Wherever Dr Rob Neal goes he creates a buzz of interest. If you are fascinated by the swing, he is one man you want to listen to. And when PGA Professionals with a year’s experience to seasoned coaches with a couple of decades to their names are saying ‘you gotta see this guy’ – you know all the hype is justified.
The king of golf biomechanics took a dozen students on a challenging and enthralling journey into swing understanding at the PGA’s training academy. Across an intense seven hours, in the class room and on the range, Neal covered some of the most important areas of the swing – transition, impact and lag, loading and weight transfer.
He broke the swing down into key segments with explanations, visuals and drills giving the dozen students a whole new understanding to pass on to their own pupils.
Craig Normansell, 26, who qualified as a PGA Professional 18 months ago, was so inspired by Neal he is already planning to specialise in biomechanics.
He said: “The session was fantastic. I loved it. Less than a day after completing the course I was already using Rob’s techniques to help my students swing better.
“My aim is to be a PGA Master Professional. I do a lot of courses. I have more than 100 CPD points already. But this was, without doubt, the best I have been to. And it is definitely the area of coaching that I want to get into.”
Derek Simpson, who has attended six seminars this year alone, was another PGA Advanced Professional who was using Neal’s systems on the practice range the very next day.
Simpson, who is based at The Belfry, said: “Rob made everything so simple to understand. I was using his drills with some of my clients straight away. It was very beneficial.”
Kirsty McDonald, 45, who qualified as a PGA Professional in ’96 and now teaches across Nottinghamshire, was equally impressed, adding: “It was informative and engaging. An excellent experience.
“A few hours with Rob and my own impact position has changed so much. I can’t wait to get out there and pass the knowledge on to all the people I coach.”
Andy Henderson, who has taught in Poland, China and is now based at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “It gave me a great deal more knowledge and drills that I can use when I teach.”
Neal explained: “It is about changing patterns of movement – and getting those changes to stick. The best way to do that is through drills so you can practice it, know it. Feel it.”
Neal set up his Florida centre of biodynamic excellence in 2000 where he combines a scientific approach with the practical skills necessary to bring about technical change.
He works in association with The Jim McLean Golf Schools, The Titleist Performance Institute and PGAs stretching across America and Europe.
With technology like TrackMan and 3D monitoring, Neal highlights how the swing should work and uses drills so students can build the muscle memory for improved performance.
His sessions are brimming full of expertise and broken up with quick demonstrations to ensure the knowledge is absorbed both physically and mentally.
And on the range, at the PGA’s National Training Academy, Neal was challenging his students to the max – by making them practice the other way around.
If they were right handed they hit balls with left handed clubs, if they were left, they swung to the right.
“By doing the drills left handed if you play right, you have a better sense of what students experience when they are learning this stuff for the first time,” Neal said. “When professionals are teaching, it might be easy for them – but what we always have to remember is that’s not how the student feels.
“When they cannot do something, they feel anxiety and that makes what they are trying to achieve more difficult. Getting the pros to swing the other way around helps that understanding of how hard it is when you are learning.”
For Normansell, who teaches at Barnet’s A1 Golf Centre, the experience of learning left handed was another masterstroke.
“As pros you can forget what it is like for someone just getting to grips with the game,” he said. It was another part of the course that was brilliantly done. It is a fascinating niche area of golf teaching and I would love to specialise in it after the day with Rob.”
** PGA Members interested in taking part in one of Rob Neal’s seminars check out the courses available in the PGA Members’ Area.