Cara Kilgallen recently guest hosted an episode of our podcast show - We're Talking Golf
I hear a great deal about the high fitness level that professional golfers, both women and men, have attained over the past twenty years or so; there is no doubt that Tiger Woods and others have transformed the athletic aspect of this spectacular sport. Yet, how truly healthy are those who play this glorious game? Furthermore, what makes wellness of body, mind, heart, and soul so significant to the pursuit of all golfers including recreational ones?
These questions were sparked by the words of Golf Movement Expert and Performance Coach, Liesbeth Pauwels whom I had the honor of interviewing on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. “The end goal of everything I do is to help golfers to a better life and vitality,” says Pauwels. If you listen to our powerful podcast, you will discover far more and chances are your perspective on health and wellness – in relation to golf – will be transformed.
The holistic approach to wellness focuses on interconnections between physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. My conversation with Pauwels not only reinforced this philosophy, but our dynamic discussion also made me think deeply about golf and quality living. I often feel most alive when I am outside on the course, but much of this adrenaline comes from playing well. In contrast, Pauwels spoke about celebrating poor shots, something that I have never considered during my fits of frustration.
When she made this point during the podcast, I thought immediately about how a true test of athletic greatness is how someone responds not to victory, but to defeat. Anyone can be a terrific winner. It is the grace with which a person loses that illuminates a person’s true character.
I write quite a bit about golf as metaphor for life, and Pauwels has enlightened me on how this game functions both as art and sport. Her expertise in kinesiology informs and inspires the work that she does on movement – her knowledge and experience elevates her and her programs from idle chatter to that of a master practitioner, delivering a training regimen that encompasses all facets of wellness.
Pauwels’ philosophy of training does not start and end with the golf season. She trains clients all year round, incorporating a virtual platform through her LP Golf Performance Program. Consistency is the name of the game, of course, but not only in terms of technique. It is crucial, Pauwels pointed out, that all golfers (junior, recreational, professional, and senior) aspire to optimal health both on and off the course. She asserts that the optimal golfer is the healthy golfer – a person that rejects the idea that true wellness is one dimensional, but is instead multi-dimensional including physical strength, well balanced mind and body.
The game of golf takes time, much like the American novels that I teach; creating time and space in our lives for even a nine-hole round can be a complex challenge. Playing golf came up during my discussion with Pauwels who shared with us that since she has begun coaching, making her way out to play has been truly tough. Yet, with the proper mental and physical conditioning that her program provides, players can make their rounds more efficient and effective – even if they are few and far between. LP Golf Performance integrates meditation, yoga, sports psychology, physical therapy, and even life coaching to make the golf journey most gratifying, rewarding, and life-affirming.
In a previous post, I touched on these very topics of golf and health. What is it about golf that simultaneously aggravates and enthralls us? No matter how pitifully we perform at times, we always know that we will return. A few days after a horrific round, I play again – often with considerably less on my mind – doing significantly better. No, I didn’t shoot in the seventies, or even the eighties for that matter, but I felt pleased with my round and gratified to be back in the groove of my game.
It is certainly challenging to sustain mental and physical wellness through eighteen holes, which can translate easily into a five hour round! The game requires a continuous recharging the batteries of the mind and body, which frequently become exhausted from overuse or underuse.
I am far from an expert in health and wellness – teaching English literature is my field –, but I am convinced that golf both fosters and furthers one’s well-being along with that of the wider world. It may sound simplistic, but more folks out on the course golfing could contribute to a healthier society and a more well-balanced world.
Cara Erdheim Kilgallen is an Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Languages & Literature at Sacred Heart University. Of course, she is also an ardent and passionate golfer.
For more Liesbeth Pauwels & LP Golf Performance: