’d like to and they’d like to shoot lower scores. My goal is to guide people through all the confusing information about fitness so they can become the person they envision. Most people know what they should be doing, but find it hard to prioritize it into their life. If I can help them do that and be confident about diet and exercise, that can translate to confidence on the course and every area of their life.
The approach at Golf & Body is a collaborative one — what was the genesis for that and how have things evolved since?
Ostrowski: The Golf & Body experience was created to give golfers the ability to improve performance and enjoy the game for a lifetime through our unique team approach. Our evaluation processes have evolved. The technology we use to evaluate our members have changed. But the biggest benefit to our members has been how we’ve always sought out the best way to communicate as a team. We’ve been using an app called CoachNow for a couple years, this gives us the ability to stay involved with our member, track progress towards their goals and stay in constant communication with our members.
In recent years — there’s been a major shift in how different dimensions are incorporated into the golf learning environment. How does Golf & Body go beyond what others attempt to do?
Borne: We have always been open to ideas that could help our members. The fact that we have full time sports medicine and wellness speaks to that. We started with the three pillars of wellness, fitness, and golf. Many places have golf instruction, fewer have fitness, and even fewer wellness, but the biggest difference at Golf & Body NYC is the importance placed on all three and the collaboration that exists.
Kirk, generally how fit or not fit are the men and women who come to Golf & Body — in rough percentage terms? How do you measure someone’s actual fitness?
Adams: Most of our members join after spending several years more focused on career and family then their health and fitness. Over that time, a reduction in activity has caused them to lose strength and mobility and maybe gain a few pounds, aches and pains. In general, the men are not mobile enough, and the women are not strong enough, to play as well as they’d like.
Fitness for golf can be broken down into a few key areas – mobility, strength, power and endurance. We assess each of those areas when a member joins, and periodically throughout the year, to see if any of them are holding the member back. This assessment allows us to prioritize each component of fitness and prescribe exercises to take the member from where they are to where they’d like to be based on their goals.
Brad, you focus on sports medicine and wellness — what’s different now versus the approach taken just a few years ago?
Borne: People are more proactive in their approach to wellness now. The shift is more about performance and longevity. Recovery strategies like cryotherapy, yoga, and meditation will continue to be a big part of golf.
Joe, the golf swing has been analyzed with various remedies offered — with the varying students you see what approaches do you use that have produced the most success?
Ostrowski: Assessing our students mobility, stability and movement patterns then prescribing a swing based on how their body performs has provided the most success for us here at G&BNYC. For example if a student has limited range of motion in their shoulder they may not be able to achieve certain positions in the backswing or downswing. We then have to make adjustments in their technique to achieve their desired ball flight.
How do you each measure student / member progress?
Adams: There are four (4) different ways that I monitor member progress. The first, and most important, is are they progressing towards the goals they are trying to achieve? The second is awareness. Are they aware that the interaction of exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management all have a profound effect on how they look, feel and play? The third is participation. Consistency is so important. I would like to see all of our members get to the gym 2-3 per week to work on strength, power, mobility and endurance. Combine that with eating healthy 80% of the time and getting 7 hours of sleep most nights and most people would be healthy and fit enough to play great golf. The final way is objective measures of progress.
To play your best, there are certain levels of fitness that are necessary. For example, your legs need to be able to produce a certain amount of strength and power, your shoulders need to be able to rotate this much and you need this much club head speed. Are we there yet? If not, how close are we and are we moving in a positive direction?
Ostrowski: We utilize various technologies including TrackMan, Swing Catalyst, Gears and Sam PuttLab. When I created the golf evaluation testing through TrackMan the goal was to create an informative baseline and to have the option to test rather quickly in a lesson to show improvement. For example, our ‘Approach Test’ tests iron shots from 120-180 yards and can be completed in less than 10 minutes.
Borne: Mobility is the key for my area. Are they able to get to the ranges that the golf pro needs and also what they need for daily activities. We have 13 key performance indicators that we have chosen to assess. We reassess every 4-6 weeks.
If each of you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
Borne: I’m in favor of most things that increase pace of play.
Ostrowski: Get rid of the idea that the most aesthetically pleasing swing is always going to cause the best results. That swing might work for some people but others may not be physically capable. There are so many different ways to swing a golf club and produce your desired shot shape.
Adams: Golf needs to become more inclusive. Access to many courses, and sometimes the game itself, is still often determined by your financial status, who you know, or your race, rather than your ability to play the game. If the game is going to thrive, I think that needs to improve.
The major organizations in golf — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA — are all seeking ways to grow the game. This is especially so with Millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them — what you advise be done?
Ostrowski: Build initiatives that get people to the course. TopGolf gets a golf club in people’s hands but how do we transfer them to the course? Encourage golf courses to have 6 hole rates and build more family friendly tee boxes with no forced carries.
Adams: Find a way for the game to appear more exciting and fun. I think golf suffers from many of the same problems baseball does. It is seen as slow, boring, stuck in the past and governed by unwritten rules no one understands. Golf needs to find a balance between traditions like The Masters and the excitement of the 16th at the Waste Management Open. Try different tournament formats. Play more tournaments on public courses.
Borne: I’d love to see more public driving ranges/short game practice areas. Friends of mine are incorporating this idea with a fitness facility in St. Louis. Combining golf with fitness is a great idea. Also, here at Golf & Body NYC, we have no dress code. I think golf needs to be less formal.
Given your respective expertise what key questions should those contemplating using your services ask when coming to Golf & Body?
Ostrowski: How much time can you devote to making your game better? Everyone always wants that one tip that will make them better but it isn’t that simple. Being able to set aside some time during the week to practice what you and your coach are working on will pay dividends in the long run.
Borne: What are my goals? Where am I now? What resources do I need to reach my goals? Who can help me? I try to think about where I can make the greatest impact with a client in the quickest time frame or least amount of effort. Get some early confidence and gain their trust. Then, you just support them.
Adams: What do I need to do to maximize my health? What physically is keeping me from playing to the best of my ability? What can I do to maximize my ability to play this game throughout my entire life? How can I be more consistent with my diet and exercise despite the challenges in my typical schedule? How can I make diet, exercise, sleep and stress management a bigger priority in my life? Joining Golf & Body was step 1. What is step 2 to reaching my fitness and golf goals?