April 3, 2008

Golfer Who Got It Done: Michael McKinzie

Occupation: Marketing Executive For Gold's Gym

Home Course: Alpine Country Club, Highland, Utah

Handicap Improvement: 11.9 to 0.9

Years Playing: 12

Michael McKinzie dropped 40 pounds in the past year -- and 11 strokes off his handicap. Inspiration came from his 17-year-old son Ty, who has become a scratch golfer in two years and the No. 2 player on his high school team. "I thought, here's a kid who just picked up the game and already he's 10 times better than I am. How is that possible?" says McKinzie.

"Well, I looked at his flexibility and how he got through the ball, and I realized that getting back in shape was going to help me improve."

McKinzie's new regimen of cardio workouts and weight training has resulted in more flexibility and core strength. Throwing a weighted ball into a rebound net has helped strengthen his torso for golf, he says, and has checked his tendency to overswing. "I'm more balanced and stable, whether I'm hitting a wedge or a driver," he says.

But the biggest payoff for getting in shape was an improved mental game. "When you're out of shape, after a few holes things go to pot because you don't have the stamina," he says. "Last year, I was able to focus all through the round."

Visualization exercises also helped keep him in the zone. "I did some feel drills, like standing on the practice green, trying to visualize the cup with my eyes closed, and then walking to it to test my feel for distance," McKinzie says. "For me, a key part of putting is distance control, and it just came together for me last year. I wasn't trying to make every 25-footer, but when I did have a 10- or 12-footer, I really tried to hole it."