ZenoLink evaluation, PSTs put Don Slater on course for Durham Senior Amateur victory
Golf has become fun again for Don Slater. That’s something the 62-year-old from Durham, N.C., couldn’t say in the fall of 2009.
Slater was suffering from back pain that forced him to drastically reduce his time on the course. It was a frustrating development for someone accomplished enough to have qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 1996, the same year he won the Durham Amateur.
But in March 2010, Slater began treatments with Dr. Eric Hegedus, the Duke University School of Medicine physiotherapist who founded T.E.A.M Inc. (an acronym for Targeted Enhancement of Athletic Movement). Slater’s therapy included a ZenoLink analysis, which enabled Hegedus to pinpoint the source of his pain, and Progressive Skills Training drills.
Two months later, Slater scored an eagle and three birdies on the final nine, cruising to a three-shot victory in the Durham Senior Amateur Championship.
“He told me he was hitting it past guys he had been behind forever,” said Hegedus. Slater began the final round of the 36-hole event at Hillandale Golf Course in second place after an opening 69. He closed with a 3-under-par 68 on the 6,339-yard layout.
“What drove me to Eric was the pain I was having on the right side of my back,” said Slater, who learned of Hegedus and T.E.A.M-Duke on the Titleist Performance Institute website (Hegedus was TPI certified before he learned of ZenoLink). “I had gone to doctors and another physical therapist with no positive results. Rest made no difference. The pain always got worse after playing golf, so I came to the conclusion it was golf related.”
Hegedus gave his new patient a general physical evaluation, then put Slater through ZenoLink testing. Using those results, he devised a program of stretches and Progressive Skills Training drills to help Slater achieve better thoracic spine rotation, which Hegedus determined was causing Slater’s pain.
“The primary benefit is being able to play pain free,” said Slater. “The other aspect is now I can do things my golf instructor wants me to do with my swing that I couldn’t do before. I told Eric that I’ve taken lessons since I was a kid, but I never knew how to move my body. Now I do.”
In early August, Slater told ZenoLink.com that he had taken a lesson two weeks earlier, and his instructor “looked at me and said ‘you’re on plane the best I’ve ever seen you.”
Hegedus said now that Slater has “re-educated his body, he can just go out and play. Eventually your (golf swing) motor program changes and it’s no longer a thought process. You just do it naturally, without thinking about it.”
Slater, a retired telecommunications executive, said he’s been on an upward curve since the day he began working with Hegedus. “When I’m moving well, I can actually feel that I’m picking up (swing) speed,” he said.
“The main thing,” said Slater, “is that playing pain free has made the game enjoyable again. I’m not fighting my body to get around the golf course.”
Clark Klaasen, pro golfer.
It’s not unusual for athletes to initially be intimidated by the data produced by ZenoLink. Even if, like Clark Klaasen, they’ve been educated at one of America’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.
“It takes awhile to understand what the graphs mean, and what the data means,” said Klaasen, a standout golfer at Duke University before graduating in Spring 2009. “But after going through the Progressive Skills Training (PST) drills for four or five days, I was a believer.”
With good reason. Klaasen’s competitive scoring average during his first three seasons at Duke was 73.6. It has dipped just below 70 since he incorporated ZenoLink into his training regimen in December, 2008. Since then Klaasen tied for 30th at the ’09 NCAA Division I national golf championship, qualified for the U.S. Open and just missed reaching the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School. The 2010 season will be Klaasen’s first full campaign as a pro. He plans to compete primarily on the eGolf Professional Tour.
Klaasen was an all-state soccer player at Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian High School. A knee injury before his senior year prompted him to switch to golf full time, a move that paid off with a scholarship offer from Duke. His swing coach, Brad Dean, introduced him to ZenoLink.
Klaasen credits ZenoLink with helping him better understand the cause and effect of functional movement in the golf swing.
“Before Brad and I started with ZenoLink, I really didn’t understand what I needed to do to improve and what I was trying to accomplish with my swing,” said Klaasen. “I’ve improved more in the last year than I have during any other period since I began playing. After doing the PSTs for a couple of months, I started going to the range and immediately began to hit it better. Now I don’t even think about what I’m doing, it feels so natural.”
It wasn’t long after beginning Progressive Skills Training that the proverbial light bulb went off in Klaasen’s head.
“The feedback is immediate,” he said. “You do this stuff and, boom, it just clicks. It’s so easy to pick up. It’s really fun, and it’s made a huge difference in my game.”
Dean, too, is sold on Progressive Skills Training – drills that are customized to individual athletes based on their ZenoLink functional movement analysis.
“The PSTs help you with body patterning, how the body is supposed to sequence up,” said Dean. “I always saw what was going on with Clark, how he gave the club away early and released his energy too early. The PSTs have really helped us create efficient angular speed for Clark and now he’s releasing the club really fast at the bottom. He’s creating a lot more distance than he ever had.
Klaasen said the PST drills have been especially effective in helping him use his core and lower body to initiate his backswing.
“Now I feel like I’m really gripping the ground and creating good stability at address,” he said. “It’s a totally different feel than the average player is used to.”