(TPI) Titleist Performance Institute Review
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(TPI) Titleist Performance Institute Review

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(TPI) Titleist Performance Institute Review

There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.

What We Tried

Titleist Performance Institute

Product Expert

Hi, I’m Chris and I’m a golf-obsessed member of the MyGolfSpy team. As the Director of Business Development, I generally work as a conduit between our staff and other golf companies. I also spend a fair bit of time in my hot tub collecting thoughts into ramblings on equipment or other golf topics.

And, like many of you, I can’t wait for the next brown box to show up on my doorstep.

What Is TPI?

TPI stands for Titleist Performance Institute.

It could just as well be Temporary Pain and Inflammation. But that’s only if you struggle to touch your toes or complete a backswing with a Fort Knox security tight thoracic spine.

Like yours truly. More on that in a bit.

The premise of TPI is simple: Lead golfers and industry professionals in a continuous discovery that examines how the human body functions in relation to the golf swing. Put another way, TPI assesses a golfer’s physical capabilities and whether that limits or enhances specific movements during a golf swing.

Plenty of golfers would like to swing like Tiger Woods or Adam Scott. But they can’t. As in, they physically can’t produce a kinematic sequence of movements to generate that swing.

Yet, how often does an instructor ask a student to get into a specific position or perform a movement that isn’t possible given the golfer’s physical competence? In my experience, far too often.

Conceptually, TPI is simple. Then again, so is a diet that requires a calorie deficit. It’s in the execution where human elements of grit, dedication and work come into play. TPI isn’t a get-rich-quick panacea for the golf swing. But it is a pathway built around what the golfer can and, perhaps more importantly, can’t, do.

Background Check

The TPI program was created by founders Dr. Greg Rose and Dave Phillips in 2003. Today, the concept of golf fitness is mainstream. In 2003, it was an island. In the middle of the Pacific. With very few, if any, other islands in sight. In 2003, you probably had a Palm Pilot and hit up the local Sam Goody to snag the new 50 Cent album.

Juxtapose that with the current landscape. At-home smart gyms and app-based workout regimens are as common as flat-screen TVs. That is, you sort of need to stop and force yourself to remember that this isn’t the way it’s always been.

To date, TPI states that it has more than 19,000 trained TPI instructors in 63 countries. The headquarters and primary R&D facility are located inside Titleist’s testing facility in Oceanside, Calif.

STEP No. 1: ASSESSMENT

After a brief discussion with Phillips about TPI, he put me through a series of 16 tasks to better understand my physical competence. Each exercise was assessed and labeled as either red (fail), green (pass) or yellow (partial pass). Based on this, the My TPI app generates a Golf Fitness Handicap. I failed six tasks, passed eight and partially failed (or passed depending on your level of optimism) two others.

My score was 24.  Honestly, I thought it would be worse. As a scratch golfer, I asked Dave if that delta (Fitness HC-Playing HC) is abnormal. Indeed, it is. So I’ve got that going for me. For the record, Phillips said that in the past two decades, only a handful of golfers has passed every screening exercise the first time. One such individual is Adam Scott. I can see that.

The most remarkable part of the assessment had nothing to do with the individual tasks or brutally honest results. It was that, based on watching me struggle like a chair with three legs for 15 minutes, Dave told me what my swing looked like. Not sorta what my swing looked like. But dead-nuts on exactly what my swing looked like. He’d never seen me hit a ball.

Results and Trends

As golfers, we tend to be more comfortable overestimating how far we hit the ball while forgetting how often we three-putt. But this is the type of test where you can’t cheat or massage the results. Both Tony Covey, our esteemed Ball Lab expert and equipment editor, and I went through this process. I mention that primarily because at one point, Tony asked if he could get a mulligan on a task. Phillips declined and, in the nicest possible way, suggested that multiple attempts wouldn’t change anything.

In reviewing my test results, two general themes emerged. My setup posture and lower-body action are major roadblocks to hitting the ball consistently. As a result, I compensate with the portions of my body that work better (torso rotation, cervical rotation and forearm/wrist flexion and extension).

