Karen, thank you for catching up with WomensGolf.com during your very busy summer schedule. You have a unique and very modern approach to teaching that combines golf and fitness. Where did it all start for you?
Golf and fitness have been important to me for most of my life and I will be forever grateful to my parents for introducing me to the game and encouraging me to follow my passion. I grew up living on a golf course. My father introduced me to the game and since the first time I hit a ball, I was fascinated with how to swing a club and how to play the game.
After graduation, I began working with David Leadbetter and found my niche in life: teaching golf. It was through David Leadbetter that I met and spent time with some of the world’s best golfers of the time, including Ernie Els, Seve Ballesteros, Trevor Immelman and Se Ri Pak. I spent thousands of hours watching professional golfers play and practice and honed my teaching skills by working with golfers of all levels.
During this time, I developed a fascination for fitness and health. I would take all sorts of exercises classes, jog, and lift weights. I discovered that improving your fitness could help improve your golf swing as well. I eventually developed my golf-specific fitness program that I call Cardiogolf, a program to help improve all aspects of fitness like strength, flexibility and endurance as you improve your golf swing technique.
Your Cardiogolf approach is revolutionary because many people outside the game think golf is for cart riders and people not necessarily in the best shape – how are golf and fitness connected?
Golfers are realizing more than ever that total game improvement, injury prevention, and lower scores all come from better physical conditioning no matter what your age. You’ve been living under a rock if you don’t know that you need to exercise for better health. I designed my program, called, Cardiogolf, for golfers to kill two birds with one stone- get some exercise and practice their golf swing at the same time. So it is perfect for people who have time constraints.
Tell us about being part of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals.
I’ve been a member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division for more than 20 years. It is the world’s premier golf association for women. I have spent the last two years researching, developing and writing the curriculum for the LPGA “Teaching Her Course“. The LPGA would like to educate golf professionals about how to comfortably and successfully teach the game of golf to women differently than men. The LPGA “Teaching HER Course” is for golf professionals and consists of (4) one hour online modules with knowledge checks and interactive video segments available online at LPGA.com.
I am also currently running for Vice-President of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division along with my running mate Deb Vangellow. We are excited to team together to help our fellow teachers excel in the golf industry.
Do you have a favorite quick assist or piece of advice that always gets good results for your students?
One thing that golfers can do that would help improve their performance immediately is warm up before play or practice. A short 5-minute warm up can do your body far more good than actually hitting practice shots. If your muscles and joints are not warmed up and you start to take full swings, you may not be able to take your muscles through the full range of motion. You may compensate your swing technique to get the ball airborne and develop bad habits. A simple warm up before practice or playing a round of golf can greatly impact your golf swing and performance on the course. A warm-up prepares the body for the act of swinging the club promoting a more efficient movement pattern through increased flexibility and blood flow. I have a developed a golf-specific warm-up that is available at Cardiogolf.com to help you prepare for play or practice.
Similarly, as a certified personal trainer, what is the first thing you recommend to women golfers?
The most important aspect of a golf fitness program is to make sure that it is tailored to the golfers specific needs. The program should always include a basic golf fitness screen to pinpoint your specific physical limitations such as lack of flexibility or strength. Then the program should be designed around the results of the fitness screen to improve the areas you are lacking. If you don’t identify your physical strengths and weaknesses, you may over or under train your muscles and joints which could lead to muscle imbalances and injury.
If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
It doesn’t matter what course I could play as long as there was no holdups. I love to play fast and I hate to wait, so if I could only play one course for the rest of my life, I want to play on a course that no one is playing in front of my group.
Great answer! We would have to agree with that – a fast game is a good game. To finish up Karen, this is the question we always ask – How can we encourage more young women to take up and enjoy the game?
A lot of times, people try to encourage women to play golf because they say it would be good for their careers or that it helps bring them closer to their husbands or boyfriends. But I want encourage women to try golf, not for career advancement or for someone else, but because it is fun and it’s a great way spend time challenging yourself mentally and physically. I encourage women to just play golf simply for the sheer enjoyment of the game.
Karen Palacios-Jansen is an LPGA Class A Teaching Professional and a Certified Personal Trainer specializing in Golf Fitness. Karen serves as the National Vice President of the LPGA Teaching And Club Professionals Membership and has been voted as one of America’s “Top 50 Female Instructors” by Golf Digest magazine for 15 years and received the prestigious LPGA National Teacher of the Year award in 2008.
Karen’s website at www.kpjgolf.com is a ‘must-see’ resource for golf and fitness instruction.
Three Keys to Golf Fitness by Karen Palacios-Jansen