The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, March 26, 2020

Golf fitness deep dive — Interview with golf fitness professional Ken Macdonald — Must-click links in women's golf

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Golf Fitness Deep Dive

If being quarantined has done anything to me, it’s made me think a little harder and be a little more creative. I’m putting a different spin on this week’s newsletter to talk about golf fitness.

It’s been quite fascinating following LPGA and PGA Tour professionals to see how they are handling social distancing and not being able to practice/play as much as they are used to. It’s now to the point where golf courses in Florida have to shut down entirely, which means players have even more time on their hands. I have seen a whole lot of love for Peloton, plenty of backyard setups and a handful of makeshift indoor gyms the last couple weeks.

I am no expert in this space—but I can certainly offer up a lot of cool things happening in the industry. There’s really no better time than right now for golf fitness to be the forefront of every golfers mind. If they aren’t moving, they probably aren’t improving. Between Golf Channel, Golf Digest and the PGA, I’ve seen a lot of content on this topic alone. And for the coaches and fitness professionals themselves, they are having to get extra creative these days since they currently can’t train clients in person. The Instagram challenges are rolling deep!

Outside of social media, Golf Channel is one who has its own Golf Fitness Exercises hub, where they pull relevant clips from Golf Channel broadcasts (like Bryson DeChambeau bulking up and whether that’s helped his game or how LPGA/PGA players approach their daily fitness), but they also provide practical fitness tips like stretching using a golf cart or exercises to improve your golf strength.

Golf Digest has a more robust instruction and fitness platform, Golf Digest Schools, that covers everything from full swing lessons, short game and tips from PGA Tour professionals, to consistency, power and fitness itself.

But outside of Instagram challenges and mainstream golf media, and the resources that are accessible through their platforms, there are also golf fitness professionals with their own businesses making waves in the industry—one of them being Ken Macdonald. Ken currently owns and operates Lifetime Performance, which is a golf and tennis specific training studio. He is a level 3 certified golf fitness professional through the Titleist Performance Institute, holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

My understanding of the Titleist Performance Institute (as referenced above) is that it’s essentially the foundation of golf fitness. It’s specifically designed for golf teaching professionals, medical practitioners and fitness trainers. The certification has multiple levels and is an evidence based, educational pathway that teaches industry professionals how to increase player performance through a deep understanding of how the body functions during the golf swing. (via

When you think about fitness as a whole, and fitness across other sports, I don’t feel like training programs have as much depth as the ones in golf do. As a former college basketball player, we obviously had weight training and conditioning outside of regular practices. But outside of simply getting stronger, more explosive and miscellaneous injury prevention exercises, it’s not like we had a program that broke down how the body functions when we shoot the basketball or play defense. You got better by being in the gym getting shots up, not necessarily by being trained.

I find golf fitness so fascinating because there is so much science behind the golf swing alone—technically and physically. There are dozens of gadgets you can buy and use to ‘perfect’ your golf swing, but there’s also so much knowledge out there on what you can be doing to help your swing, without even having a club in your hand! Ken, featured in this week’s interview, will do a much better job at explaining in greater detail what this all entails.

Ken has coached over 15 PGA, LPGA and Senior PGA Tour players in addition to hundreds of mini-tour players and club professionals. (On the tennis side, you might recognize one of the names of his clients: Venus Williams!) It’s no surprise he was recently named to Golf Digest’s list of the 50 Best Golf Fitness Trainers in America. Although the next few months will look pretty different than he’s used to, life hasn’t slowed down. He has brought some really creative ideas to the table to pass the time and is still keeping his players busy. Be sure to give him a follow on Instagram for fitness ideas, fitness content or just to join the fun!

This Week in Women’s Golf

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

New episode of Fairway Tales is live with Isabelle Shee, who started her own sock company—the world’s first planet friendly performance sock.

The LPGA confirms the ANA Inspiration has a new date! And three other events postponed.

COVID-19 has LPGA rookies sweating starts, status and money, writes Golf Channel’s Randall Mell.

From, Anna Nordqvist wins mini tour event while the LPGA season is still on hold.

The LPGA’s Steve Eubanks says Olympic postponement was the right and only call.

Annika Sorenstam’s ceremony at the White House might was delayed, so reflects on a quarter century of her greatness.

Trending on social media: a quick Q&A with Morgan Pressel.

Morgan Pressel pens her thoughts on what it feels like having to ‘stay put.’