Swing Evaluation

 

Based on my physical screening, Phillips had a firm grasp of the basic limitations of my swing. Basically, I get into a relatively playable position at the top of my back swing. At that point, my upper body takes over. My transition starts with my hands and I rely too much on my arms and upper body to (try and) square the clubface at impact. Meanwhile, my hips stop turning, leading to some early extension. I’ve seen my swing on video before and these issues are nothing new. My tendencies are the same as they were several years ago.

That said, the real purpose of the swing diagnosis is to connect the screening exercises with specific swing movements. For example, I knew I couldn’t touch my toes. But I didn’t understand how that impacted my setup posture. I’ve seen a million still images of professional golfers with open hips (you can see both back pockets) at impact. But I never understood why I wasn’t able to achieve something similar. As Phillips told me, for each limitation you have two options. Think of it as a fork in the road with two paths.

First, you can work to change the movement. Most often, these are slow changes that occur over weeks and months as a result of an individual training program. And it’s important to remember that perfection shouldn’t be the enemy of progress. My swing tends to get short and flat (laid off). I won’t ever look like Dustin Johnson but there are specific exercises that will allow my swing to get longer and more vertical.

The other option is to modify your swing to work around certain limitations. Some golfers simply don’t have the time or desire to go down that path. Some don’t have an option. Case in point, Jon Rahm. The No. 1-ranked golfer on the PGA TOUR was born with a club foot. As a result, he has a much shorter swing than many professional golfers. Therefore, he employs specific techniques that allow him to generate a driver swing speed of 118-plus mph.

To clarify: if you can’t rotate your torso effectively, you can either a) work to increase thoracic spine mobility or b) Allow your lead heel to lift and/or open both feet to help encourage a more complete turn/backswing.

PLAN OF ACTION

Improvement is a process. And it isn’t linear. And sometimes it’s slow as well. I knew all of that going in but I figured that I couldn’t get any less flexible so what the hell.

Based on Phillips’ complete assessment of my fitness screening and swing video, he created two training protocols. The first is a series of 10 to 12 dynamic stretching exercises that takes roughly 20 to 25 minutes, three times per week. The other is a shorter list of swing drills built around developing a body awareness of what a solid impact position feels like.

Right now, the goal is to stick with this routine for five to six weeks and then reassess. We’re currently in Week 4. So, TBD.

I should probably note that after your initial evaluation, all necessary information is housed in the MyTPI app. Beyond that, it serves as a repository of individualized training programs, screening results and a communication portal with your assigned coach.

MY $.05

Throughout this experience, two takeaways stand out. The first is something that most of us probably already know. Chiefly, that most facets of golf improvement exist in silos. You go to one place for a club fitting and a different one for lessons. If you’re into fitness and health/wellness, you probably go somewhere else for that as well. And, for many reasons, this makes sense. Not the least of these is that most people specialize in a single area. Many instructors aren’t expert club fitters. And if you find someone with the requisite biomechanics and fitness chops, I’d bet you a C-note that they can’t tell you about shaft EI profiles.

The other key lesson is that every golfer has an optimally efficient swing that is a function of your physical makeup. Unless you have a clear picture of what your body can do, you’re likely trying (or wanting) it to do things that aren’t entirely reasonable.

With that, the benefit of any holistic approach is rooted in the time and effort you’re willing to dedicate. Personally, I tend to do best with shorter, structured workouts. In this case, I allocate 20 to 30 minutes per day, four to five days per week, to either MyTPI exercises or speed training (Stack System). Could I be doing more? Sure. But I’m not the guy who is going to the gym for 60 to 90 minutes five times per week. And I’m not going to give up ice cream or premium River Bear bacon. So be it.

That said, I want to know that the time I am willing to allocate produces maximum results.

Therein lies the problem with overly generic tips like “three must-have moves to boost driver distance.” Maybe those moves just happen to be the three exact movements that 1) you aren’t currently doing, 2) you have the ability to perform and 3) you can master relatively quickly.

Or perhaps it’s why shotgun instruction has a rather low ceiling. It won’t necessarily do any harm but it’s unlikely to produce any prolonged benefit.

A final note. Most basic exercises won’t require more than what you likely have laying around the house. That said, if you plan on getting the most out of any program, no matter how elementary it might feel, it’s likely worth your time to invest in some basic equipment. Here’s the list of what I purchased to get started.

