October 24, 2011

Interview With Susan Hill

Please take a moment to learn more about the background of Fitness For Golf.

We were hoping to learn more about Fitness For Golf including how it got started and what you hope to achieve with your website. There are not currently many websites, books, or other information on golf specific training. We are anxious to learn about your approach to golf training and why it is different than other fitness avenues presented in today’s golf environment.


Question: Why the need for Fitness for Golf?

Susan: Fitness for Golf was born out of my expertise as a trainer and my love of golf. For me, it was a very natural fit. I remember hearing so many years ago that if you could combine your favorite hobby and actually make a career out of it, you’d be one lucky person. I had been training for years and then golfing on weekends when I wasn’t working. While my training career was excelling, my golf game was not. I never seemed to get any better, despite my love and interest. I had tried golf lessons from time to time, gathered new books, and played as much as I could. I had good games and bad, but again, no significant changes in my handicap. I continued to talk to other golfers about their similar frustration. I began taking as many courses as I could in golf training, injury management and prevention, core and posture assessment, restoring flexibility and other related courses. I became officially certified as a golf trainer and it helped me to better understand the specific body motions and sequence of muscles firing to create the optimal swing. What I realized is this information which is not readily available to the average golfer, coincidentally, is critical to their ultimate success. Once I began applying the principles I learned through my educational courses, my handicap dropped 7 strokes in one season. Now I feel an obligation of sorts, and a sincere and passionate interest in sharing this information to other golfers so they may see similar or better results.

Question: Can you tell us a little about your approach to golf fitness training?

Susan: I learned from some famous sports conditioning coaches in the country that if you take an athlete and rebuild him/her from their weakest link up, you will have a new, better performing athlete. It is extremely important to know exactly what physical limitations or restrictions a person has prior to beginning any program or conditioning. So, the first step is always an extensive assessment period where I look at the golfer’s body in the context of flexibility or lack there of, stability, strength, rotational ability, etc. Fitness for Golf is set up the same way where golfer’s can perform self tests at all levels including muscle strength, range of motion, core strength, power, aerobic endurance, balance and other critical areas. Once we’ve determined their relative strengths and weaknesses, we’ll make specific recommendations on the areas most likely to show dramatic golf performance improvement. This is a very important concept and is widely misunderstood by golfer’s seeking a fitness program. So many golfers come to me and ask to get a few exercises which will improve their game. If I simply give them a few of my favorite exercises without any assessment period I could be endangering their game, not helping. A perfect example of this is if I gave some aggressive medicine ball rotational exercises to a golfer with low back restrictions. It is critically important that you solve any physical restrictions prior to strength training and you will see a noticeable improvement in your scores.

Question: Tell us a little about the continuum you follow for improving golf performance.

Susan: Restoring optimal functionality in your body should always be a golfer’s first concern. This means creating muscular balance, repairing postural distortions, increasing postural stability, learning proper engagement of the core, etc. It always surprises me when I see a golfer overly concerned about creating power in his swing when he/she has tight shoulders or a back injury. It is not possible to get to this level until normal functionality in the joints is restored.

Question: I understand you spent some time with Mike Weir’s physical conditioning coach last fall. What was that like?

Susan: It was incredible. The Chek Institute is a highly respected performance enhancement center in Southern California. In addition to Mike Weir, they train many high level athletes from a variety of sports. They have had tremendous success with Mike and it shows in his consistent golf performance and top finishes while on tour. I learned many specific training ideas that the highest level golfers are performing today. This is what Fitness For Golf is all about…bringing you the exercises of the pros but in the convenience of your own home.

Question: How is this type of training different than other types of golf training?

Susan: I have talked with many personal trainers who work with golfers and I’ve also read many articles published on the same subject. Most trainers follow the logic that they need to strength train their golfers one body part at a time. Their rationale is that if the golfer has stronger legs then they will be able to hold their body position longer and more comfortably while in their golf stance. While this is fine in theory, more innovative approaches to golf fitness include functional training. Functional training describes exercises which most closely mimic the movement patterns of the sport you are playing. So, for golf, one must always be standing while performing exercises as in golf, as opposed to sitting on a machine. Another example is training the torso in a rotational fashion as opposed to simply developing the abdominal muscles.

Question: What do you hope to accomplish with Fitness For Golf?

Susan: Once I learned and applied the principles to myself and saw a 7 stroke difference in my handicap in one season, I knew I had to share this with my fellow golfers. As a competitor myself, I’ve always felt the way to get better is to find the best people in any given sport or industry and find out what they’re doing. Learn from the best and you’ll be the best. I have followed many training principles that Annika has used in her training as well as Mike Weir and Tiger Woods. I know they have access to the best people money can buy. The only problem is that most of us can’t afford it or don’t have the type of connections to track down this information. It is now my mission to bring this amazing information that is being utilized among the top tier golfers for the betterment of the rest of us and at an affordable price.

Question: Are you after a particular type of golfer through your site?

Susan: Any golfer who is seeking improvement will find numerous benefits on my site. This includes men and women of all ages and abilities. While this site can appeal to any level of golfer, yes, even golf professionals, it is important that you perform the individual analysis section. (Assessments) This section is critically important so I may personalize your program to best meet your needs.

Question: How many golfers have you worked with to date?

Susan: I’m not sure how to best answer this other than to say it’s in the hundreds. I have run assessments on more golfers of varying levels than I can count. While I have worked with high handicap golfers and professionals, I have yet to meet anyone who does not have a physical limitation of some kind which has an impact on their swing. I have also learned something very important about golfers. High handicap golfers tend to have more issues to work around while I usually only come up with one or two things with a single digit handicap golfer. Ironically, those one or two restrictions in a single digit player can unleash a whole new level of play. I have seen this happen over and over again.

Question: Where do you think golfers will find the most benefit from your site?

Susan: I want golfers to find all the answers to the golf swing and successful performance on my site. I will continue to bring the best talent that the golf industry has to offer. This means professionals on mental training, physical preparation, and technical advice. These concepts must go together to advance and complete the golfer. I want golfers to be able to know they can count on the most current advice available today to prevent and/or manage golf injuries, learn innovative training methods, consider new ideas and concepts on technical training. I expect any golfer who uses this site to become lean and fit for golf, show dramatic and consistent improvement in their game and play at this level without injury. Of course, this means the golfer must still do the work. The body is far too important to be ignored.

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