Back in the Swing | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Back in the Swing

The big boys are back, and they are golfing at Annandale Country Club in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. We'll see them with their caddies and their Buicks, but what we won't see are the hours of practice, training and conditioning that brought them here. Many professional golfers now work with a personal trainer or personal physical therapist to keep themselves, and their game, in top condition.

Sylvia McCandless, a physical therapist at The Courthouse health club on Lakeland Drive, agrees that a lot of professional golfers now have a physical therapist or trainer who designs a specific plan for them. "The important thing," she explained, "is that exercise is very specific to what you are doing. You use different muscle groups for different sports. You would not train a tennis player the same way you would a golfer. You can't just start any fitness program and improve your golf game." She added that people seem to make the mistake of training to build up strength or endurance. They may be getting stronger, but they may be strengthening muscles that are not necessarily used for golf, and may be neglecting the very muscles needed. They may also be practicing wrong and reinforcing bad habits. That is where the Body Balance for Performance fitness and training program comes in.

Body Balance for Performance is a golf and fitness training program developed by Paul Calloway, the first director of physical therapy on the PGA Tour. He first introduced his program in 1991 after working with golf greats such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Fred Couples. Today there are more than 50 licensed Body Balance franchises in the United States. McCandless Physical Therapy is one of them, and the only one in Mississippi.

McCandless, a graduate of Belhaven College and the University of Mississippi, began her physical therapy practice in 1975, and in 1998, after changes in Medicaid and the boom of home health, she began looking for something to help her clinic grow and to change her mix of patients. She found Body Balance for Performance and now offers the program at her facilities in The Courthouse at Byram and in Jackson.

Typically when a person comes in for golf assistance, the first step is an evaluation that includes measuring range of motion and strength and videotaping the swing. "This gives us a baseline to relate what was found in the evaluation to what will make a perfect swing. The video allows us to go back and see what changes were made. Hopefully, the outcome is an improved golf score and a good consistent swing," McCandless explained. She is also able to uncover a general weakness, not necessarily for golf benefit, and increase strength specific to that weakness.

The program is good for beginners because it helps prevent injury and teaches the proper swing, and it can also help those who are losing distance, strength and flexibility. "More women are getting interested," she said. "They are playing later in life. While they have the flexibility, they are usually weak in their shoulders. The program is great for them." Suzy Whaley, the first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945, used a custom exercise program by Body Balance to help her hit tee shots close to 270 yards. Worked for her.

McCandless emphasized that golfers need to also be working with a golf pro. "As changes in the body develop, the pro can help with the swing," she said.

I'm at least half convinced; maybe I should check in to this Body Balance thing to help my drive off the tee. I, you see, hit a retrievable shot. That is, you can bend over and pick it up after I hit it. The only item I'm normally allowed to drive on the golf course is the cart. But I do a heck of a good job at that.
Judy Jacobs is the JFP's sports columnist.

Previous Comments


The billboard on the way to Madison, off I-55, says "over $3 million given to charity." This is a little misleading. Yes, $3 mill was given to charity, since 1968! Spread out over 5-600 different charities. After one sees the charity list and the many, many years of the PGA tourney in Miss. not that much has been done for charitable organizations. When some of the charities are Wrestling for Christ and Sons of Confederate Veterans, one may wonder exactly what charities do they give money to! In this state, and elsewhere in this country, a debate over tort reform is brewing. Some claim the lawsuits against doctors are driving up insurance rates. Well, I ask: what about insurance companies' sponsorship of PGA events? These companies shell out alot of money to put these events on and some higher ups in companies like Southern Farm Bureau are complaining about it. It puts undue stress on the financial aspects of running the insurance business, particularly paying claims! What does the insurance companies do? Raise rates to the consumer. Insurance should insure people, not put on golf tournaments. Most of those golfers are wealthy enough to organize and run their own tournaments!


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