PGA of America: fitness to the fore

David Donatucci's goal is simple: Educate the PGA of America's 28,000 members about fitness. Founded in 1916, the PGA of America is a nonprofit organization that promotes the game of golf while continuing to enhance the standards of the profession. It is comprised of more than 28,000 men and women professional golfers dedicated to promoting and increasing participation in the game of golf. Donatucci has been appointed to serve as the new Director of Fitness and Performance at the PGA Learning Center, located at the PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida "My role is twofold," says Donatucci. "One is to provide physiological education to PGA of America members and apprentices. And the other is to provide a diagnostic and training facility for golfers of all abilities." Donatucci spent the last six months helping to renovate and expand the fitness and performance center adjacent the PGA Learning Center.

The PGA of America leads the golf industry in helping golf professionals maximize their performance in their respective careers, be it teaching, managing golf courses and pro shops, or conducting tournaments. And now, by adding fitness to their package, they are destined to become a leader ingolf-specific fitness education as well.

Donatucci was hired to design an educational program to introduce PGA of America members to the basics of golf fitness, and to provide a tool for the members to help them understand the physical motion of the golf swing. This will educate them on how the body moves and how changes made in the body can help expedite improvements in their students' golf swing. The premise of a golf fitnesseducational program for PGA of America members is to show them how to initially diagnose the physical limitations of their students through a golf fitness evaluation. It then shows them how to create a plan to reduce or eliminate those physical limitations toward optimal swing mechanics.

Donatucci will also work closely with the PGA of America golf schools to help evaluate students' physical abilities and design fitness programs for them.

All the current research demonstrates a correlation between certain movements in the body and how it affects the golf swing," says Downatucci. "We are trying to establish our programs as part of a golf school, so the initial setup would be a physical evaluation of the player through a series of body-weight movements. For example, we may start by evaluating how an individual's hips turn and move, then show them how these simple motions affect how they swing the golf club. We would then show them how they can improve their swing with these physical changes. If they need improvement in certain areas, we give them specific exercises and drills to facilitate improvement. We also evaluate individual workouts and practice regimens to ensure they are working on the correct things for their games."

The PGA Village is a self-contained golf Mecca and home to the PGA Golf Club, one of the country's premier daily-fee facilities. Having won numerous awards, the 54-hole championship course was designed by Tom Fazio and Pete Dye. The PGA Village is also the home of the PGA Learning Center, a state-of-the-art 35-acre golf park for the PGA of America schools, and is open to the general public. PGA members from all over the country can also use the PGA Learning Center for their own personal use to teach private lessons and to run schools of their own. At any given time you may find a PGA member using the facility to help people improve their games, including legendary PGA teaching professional Ron Philo Jr., or Ron Philo Sr., who happened to be teaching there while the GFM staff was visiting the facility.

The park has more than 100 full-swing practice stations and numerous practice areas to learn and practice every type of shot, including pitching and chipping. It also has 7,000 square feet of USGA practice putting greens, three practice golf holes and nine bunkers with several different kinds of sand to simulate play around the world. The PGA Learning Center has a pro shop, a video tech center sporting the latest swing analyzers including the MAT- T TM System by Taylor Made, the Dynamic Balance System, a Titleist Launch Monitor and the PGA PAR System, a club-fitting center, and now a state-of-the-art fitness center designed specifically for golf fitness programs.

The complex is also home to the PGA Historical Center Golf Museum and Library, and classrooms where PGA members test and complete continuing education courses. The facility provides the ultimate learning experience for PGA members to continue their education, as well as golfers of all levels who just want to shave a few strokes off their handicap.

There are numerous 'stay and play' packages available that include accommodations, breakfast, golf rounds and daily admittance to the PGA Learning Center and Historical Centers. Packages are also available for the PGA of America Golf Schools for players of all levels. Golf school programs feature instruction on all aspects of the game including full swing, short game, course management, physical conditioning and mental approach for players of all levels.

About David Donatucci

David Donatucci knows a thing or two about heading up fitness programs. He previously worked as the Head Performance Specialist at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, where he designed and implemented exercise programs. He also worked with golf instructors to evaluate and prescribe exercise and nutrition regimens to improve mobility, flexibility and stability for the Academy's students. In addition, Donatucci also served as Director of IMG's International Performance Institute where he worked with five AJGA players of the year, LPGA Rolex Rookie of the year, PGA and LPGA tour players, collegiate all-Americans, NFL, NHL and MLB players, and high school and collegiate athletes.

Junior Golf Fitness

Golf players cheating blowing to get the ball into the hole
Golf players cheating blowing to get the ball into the hole

If your junior golfer is anxious to get an early start in golf fitness, it is okay to encourage them to do so. Donatucci says starting junior golfers on a fitness program will not only help them develop into stronger better golfers now, but the fitness foundation they build now will serve them later, as they get older. "There is a phenomena I call the 'pruning effect,"' says Donatucci. "Your mind takes away things it doesn't need any more. So for example, if you have never trained for certain tasks such as learning to speak Russian, your mind throws that nerve ending away because it doesn't need it anymore. The same goes for golf. If you have never done any speed training for golf as a youngster, your mind will shut off that nerve ending. So, if you are 55 years old and have not exercised in awhile, but want to increase your club head speed, the golfer that did not do any training as a youngster will have a harder time improving speed than the person that has already done some speed training as a young golfer." Donatucci conducts junior golf specific camps at the PGA Learning center with PGA teaching professional Ron Philo Jr.

Starting January, the PGA Learning Center will offer "The Competitive Players Camp" designed for young golfers who want to maximize their scoring potential. It is ideal for players ages 16-20 wishing to compete at the college level. The program will offer golf-specific physical training, short-game evaluation and testing, long-game evaluation and testing, practice round preparation skills and a 36-hole stroke play tournament. Players will also be treated to discussions about nutrition, rules of golf, NCAA recruiting and tournament preparation tips.

Post Author: Lester Happer