Chiropractor Ben Goffen has set up the Optimal Swing Clinic at Cottrell Park golf club near Cardiff. With the combination of his expertise, corrective exercise and golf analysis working side-by-side to make sure the player's body and swing can work more effectively on the course.
This means more enjoyable rounds for golfers who have an injury or a niggling pain, but also an improvement in their game, hitting the ball better, cleaner and further. The clinic is the only one of its kind in Wales, while no British equivalent has such a close link with golf swing analysis facilities.
The team, with chiropractor Chris Wragg permanently at Cottrell Park where PGA teaching pro Gareth Bennett is also based, have just started a new partnership with the Golf Union of Wales.
European Tour star Stuart Manley and Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards are among those helped by the Optimal Swing Clinic while the benefits were highlighted recently by European Tour winner Jamie Donaldson, who went from not being able to step off the kerb to Ryder Cup hero thanks to a combination of spine treatment and targetted exercise.
“We realise what we do impacts on someone's life first and then their golf. Even someone like Stuart Manley on the European Tour wants to enjoy his golf - but first he wants to be without pain,” explained Goffen.
“Many golfers are older so they have built up issues with their bodies. It is not just resolving the problem, but also finding out why it is happening and being able to make those long term changes. Our unique combination of skills at Optimal Swing offers something new for the people who come to see us.
“Most of our patients are on long term pain relief, while the medical message it that they are suffering from wear and tear and nothing can be done – but there is a lot that can be done and mobility can usually be improved to a large extent.”
The starting point is the unique three-phase assessment. Firstly a clinical assessment, then a biomechanical physical assessment, before a video golf swing diagnostic-session with a PGA pro who also provides feedback.
This starting point and the combination of treatment and bespoke home exercise, plus regular reviews, gives the positive results for people want to play golf pain-free.
“People will upgrade their golf equipment at the drop of a hat, but not look at the person swinging the clubs,” explained Goffen.
“People get frustrated by their golf and they do not need to. I enjoy taking people who have retired from work and deserve to have another ten to fifteen years of playing golf – if we can help them do that then we have achieved our aim of getting people better.
“It also has an impact on their general lives. I found we would get a particular area better, but then when they played again the problem was coming back.
“I could not leave it there because I understand the wider issues, how the body is connected, so we set up the clinic at Cottrell Park because we felt we could offer something unique by taking a wider look, combining it with what the body needs to play golf well.
“We look at what is wrong, how does golf impact on what is wrong, and then an understanding of what is happening in the swing. We can predict the bad shots without seeing someone swing a club, but then we take that to the golf pro to assess the swing and see what each person needs.
“The average player getting on a little bit is just told to get on with it – there is a lack of awareness that the issues they are facing could be improved. They wait for a specific injury before they look for treatment, but the day to day pain can be treated as well.
“We have one guy who has had five hip replacements, plus three shoulder operations, and we have helped him back to enjoying his golf this year for the first time in many years.
“You get people who do not move well, who think that is what will happen for the rest of their lives, but they can regain a full range of movement. It is both interesting and frustrating that people do not need to walk around with the level of discomfort they have got.
“We can help – and luckily we have a lot of advocates now pushing what we do from their experiences with us.”