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Former Golf: Perks starts new phase of career

Former Golf: Perks starts new phase of career

Former Golf: Perks starts new phase of career

Craig Perks is entering the next phase of his golfing life, one that for once is going to keep him close to his adopted home of the last two decades.

It’s also going to combine two of his passions – golf and physical fitness – into a program that is revolutionary in the area of golf instruction, and those in Acadiana who are serious about improving their game will reap the benefits.


The 2002 Players Championship winner and eight-year PGA Tour veteran has been named Director of Instruction at Le Triomphe, virtually his home course since he arrived in Lafayette in 1989. The program he plans, however, is going to encompass much more than tinkering with people’s swings.

In fact, he prefers the term "performance institute."

"What we’re creating is cutting edge," said Perks, who was involved Monday in a host role for the annual Mike Heinen-Craig Perks Holiday Classic at Le Triomphe. "It used to be all about equipment and instruction, but this program will bring in fitness to the whole package. We’ll apply that information to help people swing better and improve their game."

Perks, a former All-American at UL after growing up in New Zealand, was a fanatic about health and fitness throughout his 15 years of touring as a professional golfer. But it was only in the last couple of years that he found a way to match his golf game with his conditioning, and that came through working with the Titleist Performance Institute.

That $10 million facility in Oceanside, Calif., was something Perks had been looking for his entire professional life.

"I learned the importance of specific performance conditioning as it relates to golf," he said. "I was very strong in a lot of ways, I had a trainer for years and I was in phenomenal shape, but I was still lacking in a lot of areas and I didn’t realize it until I went through their program."

Perks finished in the PGA Tour’s top 150 on the money list four straight years from 2000-2003, highlighted by a storybook win in the 2002 Players meet where he became the first player to take his inaugural win at the event.

Winning there gave him a five-year Tour exemption and allowed him into tournaments he’d only dreamed of playing. But his game struggled over the last three years, and he found himself wanting to cut back on the never-ending travel and spend more home time with wife Maureen and his two children (now 11 and 9).

"The last two and a half years were extremely frustrating from a competitive standpoint, but it was immensely rewarding from a learning standpoint," Perks said. "I met and worked with some of the greatest teachers and minds in golf."

One of those stops was at the Titleist institute, where he was put through a comprehensive 12-step screening program including flexibility, stability, endurance and strength. He saw improvement after only a few weeks – once he realized that, as fit and strong as he was, he was still coming up short on several of the screens.

"I wish I’d gone there sooner," he said. "I learned where my weaknesses were hurting my game. TPI had hooked me."

After he played in this fall’s Disney Classic to wrap up his final competitive season, he took part in an education program at TPI and is now certified as a Level I and Level II golf fitness instructor. He became the first PGA Tour winner to get certification.

"It is that experience that he will bring to an under-construction training and teaching facility at Le Triomphe.

"My passion has always been on the fitness side," he said, "and after you go through this program, you can see where strengths and weaknesses are, and those run directly in line with people’s swing faults. It’s not a mass training because everybody’s body is different, and once the weaknesses are detected, I’m now able to show how those weaknesses affect the swing and I can provide muscle activation and body awareness drills to counter those weaknesses and improve the overall golf experience."

Similar programs are beginning to emerge among Tour players, especially since Tiger Woods’ success promoted the idea of golfer as athlete, but the Titleist group is easily the leader in the field.

"They’re number one and I’m not aware of anyone else that’s that golf specific," Perks said. "It’s really built to help golf performance."

Along with having Perks, Le Triomphe is building its own teaching and performance facility next to its current practice area. Construction is aimed at completion in the spring and will include facilities for physical screens and video swing technology.

"This certainly takes us to a new level and a new direction in our instruction," said Le Triomphe club pro David Church. "People have been teaching on the range for years, doing things a certain way, but this gives us a chance to improve players’ physical limitations and gives the best opportunity to make a good golf swing."

"I know this works," Perks said. "I’ve lived it. I know if I had this earlier my results would have been a lot better."

Perks hopes to begin his instructional programs as soon as the all-weather facility is completed, and he said that the program and instruction will be available to all golfers and not restricted to Le Triomphe members.

"We wanted to wait for the building to be there because we want this to be first-class," he said. "We want people to be blown away by what this will do for their game. We’re not going to cut any corners.

"We can provide the exercises and the instruction and I’ll provide the passion, but players will still have to do the work.”

Golfers interested in receiving more information may contact Perks by e-mail at cperks@letriomphe.com.

Dan McDonald’s local golf column appears each Tuesday. Clubs, courses and individuals wishing to submit items may call 289-6318, fax to 371-3341, e-mail dmcdonald@theadvertiser.com or mail to 1100 Bertrand Drive, Lafayette, LA 70506. Please include a return phone number.