Basic Equipment List:

As always, let us know your thoughts.

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel





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      John White

      2 years ago

      How do I Aleve shoulder tendinitis. Did six weeks of PT with little results.

      Reply

      Steve Cannon

      2 years ago

      I’ve thought about doing this but as others have commented, finding a tpi certified instructor is not necessarily straight forward where I live.

      My question would be whether if you just did a combination of Pilates, Yoga and mobility exercises whether that covers the basics that would get recommended..,. All of which is freely available in any number of places

      Reply

      MakeParNotWar

      2 years ago

      A quiet trip to Oceanside? Would’ve bought you all a few IPAs had I known. I’m hoping the MGS team was able to experience Goat Hill Park. Maybe there’s a future article about the best working class course in the country!

      Reply

      Nick

      2 years ago

      Interesting article. Moving forward this technology could develop into a new approach to teaching a golfer to maximize his potential given that not only are body types and limitations different but also golf swings are different. Clearly a 5-8 person who is 50 pounds overweight cannot use the same swing as someone 6-2 with a 32 inch waist. I can envision a computer program that scans a golfer’s body and inputs any physical issues to generate a series of movements that enables the golfer to present the club face to the ball at the correct angle and path.

      Reply

      Ryan Leach

      2 years ago

      Very good write up about TPI. I myself am a level 2 Fitness TPI Certified in the Boston area and completely believe all golfers should incorporate TPI into their training programs.

      One of the best parts of TPI is that it whether it’s a Golf, Fitness, or medical pro that brings you through your first screen they can recommend other local TPI certified that best fit your needs. I work with multiple golf pros in the area that refer clients to me to work on flexibility, mobility, and speed training. Having a TPI screen gives golfers a baseline of how their body moves in relation to the swing and areas of physical improvement.

      I highly suggest all golfers get a TPI screen. On the TPI website there’s a find an expert page where you can find all the TPI certifieds in your area.

      Reply

      Steve C

      2 years ago

      I laughed when you said he knew what your swing looked like after your evaluation. I had a similar experience when working with Randy Myers at Sea Island. After 15 minutes he told me exactly what I struggled with in my swing without ever seeing me hit a ball.

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      For me the hardest thing is to actually find a TPI instructor without having to drive an hour each way. And at the rates these folks charge, I’m not interested in zoom sessions (at least not initially).

      Reply

      Jim T.

      2 years ago

      In 2012 did the TPI fitness analysis. Stuck to the exercises all winter and had my best year of golf. Now that I am a few years older I think I need this more than ever. Our recently hired new teaching pro is TPI certified and will certainly be assisting me.

      Reply

      Karlton Uhm

      2 years ago

      Great article. I have the same question as Andrew T. I want the TPI assessment and lesson plans on the TPI app, but I can’t identify the right instructor for me in the Chicago area. I want a TPI guy, not a guy certified in TPI that will give me his training method. Short of going to Oceanside, CA, I want the TPI experience on a smaller scale. Thanks and Happy Holidays.

      Reply

      JalanK

      2 years ago

      I first became aware of TPI when they ran a series of shows on the golf channel. They also offered DVD full of information, and exercise advice which I still have, and occasionally re-watch.

      I especially like their website where you can find warmup workouts, swing advice, solutions to problems, and specific exercises to correct issues with your swing.

      From there, I discovered Jason Glass, a member of the Titleist Advisory Board, and a Rotational Sports Strength and Conditioning Expert. Jason has provided a lot of input for TPI. He also has several online programs like his 16 week LoadXplode course for developing Rotational Power which I’ve never regretted enrolling in. I highly recommend theTPI website as well as Jason Glass.

      Reply

      Leslie Finke

      2 years ago

      I have followed TPI ever since it was a regular program, several years ago on the Golf Channel. I would be thrilled to see it return, even if they are reruns!

      Reply

      Doug Hill

      2 years ago

      Great article, Chris. Could you disclose what the cost is for the evaluation and program they created for you? Thanks.

