After playing golf for 25 years, Darwin Hutchinson decided he needed to see a doctor, a specialist in fact. No, he hadn’t thrown his back out or twisted his ankle in a goffer hole.

His swing was off.

The 56-year-old neighborhood resident, who owns a signage distribution company, didn’t know his posture was affecting his game until he enrolled in an innovative program at Doctor’s Hospital.

“Darwin has been with me three weeks,” says David Mendez, who was instrumental in adding golf to the roster of doctor’s sportscare programs he oversees.

“His posture has been a habit for so long that he is a bit tighter. We have stretched him out; he is more stabilized, rotating more. He doesn’t need physical therapy, just stretching.”

Within this specialized program, you can access a variety of packages ($125-500) at the hospital, all beginning with a 30-minute consultation at the Sports and Industry Care Center at Doctor’s. This include an assessment of a client’s golf fitness and golf swing, with the swing evaluated for structural problems that could result in musculoskeletal injuries and poor performance.

Mendez used a digital camera to show Hutchinson exactly how his posture affected his golf swing, and says the visual helps people “see for themselves.”

For his part, Hutchinson says he has “really noticed a lot of difference; mainly in my stance because I was bending too far out from the ball. My back was arched (now), my balls are hitting straighter.”

Lungren works on specific exercises at the hospital and others at home to help his flexibility.

Lungren says: “I first came in to just learn specific golf-related exercises to get rid of an old injury. The injury is gone, my flexibility is more than it has ever ben, and I have been hitting the ball again.”

Mendez debunks the view some have of golf as non-athletic: “Golfers are all getting stronger, more fit. For golf, you need flexibility, strength; the same things you need as a football player. People used to say ‘golf is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental’, and  I think that’s turning around a bit. Tiger Woods and these young, strong golfers are changing that.”

Mendez works on one-on-one with the client through their first few seasons, examining components such as flexibility, strength, hip range of motion, and posture because “if you don’t have those, you are trying to get that range of motion from somewhere else. The body needs to be prepared to do all of the rotating. If not, then it is just going to break down.”

After a few weeks with Mendez, clients are paired with a golf pro and begin to implement what they’ve learned about their game out on the fairway.

So, after beginning the program only three weeks ago, how does Hutchison feel? “Aggravated! I wish I would have known a long time ago,” he says, only half in jest. “I have played with so many guys that complain: ‘Oh, I’m hurting in my back.’ I want to be able to hit the ball and hit it proper, and keep myself from getting hurt.”

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