Olympic postponement not stopping Aditi Ashok from preparations at another run. More from Golf Channel’s Randall Mell in this feature.

From the New York Times, Coronavirus compounds financial concerns in women’s sports.

Jennifer Kupcho looks back on winning the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur for Yahoo Sports.

World rankings in men’s, women’s golf frozen indefinitely, Golf Channel reports.

How does postponing the Olympics impact golf? Sports Illustrated has more.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Ken Macdonald

I. How did you get started in the golf fitness industry? From 2000-2005 I was playing as professional golfer on the Golden Bear Tour and other various mini tours. I had some minor success but not nearly enough to make it on the PGA tour. At the time I was playing I was working at PGA National in the Health Club. This allowed me to play, practice and use the gym for free.  It was during that time that I really got interested in the body and how it drives motion in the golf swing. I started to do some personal training on limited schedule as I was still playing. When I finally decided that I did’’t want to play anymore, I dove head first into fitness! I started training more and more clients and with my background in golf it became a no brainer to cater the workouts for golfers.  I worked under Randy Myers – who at the time was pioneering golf fitness. This along with the certification the Titleist Performance Institute came out with, allowed me to develop a solid educational background that supported my coaching and gave me some more credibility. Things went quickly from there. I went back to school and completed a Masters Program in Human Movement Science. I also started to hone my skills by working as an exercise assistant at the Physical Therapy Clinic with Brett Richman.  I left PGA in 2011 and opened up my own studio. We have since expanded a few times and work almost exclusively with golfers and tennis players. This past winter I was named as a Top 50 Golf Fitness Instructor by Golf Digest. Interesting how things work out.  I had never lifted a weight until I graduated college in 2000! It was not standard practice back then for golfers.

II. There are a lot of different/varying golf fitness opinions out there – what makes Lifetime Performance different? I think what makes Lifetime standout is the personal touch we apply to everyone’s program. This creates a lot of work on my end as we do not typically use systematized programs with our clients, but honestly I couldn’t do it any other way. We start every client off with a detailed movement assessment. We consult with the swing coach to make sure we are applying the right exercises that conform to what the client is trying to accomplish in their swing. Myself and our staff are very well versed in the many different pathologies/injuries clients may present with. We in turn, program accordingly so as not to exacerbate the underlying problems and with sound progressive exercise selection we can help them return from injury. In the process we like to think we help our clients improve club head speed and performance.  

III. You work with a wide range of clients. What’s the difference between working with a high performing athlete, like an LPGA player, and the average person? Honestly, it all depends on how the person screens. In other words, what did we learn from the movement assessment? Our programs revolve around trying to improve the parts of the body that most help the efficiency of the swing.  An LPGA player and your average weekend golfer might both need more thoracic extension and rotation.  If that is the case, they may end up doing similar exercises to improve that physical quality.  To answer your question, it varies case by case. What we end up typically finding is that the pro golfer typically does much better on a whole during the movement assessment. There is a reason pro golfers play better than amateurs. One of which is their bodies tend to move better i.e. mobility, core control, balance, and coordination). 

IV. If someone in golf wanted to get started on their fitness journey, where would you have them begin? I would tell them to start with a good evaluation. This could be from a physical therapist or a fitness coach. The important thing is they learn what areas need improvement. Building a solid foundation is soooo important when it comes to training. Making sure you have the basics covered (glute activation exercises, hip and thoracic mobility work, movement competency) will allow you to progress in a more progressive nature rather than going right to level 10 in the first session!

V. What kinds of programs are you giving your athletes now that you can’t work with them one on one due to COVID-19? How else are you passing the time in quarantine? Fortunately we have our own app called Lifetime Performance and it can be found and downloaded for free in the app store.  It is full of exercises with videos, pictures and written instructions.  A company named Adalo developed it for me. For years I had been slowly compiling a big exercise library so this was the perfect solution to be able to offer remote training as well.  So basically I have been writing personalized programs for my clients to use on the app.  It has been a tremendous help.  I have also been posting daily workouts in my story on Instagram – @kennymac_lp. I have stayed quite busy working on programs and coming up with other ways to stay entertained.  I started a webcast where I am interviewing some of my clients and contemporaries who have excelled in either their sport, business or in life. It’s fun! Mostly, I am taking care of my 9 month old while my wife works.  Fortunately she has the ability to carry out her job as an attorney from home. 

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon  Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by The IX Team