Want to get golf fit for 2020? We spoke to Kasia Ferenczuk of Golf Fitness Ireland
Updated: Jan 3
What came first your love of golf or fitness?
First was fitness. It all started with running, then yoga and Pilates which then progressed to triathlons. To maintain my performance levels and give attention to ‘neglected’ muscles, I also used to go to the gym 3-5 times a week. The gym also enhanced my power and speed. Then I discovered rowing and nearly at same time I was introduced to Golf.
Golf is very complex and is totally different to other sports, as it is very technical. When I hit my first good drive I knew… I loved it! When you play golf you completely focus and nothing else exists, you are totally in the here and now. Before you hit your shot you align yourself to target then get into your posture, do a practice swing and then you go. Even if you had a bad shot you forget about it and you move on to the next one. All that really benefited my life as I learned to be more patient and forgive my mistakes, and not be so hard on myself if something goes wrong or doesn’t work out. There will be another chance, just move on.
How did you get into golf? how often do you get to play? and how good are you?
My friend gave me some old golf clubs, and I went to the driving range. It felt so different to other sports, and I decided to give it a go and take lessons to see how I would get on. I met so many people and made loads of friends because of golf. I really like social aspect of it! Last year I joined local club and started to learn rules and playing with other people. I try to play at least once a week and go to the driving range at least once a week. It will take me years to be good, but I think the work is worth it.
You are a TPI Titleist qualified instructor what does that mean? And you must be very proud to have achieved that.
I am Yoga and Pilates instructor, I also Teach Aerial Yoga Teacher Trainings, and work as a Therapist. I was fascinated by the mechanics in golf and how the quality of movement affects the golf performance, and that brought me to what I am doing now.
Before I did TPI training I had golfers coming to me with injuries (golfers and tennis elbows, lower back pain etc.) or to write Yoga/Pilates sequences to improve mobility/stability. So I decided to do TPI. TPI stands for: Titleist performance institute, they are based in California, US and have developed a program to train Golf Professionals in Fitness and Medical fields. I have done Fitness and I’m just finishing the Medical Program with them.
I am a Titleist Performance Institute certified Expert which means I am trained to see the correlation between a golfer’s physical limitations and their swing flaws, then I can prescribe science-based conditioning program tailored to the player.
What is the first thing people usually want to achieve when they come to see you?
Most golfers are looking to improve flexibility. After the TPI screening has been done, the findings usually are a lack of mobility in certain joints (restriction in soft tissues, joint capsules or motor control) not the muscles it self to stretch (flexibility) . Many people also struggle with stability and balance. For example, lack of stability in the pelvis will affect mobility in the joint above (thoracic spine) also the joint below (hip joint). That will affect the golf swing and a certain amount of power will be lost during the swing.
What would you say is the number one thing female golfers could all improve in the gym or by working out?
A correct gym regime or home workout will increase your muscle mass. In general, women have more joint and ligament laxity which means we are more flexible than men. But we are struggling to generate higher club speeds as we have lower muscle mass and less stability than men. Increasing the muscle mass ratio will help to increase strength, gain power, increase stamina, prevent injuries and boost our metabolism (aiding weight loss) and immune systems. And most importantly - resistance training improves bone density which means it can help protect your bones (prevent bone loss - or even can help build new bone) and prevent osteoporosis-related fractures
Is flexibility or muscle mass more important for a golfer?
It all depends of the sex and personal abilities. Lets look at women first:
Hormones are affecting our golf game and fitness regime. How? Basically there are windows where we become hypermobile and hypo mobile true are cycle (estrogen has a relaxing effect on collagen, which is main material of ligaments/tendons, that then affects the joints themselves because they are able to have a bit more range of movement.). That means we have windows where strength and stability training is the best for us and there are times where flexibility and mobility exercises will benefit us the most and keep us injury free.
Whereas men have a higher ratio of muscle mass to body weight, which allows for greater speed and acceleration. Men are built with a more solid bone structure with bigger muscles and tendons so the force keeping these joints in place is bigger. That makes them stronger and slightly harder to injure, but also it impedes movement.
How big a part does nutrition play in preparing and during a round of golf? And what items would you recommend for every golfer to take in their bag?
Driving a car without petrol and expecting it to go far is foolish. The same with our bodies. Number one is hydration, when we wakeup we are dehydrated. When we workout/exercise/sweat we loose water. Water lubricates joints, hydrates spinal discs but also increases concentration (badly needed in golf!).
Another factor which can affect a performance is blood sugar. We have to be able got control it to avoid fatigue, loss of power/strength, anxiety and mood swings. I would recommend eating a complete meal before playing round of golf. A complete meal will include Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates (medium GI and Low GI).
As we have established correct blood sugar level with our pre-round meal, during the game we will need to maintain that by eating every 4 holes, small snacks (Beef Jerky, Nuts/Seeds, berries or yogurt) are ideal. And one more time water, with pinch of pink salt (electrolytes).
What 5-10 minute routine would recommend every golfer do before playing and why is it important?
Before leaving the house to go to the golf course or driving range I have little sequence which helps to mobilize all joints. I always start with bringing my spine to all plains: spinal movement flexion, extensions, side bends and rotations. Then I work on sequencing, I rotate my hip joints, mobilize ankle joints, shoulders and neck and a few balancing exercises just to get my muscle memory back and prevent injuries. You have to remember golf is a complex sport and there is a lot happening through the swing. It is sensible to warm the body up first instead of taking a chance of getting injured.
If you were to give some guidance to young golfers who are looking to add physical exercise into their golf game what you recommend they start with?
I would highly recommend to get TPI expert to do a postural evaluation. They need a program tailored to swing characteristics, movement quality and limitations.
One top tip for getting more women to work out?
It is proven that a workout will improve your golf performance. Look at elite golfers Like Adam Scott, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler. They are really big into their fitness. If you improve the quality of your movement, the more likely you will enjoy moving more often which equals playing more golf!
The main question, can a structured fitness, nutrition, stretching plan improve your golf game?
Totally! If you look at golfers such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, they all have golf fitness specific programs. The correct fitness regime is tailored to the player. One size doesn’t fit all! Absolutely the same with nutrition. The right diet plan will keep players away from the dreaded sugar roller coaster. Keeping concentration and focus on the highest level through the competition is extremely valuable.
So you are currently based in Galway Ireland, have you always been based there?
I am from Poland originally and now based in Galway fulltime. However, that doesn’t stops me travelling and helping my clients nationally or over seas by online coaching.
Do you play any other sports?
I run and also row with two rowing clubs. I love swimming and cycling too. I wouldn’t call Yoga and Pilates sports but I would include them here as they are a really big part of my recovery and my “Posture and Soft Tissue Maintenance program” - they are best injury prevention tool I have in my skill tool box. Also I have 4 sessions in the gym during the week.
Do you have a favorite pro golfer yourself or think any of the pros has the best fitness regime?
I admire Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka. They are truly amazing athletes. They all have unreal performance, are super-fit and very inspiring. Phil Mickelson recently increased his club speed by 6mph by changing his golf fitness regime. This is incredible and totally inspiring what Phil has achieved! Unfortunately the ageing process negatively affects club head speed. But Phil proves that if you have a proper fitness regime and you are determined, you can move the clock back!