It’s no secret that golf can be one of the most frustrating and complex sports played around the world yet can also be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable games ever played. It’s kinda funny how that works, similar to an oxymoron: jumbo shrimp (really big small thing), icy hot (how can something be hot and cold at the same time?), frustrating yet enjoyable (GOLF!!!!!).
Golf is also a game that in theory, cannot be won.
Think about that, why would anybody in the right mind want to play a game that cannot be won? Sure you can shoot better scores, but you can always do better. This is what excites me most about working with golfers. It doesn’t matter your age or your handicap, golfers know that they can always do better. Even considering the best round you’ve ever played, I can guarantee that there was at least one shot that you “left out on the course”.
So over the years of working mainly with retired golfers over the age of 60 in Naples, I’ve found that once a golfer “catches the bug” and essentially becomes addicted to the game, they will do close to anything to try to improve their game. They will try any trick that seems to make sense. They’ll spend thousands of dollars on golf equipment, hours on the driving range, and countless sessions with the golf pros taking lessons. Anything to shave a stroke. Anything to straighten out a slice or hook. Anything to gain a little more distance with the driver.
They’ll even play through pain for years! “Back pain? What back pain?
All I gotta do is pop 2 Advil before I tee off, chase it with 3 Ibuprofen on the 7th tee box, down 3 more Ibuprofen on the 16th, and then wash it all down with a few drinks at the 19th.”
Does That Sound Familiar?
Whenever I hear somebody tell me this is how they continue to play, it always makes me question why somebody would want to put themselves (and their liver!) through so much pain just to have a frustrating day on the golf course. And then I completely understand when I get out to play and hit that “one perfect shot” that did exactly what it was supposed to do (usually on the 18th) which resulted in a birdie! Man- that feeling is like no other. Effortless. Smooth. Perfect. Addicting!
Over the years I’ve stopped trying to tell my physical therapy patients to “stop playing golf until we get your back pain under control.” It became pointless. My patients would either quit coming to see me or actually lie to me about how much they really played since our last session. I simply switched to saying “you can keep playing BUT it’s gonna delay how long it takes us to actually fix your (back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, etc).” And to my surprise, 99% of the time my patients are completely OK with spending more money on their PT with me and it taking longer than it should just so they can keep playing golf.
The psychology of a retired golfer
Understanding the psychology of a retired golfer in Naples was what ultimately led me to developing the Berman Method Fundamental Analysis (BMFA). I had to find a way to objectively measure my patient’s progress because I could not make sound clinical decisions about my treatment interventions based on what they were telling me (subjective). Countless times I’d have a patient tell me that their back was “feeling great” so I’d tell them to get back out on the golf course only to hear from one of their golf buddies (who was also a patient) that “ya Bob was out there popping pills again and ended up limping to the greens on the last few holes.” So when Bob came back for this next session with me, all I’d say was, “Really Bob???”
I started researching objective tests and measures for golfers and the only thing I could find was what the Titleist Performance Institute was doing (the TPI screen). Initially I thought it was great! So I kept looking into it and the more I learned, it was clear that the TPI screen was intended for younger golfers than my typical 60+ year old. I say this because the TPI screen has so many measurements that are not necessarily relevant to a golfer who is 60+ because a 30 year old body moves differently than a 70 year old body does.
Back to the drawing board
Back to the drawing board I went. I started investigating the commonalities between my current and past patients whose golf game improved after working with me. I ended up finding 10 objective measures in common that every single golfer over the age of 60 who also saw a significantly improved golf game had. Then I had to put these measures to the test. So with the next 10 golfers that came into my Naples physical therapy clinic, I used only those 10 objective measures to guide my interventions…
This resulted in a 100% success rate!
At the end of those 10 patient’s plan of care, all 10 of them reported significantly less pain AND dramatically improved distance on their tee shots! So the Berman Method Fundamental Analysis was born. Since establishing the BMFA and using this objective measurement system to guide our golf related interventions, we have maintained a 100% success rate with increasing the distance of every single golfer who has gone through one of our golf performance programs! Granted there have been a small percentage of people who begin our golf performance program only to find out that they actually have a physical therapy related restriction that needs actual physical therapy intervention before continuing with our golf performance program however that number remains small.
One significant contributing factor to the success rate using the BMFA is the nature of it’s objective measures. All 10 of the objective measures in the BMFA are “functional movements” meaning that it’s a movement that you need in order to do some type of functional activity. If we take teeing the ball up for example- a 60+ year old golfer needs to have both sufficient hip range of motion and strength to perform the task efficiently without placing increased strain on the low back. Hip strength and range of motion are also one of the most significant factors that determines how far your tee shot will go.
Another example is cervical (neck) range of motion and how neck range of motion is directly related to thoracic (upper back) posture. The more you can rotate your neck left and right, the better ability you have to avoid shifting during the golf swing (specifically the backswing). If you have less than 50 degrees of left cervical rotation, it’s likely that you will have to shift during your backswing which changes your balance- further decreasing your chances of proper impact.
Berman Method Scoring system
The scoring system for the Berman Method Fundamental Analysis is simple.
Each of the 10 measurements can score 0-3 points, making the total points available equal 30.
The best thing about the BMFA score is that it is inversely related to your golf handicap! Meaning that as your BMFA score increases, your handicap decreases!
Probably one of the best aspects of the BMFA is how simple it is to actually improve the score.
Please note that I said simple and not easy.
As long as you have a pulse and are willing to put in the effort, you can significantly improve your BMFA score which will directly improve your golf game!
Most of our clients who go through one of our 12 week golf performance programs start with a BMFA score in the low teens and ends with a score in the low 20’s. These BMFA score improvements are consistent with an average increase of 25 more yards on their driver tee shots, consistently hitting more fairways, and ultimately shooting lower scores. Allowing the Berman Method Fundamental Analysis measures to guide the interventions with our golf performance clients has been one of the most rewarding processes of my career. This is because I get to see the joy and happiness on my clients’ faces when then show up to an appointment followed by them telling me how they out drove everybody in their group, or...
“I haven’t hit drives like that since I was in my 40’s”, and best of all “I won my club championship!”
That is why I truly believe that the Berman Method Fundamental Analysis is the Holy Grail for aging golfers. I guess only time will tell, but as of now we are striving to be the “go to place” for Naples golfers over the age of 60 who want to significantly increase the distance of their tee shots.
!!! Immediately actionable tip !!!
Grab your driver and head to the driving range. Take 10 balls and hit 10 driver shots with minimal time between shots. Make sure to take note of the approximate distance and shot shape of each ball and record it.
After recording the 10th shot, I want you to analyze what you recorded. You must be objectively honest with yourself when answering my next questions.
Did you hit 6 or more shots that were very similar?
Meaning 6 or more shots landed ruffly in the same place.
If the answer is yes AND you think the ball should have gone farther, you likely have range of motion restrictions.
If the answer is no and your balls went all over the place, then you likely have a strength deficit (this does not mean to swing harder!). And best of all, either of those 2 answers means that you would be a great candidate for the BMFA!
Now if you want to see how other aging Naples golfers are dramatically improving their distance off the tee and dropping their scores, visit Bermanpt.com/golf or call me at 239-431-0232. I mean after reading all that, aren’t you curious if you are at high risk for injury or golf limitations in the next 3 years???
How to Transform Your Golf Game
...and hit the ball like a champion