The Kinetic Swing System at Okemo Valley Golf Academy in Ludlow, VY promises to make you a better golfer that's less prone to injury
Okemo Valley's Golf Academy Teaches the Kinetic Swing
by Christine Lynn Harvey

The Golf Academy of Okemo Valley Golf Club's Kinetic Swing Players School located in Ludlow, VT can help you not only become a better golfer, but a more efficient one and most importantly, a golfer who is less prone to injury. The Kinetic Swing System is built on a fundamental concept of biomechanics and the function of the entire kinetic chain.

Michael Bentley, PGA pro and founder of the Kinetic Swing, has taken 15 years to develop his system which is based on a fundamental concept of biomechanics and the function of the entire kinetic chain. He consulted physicists, biomechanists, athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports optometrists, podiatrists, sports physiologists, sports psychologists and strength and conditioning coaches to perfect his system. Bentley gained insight into this system while working in an orthopedics research lab where one of his main jobs was to analyze baseball pitching and hitting draft picks to determine how good they were and to also determine how susceptible they would be to injury down the road. This naturally segued into testing professional golfers since Bentley himself was a pro golfer taught in the classical style by his father, also a PGA pro. The Kinetic Swing system is so innovative and effective it's only a matter of time before Bentley's techniques sweep the golf world.

"Most golfers were taught classically. We were taught to rotate the hips towards the target, but this puts tremendous pressure on the lower spine which was not meant to rotate 50% forward," says Bentley as he holds a model of a spine and points where there are little "doorstoppers" on the lower lumber to prevent them from overpronating. "They're only meant to rotate 10%. This is why 15% of all golfers pull out of tournaments," he says. Most golfers overcompensate because they are so out of balance and this is what eventually leads to injury.

Bentley shows his students the peaks and valleys in the graphs of golf swings of Annika Sorenstam, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo. According to the graph, maximum club head speed is often achieved before or after impact, in effect causing the kinetic chain of momentum to be out of sync. The surprising thing is, even though PGA tour players are great golfers, they don't always have the most efficient swing. Todd Beckmann, a Kinetic Swing instructor says, "The idea of the Kinetic Swing is like driving a golf cart fast and then stopping short. What's going to happen? The occupants in the cart will fly forward with the kinetic motion that's been created. The same is true with the Kinetic Swing."

On the wall hangs a model of the Kinetic Swing pyramid. "We start with the feet first, with your stance," says Beckmann, "because your knees follow your feet, your hips follow your knees, your shoulders follow your hips, shoulders follow hips, arms follow shoulders, hands follow arms, clubface follows hands. That's the kinetic chain of momentum we're talking about." The academy is quick to point out that its system is all scientifically quantified. Students are videoed at the beginning and end of class. The instructors use computer analysis to compare before and after postures and golf swings of students. "You don't know what you are doing wrong or right until you see it for yourself on a screen," says Marty Harrison, a female instructor who volunteers with Okemo's highly popular women's golf school.

Simple concepts like keeping the spine straight and not hunching over in your stance will give your arms greater range of motion and keep you on an inside swing path. Ankles, knees and hips should all be stacked over one another and weight should be kept on the balls of the feet not on the heels or toes. Simple exercises like hitting balls while standing on a foam roller or balance board teach students that hitting solid and accurate shots depends on maintaining balance through all stages of the swing. Bentley's science backs all this up. "The swing graph would show greater peaks and valleys once you get the hang of staying in balance through all aspects of your swing," he says. "It's all about re-educating the muscles and nerve pathways of your body and mind."

Students are given some classroom theory and then are sent out into the field to practice their drills. All aspects of the game from driving, sand play, chipping, pitching and putting are covered. Sports-specific strengthening and flexibility exercises, course management skills and the mental approach to the game are also thrown into the mix. A considerable amount of time is spent on the golf course applying the skills just learned. Other issues including how to handle uphill and down hill lies, bad lies and reading greens is covered as well.

After class each day, students are encouraged to play 18 holes on Okemo Valley's course, but they warn students not to overanalyze and think too hard about what they just learned. "Just go out there and have fun," says Harrison who tags along with the female players and offers coaching only if asked.
Okemo Valley Golf Club provides an excellent setting to learn your new golf skills. The course is home to the Vermont PGA Championship and provides breathtaking views of Okemo Mountain. The 96 sand traps and most of the undulating greens challenge your best short game skills. The Golf Academy's 18 acre outdoor Learning Center includes: 31,000 sq ft practice tee, 120 yard pitching range, 370 yard driving range, 7 target greens, 4 practice greens, 11 greenside and fairway bunkers and a 3 hole performance course. The academy's indoor facility includes a 6,000 sq ft practice area, large putting green, 3 swing stations, full swing virtual golf program, 2 academy classrooms and a science lab. Classes are held regardless of weather. It's a good idea to bring a change of clothes since Vermont's mountain weather is known to change without warning.

There are different programs within Okemo's Kinetic Swing School designed for every level of golfer and are run between two to four days depending on the class: The Kinetic Swing Skills School for beginners, Kinetic Swing Players School for mid-level handicap players, Kinetic Swing Tour School for advanced players and the Kinetic Swing Women's School exclusively for women. Each program includes 5 hours of daily instruction weekdays (8:30-2:30 pm) or 6 hours of daily instruction weekends (8:30 am-3:30 pm), lunch each day at Willie Dunn's Grille, greens fee (18 holes) with cart during each instruction day, unlimited use of the practice facility during normal hours of operation, personalized Kinetic Swing book and CD to take home and an Okemo golf gift.

For more information, contact Okemo Valley Golf Academy, 77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, VT 05149 call 877-396-GOLF 4653; visit www.okemo.com or www.bentley-golf.com, or email golf@okemo.com (For a review of Okemo’s sister golf course, Tater Hill, see page12 of this issue)

The Okemo Valley Golf Academy offers computerized golf swing analysis
Instruction includes plenty of practice time on Okemo's 18 hole championship course
Instruction includes all aspects of your game. Here, students practice their putting skills.
State-of-the-art computer analysis helps diagnose what needs work on your golf swing
Tater Hill: Okemo's sister course, 20 miles from Okemo
Okemo's 17th Hole