With my off-season training in full swing, I thought it would be appropriate to get a dose of golf fitness information by welcoming the founder and owner of DM (Dynamic Motion) Golf Performance, Shannon Heffernan, on A Casual 9. Shannon has a Master’s degree in Kinesiology, is a Class “A” teaching professional, a TPI-3 Golf Fitness Coach and TPI-3 Golf Instructor. Her combined knowledge of the body, the golf swing, and fitness has turned DM Golf Performance into the go-to golf fitness facility in Calgary. Please enjoy.
1. Tell us a bit more about your background and how you developed a passion for
golf and fitness.
SH: I have always been interested in sport and fitness from a very young age. I actually completed my first personal training certification when I was in grade 12. I just loved fitness. My love for golf came later when an extra curricular strike took out my basketball season and I needed to find another sport. I decided to take up golf! It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the game. I would practice in the backyard trying to teach myself and then join as a single at my local 9 hole golf course. The love of the game continued to grow and I found myself at the course every night until dark hitting 5 or 6 balls on each hole.
When it came time to go to University it was an easy decision, Kinesiology was the only program I was interested in. I played onto the golf team at the University of Western Ontario in my second year. When I was nearing the end of my four years at Western I knew I needed to continue learning and golfing. I played into the PGA of Canada in the summer after graduating with Distinction from Western. From there I was accepted into the MKIN program at the University of Calgary where I started that fall. I was able to complete my Masters degree and work as an Assistant Professional in the summers to help complete my Class A. From here there was no turning back, I knew that both golf and fitness would be a part of my life or career from here on.
2. What motivated you to start DM Golf Performance?
SH: After finishing my masters degree and teaching golf for a few years, I had the knowledge of the sport and the body. The challenge for me was putting it all together. It was through continuing my education with the Titleist Performance Institute that really motivated me to step out on my own and create something that was unique here in Calgary.
Dynamic Motion (DM) Golf Performance started out with me coaching both sides, I would start students in the gym and go through a Golf Fitness and Movement Screen, then I would go to the driving range and analyze their golf swing. From there a program would be designed to meet their needs and goals. This was tons of fun and I learned a lot, however, I found that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn from or work with other professionals in the industry. This is when I knew that the success of DM Golf Performance would be as a Fitness and Movement Company that works with other PGA of Canada Professionals to create a holistic approach. This has allowed us to specialize in the field of golf fitness and performance and have the understanding of what is physically needed in the swing.
3. What should our first priority be at the beginning of an off-season in terms of fitness?
SH: The golf season in Calgary is so short that golfers play as much as possible and often stop training and don’t recover. This leaves golfers detrained and physically burnt out at the end of the golf season. Due to this, the first priority at the beginning of the off-season is to go through your baseline testing with a Golf Fitness and Movement Screen. Once you have your baseline testing you want to begin by building back your functional base (mobility, stability, movement patterns and work capacity).
4. How should off-season fitness routines and mid-season fitness routines differ?
SH: Off-seasons fitness routines will have a higher volume of training (reps/sets) to elicit training effects. You are looking to build your strength, power and cardiovascular endurance, which means you will have a much higher level of fatigue.
Mid-season we really want to manage fatigue and enhance recovery. Mid-season workouts should focus on exercises that maintain your strength and power with low volume, high intensity, and work on your function (mobility, stability, movement). If you are walking the course when you play, you also want your cardio sessions to be shorter and more effective, such as interval training.
5. If someone is only willing to commit a small amount of time to their fitness, what sorts of things would you get them to prioritize to maximize the benefit to their golf game?
SH: Movement is the main priority. Golfers need to learn to move their body with intention and awareness. Within theses specific movement exercises we re-learn how to breath, build mobility, stability, and movement patterns that will ultimately allow golfers to swing the club more consistency and efficiently.
6. Do you think it’s common for instructors, or even the players themselves, to mistake a fitness/mobility deficiency for a lack of skill?
SH: This is a very common mistake. It is challenging to instruct when a movement baseline has not been established. To successfully make a technical change or correct a swing error, the instructor must identify if the “error” is due to a movement limitation, a swing concept error, or a technical/ learning issue. Until you can identify why the error is happening you won’t be able to successfully fix it.
7. I’ve heard the phrase “muscles can be strong but stupid” used before. Is it possible for already-fit people to struggle to use/engage their muscles correctly for golf?
SH: I have actually never heard that specific saying but, yes, I see it all the time. I see very strong golfers that are unable to do simple movement patterns with ease. The swing can also look less coordinated and slow considering their level of strength. This is largely due to training “muscles” instead of “movements” and not building a proper functional base.
Training muscles (i.e. bicep curls) in isolation will improve the strength of that specific muscle. Training movements (multi-joint exercises such as a pull up or squat) makes muscles work together in coordination. With golf it is a very complex movement that requires our muscles to work in a coordinated manner. Only when there is a high level of coordination will their be efficiency and speed in the golf swing.
8. What do you think are the biggest keys to longevity and injury prevention for golfers?
SH: The biggest keys for longevity are having a solid movement foundation, a good base level of strength and proper tools to enhance recovery. We want golfers to be able to own their movements and be aware of their bodies before adding strength and speed to those movements. We are in a “high performance” society and the simple things often get overlooked, especially in youth training. If we take more time to build the foundation of which strength, speed and performance are built we will see the long term benefits.
9. What types of things do you see or hear from clients that give you the most satisfaction out of what you’re doing?
SH: When clients tell me they can now play multiple rounds without pain, that is extremely satisfying. Golf is a game that many of us want to play for a long time and if I can improve the longevity and enjoyment, I have done my job. When my clients tell me that they are seeing improvements in their performance, that’s the cherry on top. Feeling better, moving better, and playing better — that is the ultimate satisfaction.
Many thanks to Shannon for taking the time out of her busy schedule whipping golfers into shape to take part in A Casual 9. For more info on golf fitness and training, or to book a session with Shannon, please visit the DM Golf Performance website.
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Previous Episodes of A Casual 9:
Episode 1: Roger Kingkade – the Calgary legend dishes on his recent exit from radio, his golf game, and how his new golf app business is helping both golf courses and golfers.
Episode 2: Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk – the 7-time Canadian Women’s Long Drive Champion talks about her amazing story, competition, getting more women to play golf and, of course, how to hit it longer.
Episode 3: Leah Bathgate – the Founder and President of the Alberta Golf Tour talks about the future of the Tour, the benefits of competition, men and women competing in the same flights, and more.
Episode 4: Patrick Koenig – the epic golf photographer, whose work has been featured by the likes of Golf Digest, talks golf photography, course rankings, social media pet peeves, Tiger vs. Poulter, and more. His takes will have you feeling the heat.
Episode 5: Jon Sherman – published author and mastermind behind Practical Golf, Jon dishes out on practical game improvement, how to have more fun, and keeping your game sharp when time at the course is lacking.