How Hip Surgery Can Affect Your Golf Game – An Interview With Kurt Brown

How Hip Surgery Can Affect Your Golf Game – An Interview With Kurt Brown 619 316 teamhri

People considering hip replacement surgery are often concerned about how it will affect their golf game. We sat down with Kurt Brown, a PGA professional instructor and Director of Instruction at the Encanto Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona to talk about playing golf with limited mobility. What he had to say might surprise you. It sure surprised us.


Encanto Golf Course was built in the 1930’s and designed by a world-renowned architect William Bell, whose legacy includes one of the most cherished PGA Tour stops of the modern era, San Diego’s Torrey Pines. But well before he broke ground by the ocean he made the Valley of the Sun his residence for a time in the 30’s and left his mark with some of the finest courses ever constructed. The enduring fascination with Encanto’s playability is evident when contrasting the coterie of older gentlemen who gather there for an eighteen-hole walk and a round or two after in the bar with the throngs of junior players who flood the fairways for junior events. Each enjoying the test only a timeless design can provide both scratch and high handicap golfers.


On this day the course was less busy than usual so we were able to chat with Coach Brown at length about what it is like playing with limited mobility and what players experiencing those difficulties can do to better their scores. Kurt went to Ferris State University which boasts the top-rated Golf Management Program in the United States. Upon graduation, he went to work at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was there and at the Titleist Performance Institute where he honed his skills as an instructor and furthered his education in the body mechanics of the golf swing. So, naturally, our first questions were about the body mechanics of playing with a less than functional hip that would soon require minimally invasive hip replacement surgery.


Golfers with hip pain swing to avoid excessive hip rotation. Coach Brown says, “we can always limit a swing away from pain, but we don’t need to.” The physical demands of a proper swing are not incompatible with an arthritic hip. “Pain limits speed and power… the reason people get hip replacements is to increase (their) range of motion and to decrease pain.” So, if you have been putting off minimally invasive hip replacement surgery because you are worried about what effect it will have on your golf game then you’ve been hurting your game. You don’t need a new shaft or driver when a new hip or knee will pick up an additional thirty or fifty yards practically overnight.


A traditional hip replacement surgery involved opening a patient with a large incision that would totally sever primary muscles. The patient would require an extended hospital stay and typically be on narcotics through a substantial portion of their recovery. Surgeons today perform hip replacement surgery using less invasive approaches such as superPATH and the anterior approach. These newer approaches have fewer complications and faster recovery. They both give surgeons access to the hip through incredibly small incisions that spare the muscles from major damage.


Typically, patients can walk hours after surgery and do not require narcotic pain medication during their recovery. If you cannot find a surgeon who meets our established positive outcome-based criteria, contact us and we will find one in your area for you.

Next, we asked Coach Brown about post-operative golf swing work, how do you get back in the game and how quickly can you do it? Coach says the first thing is to “listen to the people who the people who understand your body.” So, consult your surgeon and physical therapist before going out to the range. Coach also warned to be wary of “the early adaptation period.” When you come out of surgery your brain knows your hip is fixed and ready to play, but while your brain is good at telling your muscles what to do, your muscles don’t quite work at the same speed. So, they still think they’re compensating for your hip and end up doing harm while trying to help.


Use this period to work on putting and short game, really let the rest of your body catch up before swinging a club at full speed again, as Coach Brown says, “start small.” Your patience will be rewarded with renewed health and a newfound faith in your putter and wedges if you follow our tips from earlier in the week about how to recover like Tiger. If you absolutely must hit a golf ball down range again, we encourage you to work on your full swing as slowly as possible. Try hitting twenty golf balls thirty, sixty, then one hundred and twenty yards with a full swing in order to let the body relax and understand its new capabilities.


Coach says working from “the ground up in the golf swing” is the biggest factor in increasing speed. The footwork and weight transfers required to in an efficient golf swing with a high smash factor are best learned and absorbed at slow speeds. This is how the best players in the world learned these moves when they were younger. If you embrace the slow-motion drill you will develop better muscle memory, weight transfer and understanding of your swing in the process.


What surprised us most about our interview with Coach Brown was how overtly obvious it was to him that delaying a minimally invasive hip replacement surgery would harm a player’s golf game. From our familiarity with the research and relevant data we knew that would be the case going into the interview, but we somewhat expected the conversation to end at limiting the swing away from pain. Instead we were refreshed with a discussion about post-operative increased range of motion that allow for swing changes to bolster speed and can have players playing better golf than before they were injured.


For a long time, many people who absolutely needed a new hip were told they were too young for a hip replacement surgery. Times have changed. Today nobody is too young for a minimally invasive hip replacement surgery. Similarly, the old notion that some people were too heavy, and would wear out their implant, has changed as well. No one is too heavy for minimally invasive hip replacement surgery.

If you have been struggling with hip pain that keeps you from doing the things you would like to be doing in your life it is time to find a surgeon and seriously consider minimally invasive hip replacement surgery. Life is too short to spend any more of it suffering. If we have one more parting piece of advice it’s this, when you are ready to swing a golf club again, contact Coach Kurt via his website or on Instagram @bigkurt_golf

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