Vaught's Views: This golf lesson goes beyond the swing

January 22, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Ben Fuqua became the first area player ever to win the state golf championship and was named Mr. Golf in Kentucky for all he did during the 2003 season.

Yet Old Bridge Golf Club professional Bruce Brown has found flaws in Fuqua's mechanics and is combining with Ron Barbato and Rob Longwill of McDowell Wellness Center to make changes in Fuqua's swing before he starts playing for the University of Kentucky next season.

One might almost have wondered if Fuqua's state title was a fluke after watching Brown, Barbato and Longwill dissect the Danville senior's game recently at the center as part of a program they offer to help area golfers improve their play.

"It's a physical education for golf. The whole concept is that if you are going to play competitive golf, you have to have the anatomy to do it," said Brown, who regularly gives Fuqua lessons. "There are no more fat bellies on the professional tour. They are fine-tuned athletes out there competing."


Brown noted that 14-year-old Michelle Wie, who barely missed the cut in the Sony Open last week while competing against the men, can hit a ball almost 300 yards because she's a "fine-tuned athlete" who works on her physique.

"You can take it too far, so we want to make sure that doesn't happen. We are going to spend time working on Ben's body, but he still has to work on his game," Brown said.

For $100, a golfer has an evaluation by Brown, Barbato and Longwill. Brown looks at the golfer's swing mechanics to figure out strengths and weaknesses. Then Barbato will help determine what physical limitations the golfer might have. Longwill, a personal trainer, then designs a workout program and diet to help the golfer have the physical ability to make the necessary swing changes.

"Rob takes information from Ron and I and then designs a specific exercise program for the golfer and shows him or her exactly what to do," Brown said.

But how bad can Fuqua's swing be? He did win the state title as well as several other tournaments last year.

"Ben wants to play on the (PGA) Tour one day," Brown said. "We've found he's so tight in his hips. His hips and torso need more elasticity. His big attributes right now are his eye-hand coordination and athleticism.

"He doesn't lift weights regularly and never has. He has gotten to where he is with natural ability. Now to step to a different level, he's got to get better. He made that choice when he decided to play in the SEC (Southeastern Conference). If he had gone to a smaller school, he might not have to worry about all this.

"He was a great high school player, but he wants to be better and to do that, he has to make some changes."

Fuqua noted that he sometimes has back pain. Brown said Fuqua's evaluation determined that his left side of his lower body was far stronger than his right side. That problem should be corrected by April when he starts playing golf regularly again.

Brown noted that Danville's Joe Bunch, one of the area's top amateur players, improved his game by taking lessons and practicing. However, he also exercises four or five days per week.

"He does that because he knows he has to be in shape to compete at the highest level he can," Brown said. "We can help any golfer. We want to take people and make them more of an athlete so that they don't have to have back pain or other problems when they are done playing golf. Besides, you can't be a fat slob and be a good golfer, and most players want to improve the way they play no matter what kind of score they normally have.

"It's easy to make that shoulder turn when you are 19 or 20. When that same player gets to be 45 or 50, he's losing 30 yards off the tee and wondering why. It's because he never did any training for a strength or stretching standpoint. We can take people and give them that edge."

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