Fitness Month: TPI -- a way to get healthy, fit and play better golf

Doug Perron
Dan Rothfeld Photography
Doug Perron, a personal trainer at the Barrington Fitness Studio in Barrington, R.I., holds several certifications from the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI).
T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer


Published: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 | 12:53 p.m.

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and The PGA of America is teaming up with the President's Challenge Program to encourage children and families to be active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. As part of its involvement in the President's Challenge Program, The PGA has committed to engage 50,000 individuals to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), which recognizes youth and adults for following the daily-recommended physical activity guidelines.

BARRINGTON, R.I. -- There's no denying the fact that the physique of golfers has changed dramatically over the last several years. A healthy lifestyle, along with a golf-specific fitness regimen, leads to a more enjoyable life and a better golf game.

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Warmer weather is motivating people nationwide to shut down the computer, get off the couch and head outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May, The PGA of America is teaming up with the President's Challenge Program to encourage children and families to be active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. As part of its involvement in the President's Challenge Program, The PGA has committed to engage 50,000 individuals to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), which recognizes youth and adults for following the daily-recommended physical activity guidelines.

Adults who are active 30 minutes per day and youth who are active for 60 minutes per day, five days per week, for a period of six out of eight weeks will receive a PALA certificate of achievement signed by the co-chairs of the President's Council, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes.

To learn more and get moving towards a healtier you, click here.

Titliest Performance Institute

Dr. Greg Rose and Dave Phillips founded the Titleist Performance Institute in 2004. It was created to look at all aspects of golf performance. TPI helps golfers play more golf – and better golf – by understanding the importance of the body and how it affects swing efficiency and equipment fitting. To learn more about TPI, click here.

That's a fact. Look no further than all the flat-bellies walking the fairways of the PGA Tour these days. Most of the players look athletic, strong and hit the ball a country mile.

Many of those players that you see have used the workings of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) to transform their bodies in an effort to get the most out of their game.

Lucky for all of us casual golfers, TPI isn't limited to the pros.

Meet Doug Perron, President and Principal Trainer at the Barrington Fitness Studio in Barrington, R.I., home of eight-time PGA Tour champion Brad Faxon, who happens to be one of Perron's clients.

Perron, a personal trainer for 18 years, has countless impressive certifications that spread across the walls of the Barrington Fitness Studio. Many of them are for TPI, which Faxon led Perron to discover in 2005.

Since then, Perron has been hooked.

"Prior to TPI, I had worked with some amateur golfers and your average country club weekend warriors," Perron said. "But, it was really Brad Faxon who exposed me to TPI back in 2005. He took me out to Oceanside, Calif., to the TPI facility and it was love at first sight, as they say. Another way to put it is -- I drank the Kool-Aid right away, because I saw the program they designed and what they were offering. My first exposure to TPI, I was convinced that it was a superior model to testing and training the athletic golfer."


Faxon, a former two-time member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, has always been in great physical shape. However, he admits that his conditioning happened almost by accident.

"I was always a kid that played a lot of different sports growing up," Faxon said. "Like many players on Tour, you play a lot of sports growing up, not realizing it's for your well being. It was just fun. You weren't necessarily doing it to be in good shape. Plus, I always liked to workout. I didn't initially do it to be a better golfer."

Once Faxon visited the TPI facility in Oceanside, Calif., and met cofounders Dr. Greg Rose and Dave Phillips, he became a huge fan.

"It's my favorite place to go," Faxon said of TPI. "You feel rejuvenated and it almost feels like you get fit quick and on the right track. When I think about what changed the approach to fitness for golfers, two things stand out. Having seen David Duval go from overweight to fit and buff and No. 1 in world right as Tiger came out, I think those two things in the later '90s really sped up the process."

Perron's knowledge of TPI has worked wonders for Faxon, who estimates he trains with Perron 3-4 times per week when he's home in the Ocean State.

"What's great about Doug is he's a conscientious trainer," Faxon said. "I hurt myself prior to working with Doug with another trainer. I wouldn't say it was a career-wrecker, but I haven't been the same since I tore my ACL. When I met Doug, I thought things were a little slower than I wanted, but Doug's philosophy with me was to start slow and stay steady. Now I'm in really good shape and very balanced. We work out 3-4 days a week when I'm home and I have programs for on the road to train. When I have problems, I can call him and I know he's been through all the schools and TPI certifications, so that's peace of mind for me."

If you're serious about improving your game, Faxon explained, it takes a big commitment.

"There's a couple of things," he said. "I'm a big believer that fitness is great for overall health. It'll help you in whatever you do, and there's no doubt it will improve your quality of life. You feel good about yourself. And if you're trying to become a better golfer -- and there's a lot of different avenues to go down -- but your physical shape is one of the things to knock off and fix right away. If you're 30-40 lbs. overweight, address that. You'll be better off for it and so will your game.

