Golf fitness is a relatively new discipline and it’s interesting that the newly opened Cork Golf Centre has its very own onsite golf gym. The centre which was formerly a stand-alone driving range reopened in April with a refurbished range and teaching room, shop, treatment room and gym. Francis Courtney is behind the gym side of Cork Golf Centre, and the TPI qualified fitness coach is a keen golfer himself. He started playing golf at just 7 years old, thanks to his Dad who was a greenkeeper in Dunloe. He’s currently a category one golfer playing out of his native Killarney. He’s now working alongside PGA Professionals Stephen Hoey, Wayne O’Callaghan and Liam Burns. In addition to the golf and fitness professionals, Cork Golf Centre also has an on-site physical therapist and also has access to a performance coach. Neil O’Brien has also joined the CGC team as a performance coach, O’Brien has over two decades of experience and has worked with Ryder Cup and Walker Cup stars, in addition to many of Ireland’s top companies.
Francis has just completed his third year in UCC and will be working full time in the busy Ballincollig site. His focus on golf fitness really developed from time he spent time as a caddy on the European Tour. “I was caddy to European Tour Golfer Robert Dinwiddie” explained Francis, “and learned how the elite players prepare their bodies and golf games for intense Tour playing schedules. While attending European Tour Physio Shane Lawlor I learned about the physical problems these great players encounter playing on tour and how to tailor a player’s training to avoid these issues. I suffered greatly myself from back pain issues since the age of 16 which affected me playing golf and through working on my own limitations I am now able to play pain free which is something that I hope to help my clients can achieve also.” Combining work with his college commitments, Frances has been learning on the job for several years, and he can see first-hand how the golf specific fitness programmes fit into an overall improvement plan for golfers. I believe in working with clients to help identify and achieve their specific goals while improving their physical wellbeing and helping them understand the body-swing connection” says Francis. “From here each client will be in a greater position to work with a PGA Professional and establish a golf swing which suits the physical capabilities of the individual.
The customised gym in Cork Golf Centre is small in size, but is fully equipped and perfect for individuals or small groups as It is perfect for one-to-one training and this ensures the client is receiving my attention throughout the session while having their own training space in my gym. The equipment enables all exercises, from bodyweight training to power lifting. This allows me to suit the needs of each individual coming into the gym.” There’s an extensive collection of equipment in the gym, from standard medicine balls, free weights and swiss balls, to specialised cable machines and deadlift bars. There’s also plyometric boxes and battle ropes on hand to vary the training for clients. Like virtually all other members of the small golf fitness community, Francis signed up to the Titliest Performance Institute fitness programme, a leading worldwide programme. Since its inception in 2003, TPI has studied thousands of golfers ranging from the top professional Tour players to weekend enthusiasts. An incredible amount of data on players of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels has been gathered during this time. Using this data, they discovered how a properly functioning body allows a player to swing a golf club in the most efficient way possible. Additionally, TPI has analysed how physical limitations in a player’s body can adversely affect the golf swing and potentially lead to injury.
Courtney’s own TPI training started around three years ago. “I travelled to Stockholm to begin my TPI training and had the great pleasure of meeting TPI co-founder Dave Philips and TPI Performance Director Lance Gill who gave me tremendous insights into the world of Golf Fitness” said Francis. “I became Titleist Performance Institute Certified in late 2014 and have worked with some great coaches since. I believe in working with golfers to help them understand the body-swing connection. TPI training shows how a properly functioning body allows a player to swing a golf club in the most efficient way possible. I have seen how physical limitations in a player’s body can adversely affect the golf swing and potentially lead to injury. By finding these limitations through completing a TPI Screening, a player’s program can be designed and they can begin working on these issues.” Francis has a simple philosophy when it comes to golf fitness and mobility: “For each golfer there is one efficient way for every player to swing and it is based on what they can physically do. To achieve an efficient swing, golfers can complete a TPI screening to identify their physical limitations that may be resulting in pain, inefficiency, and/or inconsistency in their golf swing. The TPI screen involves an assessment of swing mechanics, physical fitness, movement quality, current health and a client history. The screen results are then used to create a plan unique for that golfer. I work with clients through whichever means suit the individual, some people prefer to do weekly sessions whereas others prefer to work on the programme and return every 2-3 weeks for a progress update.”