      Reply

      Regis

      2 years ago

      Don’t know if this helps. I’ve been through years of PT Went to TPI website with the same curiosity. Site lists several providers in my area. Hooked up with one, very knowledgeable and pleasant. First thing they did was investigate insurance rebursemenf possibilities. You never know. Many carriers (including Medicare) are very proactive on encouraging fitness
      May need a doctor’s referral. Usually there are co-pays and visit limits. Once that’s wrapped up they’ll send me their recommended plan. Off the street, no insurance my prospective therapist charges $100 for the initial evaluation. Some provide a free initial visit. So that’s why there is no simple answer. This is more golf specific therapy and it parallels every rehabilitation provider I’ve dealt with for a lot of body parts.. Sometimes. It’s cheaper to go outside insurance, sometimes not. It’s like bringing your car in and asking on the phone and asking how much it’s gonna cost before they know what’s wrong with it.. But it costs nothing to call a provider and ask them .

      Reply

      Doug Hill

      2 years ago

      Great info. Thanks for the post!

      Chris

      2 years ago

      I did TPI for a while and then my instructor moved away and I just continued the plan that I had started but my progress stopped. A year ago I found Par4Success which takes a similar approach and I believe a few of the instructors are TPI certified. Following their plan I have gone from a 6 hdcp to a 1 hdcp.. My point is there is improvement to be had in 30-60 minutes per day using this approach.

      Reply

      Everardo

      2 years ago

      Having just had back surgery I was specifically searching for TPI Certified professionals to help me. That’s how I found my trainer, Nick (https://www.yourtrainernick.com) and he’s been awesome to work with.

      Having a TPI professional was super important so that I could work with someone who understood my body, limitations and how to adapt everything specific to golf so that I wouldn’t get injured again.

      Reply

      Rob R

      2 years ago

      TPI has a sister organization for baseball and softball called OnBaseU, also founded by Dr. Rose. The same screening is applied since both sports are rotational in nature. Everything is science based, meaning the information is both quantifiable and measurable and therefore defensible. These guys know their stuff and are the best in the business in identifying and explaining how YOUR physical limitations limit your performance and providing you a roadmap to overcome those limitations. My son, who was a pitcher, had limited hip mobility that limited his throwing velocity and swing speed. Specific exercises and stretches helped him overcome those limitations.

      Any of their certified instructors should be able to work with golfers to apply their protocols and help unlock potential.

      Reply

      Tee Lassar

      2 years ago

      Little question in my mind that fitness programs like TPI (and there are MANY) can lead to game improvement. No questions that physical limitations affect the golf swing.

      Reply

      Andrew T

      2 years ago

      I went to the TPI website but it doesn’t say what the different certifications mean. The website is not terribly informative for a potential client/customer. Could you answer these questions about TIP?

      1. What is “TPI Certified Level 1” certification? What can we expect from working with someone with that certification?
      2. What is “Fitness Level 2” certification? What can we expect from working with someone with that certification?
      3. What’s the difference between a “Fitness Professional” and a “Golf Professional” in the context of this column? That is, in the context of this column, which one am I looking for?

      Thanks!

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      2 years ago

      Andrew – Let me do some digging and see what additional information I can provide.

      Reply

      Regis

      2 years ago

      golf4me

      Ben Salisbury

      2 years ago

      Hey Andrew… My name is Ben. I work with TPI.  Great questions!  Hope these answers can help.

      1) Golf coaches, fitness and medical professionals take our TPI Level 1 course to learn TPI philosophies and how to physically screen golfers for common limitations that may affect their swing.  Everyone who takes Level 1 has access to our Pro app which can help with screening and basic drills/programming, but the application of the screen results will look different for a golf coach vs a fitness professional vs a medical professional.  

      2) We have a number of advanced Level 2 and Level 3 tracks (Golf, Fitness, Medical, Power, Junior) available for professionals interested in diving deeper into our approach as it relates to their specific field.  Someone who has taken Fitness Level 2 will have learned our strength and power screens, various mobility, strength, power and functional exercise progressions, as well as an intro to Olympic lifting, nutrition and key considerations for training female athletes.

      3) Great question.  A fitness professional is someone who specializes in training golfers off the course in some capacity (“fitness” is such a broad term so the workout program will vary depending on their individual focus/business, e.g. traditional S&C, group HIIT, pilates/yoga, etc).  Golf professionals are golf coaches/instructors.  One of our core philosophies is that we believe in a “team approach” meaning we want golf coaches to communicate with fitness professionals so that everyone is on the same page re: a client’s goals/programming, but we don’t want golf coaches to also act as fitness professionals (or fitness professionals to also act as their client’s golf coach).