"With that said, I don't think that you can completely substitute fitness for time on the practice tee or short game area. To be better you have to be on the course too. Chip and putt. Work on your swing. It's not just fitness. You need to be careful of that. Dedicate time to the fitness aspect, but don't overdo it. Work with a PGA Professional too. Play some tournament golf. All those things are important."


More than anything, TPI captures a team-approach, which was incredibly appealing to Perron. Rather than a client seeing just Perron for personal training, Perron brings in the client's PGA Instructor, and, in some cases, a physical therapist in an effort to help the client achieve the optimum performance.

"The team approach is a win-win for everyone," Perron said. "It looks at the person's biggest red flag. If we can identify why this individual is having a hard time moving, we can pinpoint the exercise program to really improve that limitation. It's not always a movement limitation. Sometimes it's a stability limitation, which means a person may have a hard time just getting to a certain position because their joints and their muscles won't allow them there. We can pinpoint the training program to where we really focus on the limitations, or the needs. It's a needs-based program."

That team approach is also why PGA Professionals love the TPI program.

"This is the key component of the TPI system," said Kyle Phelps, PGA Head Professional at the prestigious Rhode Island Country Club, who works closely with Perron. "Just as an individual would have an accountant, financial advisor and attorney work together to help improve his or her financial future, a PGA Instructor, TPI trainer, and medical person work to help improve a player's golfing future. If an instructor tries to get a player to make a swing change that the player does not have the strength or mobility to make, he's wasting the player's time, money and could possibly injure the player. An instructor and trainer working as a team give a player the best chance at long-term improvement."

Phelps, whose course annually hosts the Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade's CVS/Caremark Charity Classic and will also be the venue for the U.S. Women's Amateur this August, insists that TPI has been revolutionary for golfers, no matter the level of ability.

"For so long instructors and students have been frustrated trying to make changes that the student does not have the physical ability to make," Phelps said. "The TPI Assessment gives the instructor, and student, an 'X-ray' of the student's capabilities. It allows them to understand what a student can or cannot do and decide a realistic course of action."

And that's where Perron comes into play. After the assessment and the discovery of what he terms, "red flags," he sets up a program for the client to help achieve certain physical goals and address those problem areas. For Perron, TPI is not limited simply to golf.

"After my exposure to the TPI model, which is really a system of testing and training, I use this model on all athletes, whether they're golfers, tennis players, or lacrosse and everything in between - baseball and soccer - because it's such a comprehensive way of looking at movement," Perron said. "Truly, golf is one of the most dynamic moving sports out there. This system looks at how the body moves from a static and dynamic standpoint. We take a look at a joint-by-joint approach of movement and that helps to identify any red flags, or weak links that a player may have that they need to really work on.

"For example, we do some balance testing," he added. "It seems very simple, but what we find here, is that many players in their 40s and 50s and beyond, really lack balance. By helping to identify where that's coming from - if it's from a joint perspective, like an ankle, knee or hip joint that's affected and limits your balance - in golf you need great balance and you need to work that particular area. We look at stability, mobility, balance, strength, strength endurance and also strength power. So we evaluate all those aspects of the player and we've found that this is a great way of looking at all athletes. Again, you're looking at movement and you're looking at the body's ability to access the movement."

Perron also enlists the services of physical therapist Greg Specht in nearby Swansea, Mass. Since TPI has been so successful with touring professionals, Specht was enthusiastic about teaming up with Perron and offering the program to golfers all over New England.

"A physical therapist, particularly one who has studied the biomechanics of golf, is able to analyze your physical capabilities and movements to identify areas that are moving inefficiently - whether you're in pain or not," Specht said. "Once we know where your limitations are, we can design an exercise program that fixes the problem areas before the injury happens, all the while improving flexibility, strength, posture, etc. I like the fact that the evaluation and training methods used by TPI are tour proven and based on the latest biomechanical and fitness research."


It's not uncommon for people who aren't familiar with gym training to instantly be intimidated just by the sights - all those free weights, machines that look like the latest NASA project and, in some cases, people who look like they should be on the cover of bodybuilding magazines.

For starters, congratulations on your new gym membership. Now, wouldn't it be nice to get the most out of it? Perron sure thinks so.

"If you're going to be spending one or two hours a week in the gym, or maybe you're spending seven hours a week in the gym, make sure you're not wasting your time working on things that are superfluous," he said. "Make sure you're working on the right systems to improve not only your game, but to improve your health. There's a lot of wasted time in the gym, where people don't really know what they're doing. We're giving them direction to work on the right things."

And… sigh of relief… that doesn't involve moving a lot of weight.

Whether you're Brad Faxon, or a weekend golfer who wants to get the most out of your game, the team-approach theme taken with TPI is hard to beat.

"A player at any ability level would benefit from TPI," Phelps said. "I have yet to meet a player who does not want to hit it farther. Most of the best players at my club are the ones who are most serious about their fitness. All you need to do is turn on the TV to see how big fitness has become in golf. The players are better athletes and in better condition. The game has become such a power game and fitness is a huge part of it."