RUSKIN — Shannon Kneisler believes in helping every golf student learn ways to play well without injuring their body.
Many of those who have already suffered injuries say her techniques have helped them avoid pain by changing their swing.
Bill Francis, lifestyle director at Riverside on Stephens Road south of Ruskin, said he knew a lot of people living in and around the senior community who could use help to overcome their limitations so they could enjoy playing the game.
“Golf is a big draw here at Riverside,” Francis said. “Every single person who attended participated in the exercises and said they enjoyed them.”
Wendy Sue Johnson agreed.
A new resident of Florida, Johnson moved from Michigan earlier this year.
“I was winning First and Second places in our GM (General Motors) tournaments (where she worked). I’ve always been very athletic, playing softball well into my forties. But I learned a lot from Shannon. I think everybody who attended did.”
There were about 50 attendees, she said. Unfortunately a death in the community prevented a larger attendance.
Johnson hopes Kneisler will be invited back soon.
In a rather lengthy telephone interview with Kneisler following the clinic, I found she has a very unusual story.
As a child she was very intense in dance and soccer and by 14 her knees were already giving out.
“My dad said I would have to find another sport. He was a golfer, so we decided I would try that. At first, I must admit, my reaction was to tell him, ‘I will never play that old man’s sport,’ but the first time he took me out, I had a natural swing.”
Golf came very easily to her, and she began winning tournaments almost right away.
“I didn’t even know the rules when I started playing in tournaments,” she told me. “My dad had to yell them to me as I played and I learned as I went.”
She noticed that the trophies she had received for other sports were small while her first golf trophy was several feet tall.
“At 14, I thought, wow, this trophy is so big!”
And that — to the 14-year-old, was a real kick.
Traveling with the LPGA after only a few months of play, she progressed nicely for 15 years, until an automobile accident changed her life.
She said that before that accident, she had never been able to understand why golf seemed hard for others and easy for her. Then 128 head of cattle broke through a fence and entered Interstate 27.
“They escaped during a thunderstorm,” she explained. “A semi had run over nine cows, and had eight of them pinned under the truck. The ninth – a Texas Longhorn – was thrown through the air and landed on the front end of my Nissan.”
She received many upper body and spinal injuries that led to months and months of therapy.
“Then I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
More than a year of therapy took her off the course and opened up a career as a golf commentator and analyst. It was then that she began developing her methods of learning, and teaching the game in ways that could be adapted by all sorts of people who either couldn’t play anymore, or hurt when they did.
She has obtained degrees in kinesiology and business and continued education in biomechanics.
Looking up “kinesiology” I found that it is the science of human movement; falling into the category of physiology related to exercise, and that in Canada, kinesiology has been designated a regulated health profession.
Her unofficial title as the “Anatomy Golf Coach” has brought her students with a wide range of serious injuries, chronic pain and even limb failures.
She credits much of her knowledge to her good friend and mentor, Dr. Taras V. Kochno of Bradenton, a much-respected authority in athletic performance, sports related injuries, and in the treatment of chronic pain caused by muscles and joints.
“All our body types are different,” she told me. “We can’t all teach, or play, the same way. Each person has to learn his or her body’s assets and liabilities.”
Francis said some who practice what she teaches them improve their game by 5 to 10 strokes in just a few months as well as getting the better benefit of relief from pain.
“People walk away with a whole new attitude,” he said.
To find out more about Shannon Kniesler, or contact her about a clinic, visit http://golfwithshannon.com