      Let me know if you have any additional questions!

      Reply

      Andrew T

      2 years ago

      Ben, many thanks for the great info! I’m very grateful.

      Everardo

      2 years ago

      Great information and reply Thank you!

      Ben Salisbury

      2 years ago

      Hey Andrew… My name is Ben. I work with TPI. Great questions! Hope these answers can help.

      1) Golf coaches, fitness and medical professionals take our TPI Level 1 course to learn TPI philosophies and how to physically screen golfers for common limitations that may affect their swing. Everyone who takes Level 1 has access to our Pro app which can help with screening and basic drills/programming, but the application of the screen results will look different for a golf coach vs a fitness professional vs a medical professional.

      2) We have a number of advanced Level 2 and Level 3 tracks (Golf, Fitness, Medical, Power, Junior) available for professionals interested in diving deeper into our approach as it relates to their specific field. Someone who has taken Fitness Level 2 will have learned our strength and power screens, various mobility, strength, power and functional exercise progressions, as well as an intro to Olympic lifting, nutrition and key considerations for training female athletes.

      3) Great question. A fitness professional is someone who specializes in training golfers off the course in some capacity (“fitness” is such a broad term so the workout program will vary depending on their individual focus/business, e.g. traditional S&C, group HIIT, pilates/yoga, etc). Golf professionals are golf coaches/instructors. One of our core philosophies is that we believe in a “team approach” meaning we want golf coaches to communicate with fitness professionals so that everyone is on the same page re: a client’s goals/programming, but we don’t want golf coaches to also act as fitness professionals (or fitness professionals to also act as their client’s golf coach).

      Reply

      Andrew T

      2 years ago

      “…or b) try opening your lead foot to help encourage a more complete turn/backswing”

      Wouldn’t you want to open your *trail* foot to help encourage a more complete turn/backswing?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      2 years ago

      Good catch – I mean to include the option of “raising your lead heel and/or opening one or both feet” – Thanks!

      Reply

      Don O

      2 years ago

      Coincidental to this article, my plan for the winter is to work with the TPI certified pro at the WI Premier Fitting site. On the fitting side, they hav done their best with me. Now time for me to do my best with my body. Scratch golf is not my objective but maintaining me in my 70’s into my 80’s is important enough for me

      Reply

      Aaron

      2 years ago

      I really enjoyed this article. A few years back, in the year of my marriage, I was intent on getting in shape. so I could look great for the big day. The best side-effect of this was seeing how my golf swing, and subsequently my golf game, changed. I wasn’t “swinging tired” by the end of my round. I felt like I was rotating more and making crisper contact. The next time I found the energy to dedicate more of my time to my fitness, I specifically sought out exercises that would maximize my golf swing and to this day I feel more confident over the ball. I am definitely going to look further into this program.

      Reply

      Keith

      2 years ago

      Good intro into the TPI, I hadn’t heard of this. I did a quick search, quite a few Experts in my area. Can you share some of the basic costs?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      2 years ago

      Keith – Good question and I didn’t want to include any specific costs as they tend to vary based on the level of expertise and training of the coach.

      Reply

      Scott Schroder

      2 years ago

      Excellent article, very insightful. Myself like millions out there, often tweak this and that in our swing, and occasionally seek a lesson to apply a quick fix. As all anatomy’s are different a custom plan to strengthen our individual deficiencies might “Ah Ha” moment we’ve all been seeking.

      Reply

      Len Dillon

      2 years ago

      Great article….the transition of athletic golfers continues.
      Please tell me more about this River Bear bacon!!
      Take care / be safe

      Reply

      Andrew T

      2 years ago

      “…or b) try opening your lead foot to help encourage a more complete turn/backswing.”

      Wouldn’t it be opening our *trail* foot that would help encourage a more complete turn/backswing?

      Reply

      Andrew T

      2 years ago

      Sorry, I’m not sure why my comment became a reply to yours instead of a standalone comment. I’ll try again!

      Reply

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