CLUB professionals do not have to be mind-readers to know the answer they can expect when they ask a prospective customer: “What are you looking for from new clubs?”
Ninety-nine per cent of people will respond: “More distance” – and the other one per cent will be either liars or Dustin Johnson.
The belief that purchasing new equipment will equate to hitting longer shots is one that leads many a golfer to buy more clubs than at which they can shake – well, a golf club.
Regular advances in technology help fuel the average player’s desire to hit the ball further and do, at times, go some way to meeting that lust.
But no matter how often you change your clubs, the person swinging remains the same – unless, that is, you are one of the growing band of players looking to improve your body in order to improve your game.
Players like the clients of Rachael Tibbs, a personal trainer specialising in golf who is based at Oulton Hall, in Leeds, and whose clientele ranges from European Tour professional Chris Hanson, from Huddersfield, to elderly amateurs.
Woodsome Hall’s Hanson started working with Tibbs while a Challenge Tour player and has added 20 yards to his drives, as well as improving his overall conditioning, and retained his playing card last year in his first full season on the European Tour.
But a statistic that will undoubtedly grab the amateur’s attention is that a client of Tibbs, who is in his mid-sixties, increased his average length off the tee by 40 yards after working with her for around nine months.
Tibbs makes no claim to being a golfing alchemist; a level 3 Personal Trainer, she is also a Titleist Performance Institute certified Level 1 and Level 2 Golf Fitness Professional, and a Level 3 Strength and Conditioning Coach.
She can clearly practise what she preaches for she is also a single-figure golfer who has played in the Yorkshire ladies amateur championship and won many trophies at clubs such as Willow Valley and Howley Hall.
On meeting her, the first thing she stresses is that she is not an alternative to achieving golfing improvement through having lessons with a certified golf professional, but an effective adjunct.
“Technique-wise, you obviously need to go and see a teaching professional and get lessons,” says the 34-year-old. “But to get increased clubhead speed you need a certain level of strength to actually generate a fair amount of force.
“The more force you can generate with movement or muscle then the more you can transfer into the golf swing, but if you haven’t got baseline strength you are going to struggle to do that.
“So many people think that the swing is with the arms when it is with the rotation of the body.”
Tibbs tailors programmes to meet the specific needs of the individual, which vary according to their starting point in terms of strength and fitness as well as their ultimate objective.
“With people like Chris Hanson, it is a question of needing to make marginal gains at his level because the guys on Tour are hitting it so long nowadays, people like Rory McIlroy and Jason Day,” says Tibbs.
“Chris has been working on his sequencing, but obviously we’ve had to get that mobility and strength there, which is why he came on board.
“Then I have people like my eldest client; he is 66 and he’s put on 40 yards with his driver over the winter. He has been training for probably nine or 10 months and does it a couple of times a week.
“He is not doing a massive amount of strength work, we are just getting to improve his movement. We have improved his mobility in his shoulders so obviously that gets him into a better position in his swing.
“He probably has a lesson about once every six to eight weeks, just to keep an eye on his swing, but he is moving better, and getting a little bit stronger means he is so much more solid with his driver and his irons.”
Prospective clients answer questions about their general health before being taken into the gym for an initial session involving a series of tests that allows Tibbs to formulate a bespoke programme.
It can extend beyond the confines of the gym to include advice on rest, recovery and nutrition, if that is the client’s wish.
“If that is what people want then it’s there,” says Tibbs, “and if not then they can just bear it in mind.
“I think it is only now that personal fitness is starting to become an area that people look at in golf because they see the Tour professionals doing it; the likes of Rory McIlroy and Jason Day are seen more as athletes nowadays than just golfers.”
Tibbs is also concerned with players’ longevity and sees increased mobility and strength as a way of enabling people to play for as long as they wish.
“Golf people can play in their sixties, seventies, eighties even so it is not just about getting stronger or fitter, but also allowing you to play for a bit longer,” she says.
“I get people coming to see me who are probably mid-fifties, quite sedentary at work, sat at a desk all day and then playing golf at the weekend.
“They get back and elbow injuries and it is just helping them play without that as well.
“That is why I like to sit down and discuss what an individual is looking for at the beginning because there is a whole spectrum of requirements to be considered.”
You can contact Rachael Tibbs by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, 07736 906 881.
Her website is www.dynamic-golf.co.uk.