Stuart Appleby promotes The Leaderboard for strength and swing training
I like to work out. I like to golf. The problem is that I rarely feel that these two pursuits complement one another, at least in the way I do them.
Two days ago I took part in a media conference call with Stuart Appleby, who recently won the Mercedes Championship in Hawai’i for the third year in a row. During that tournament, he hit three drives over 400 yards, including one that measured 426 yards. The topic of the call was The Leaderboard, a combination strength trainer and swing trainer that Appleby has helped develop and has personally invested in.
This last fact is in itself a bit unusual: Golfers are all too happy to take money to promote a product, but rarely do they put their own money into one.
Apparently it is turning into a good investment, with several Tour pros (Jeff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Robert Allenby, Heath Slocum) working Leaderborad training into their practice routines.
According to Appleby, the device was developed in collaboration with Vern McMillan, who used to train Olympic athletes. The idea was to incorporate Pilates-style movement with the golf swing to increase stability and strength from the knees to the lower ribcage. Appleby claims, “This area is the key to controlling the whole golf swing.”
Given my desire to mix swing and strength training, I was intrigued.
I have to admit that on first blush, The Leaderboard (MSRP $200) looks treacherous: It’s got two aluminum rails with two Astro-turf covered foot pads and a third separate pad on which you can tee up a golf ball. The leading foot pad (for your left foot if you’re not a frea…er, leftie) is fixed, while the hind pad slides on the rails. At rest, the sliding pad is next to the fixed pad. When you take your stance, your right foot slides the pad to the opposite end of the rails. A series of bands create an adjustable level of resistance.
When you swing (with or without a club), your back foot slides up toward your front foot as you transfer your weight. According to Appleby and the promotional materials, the effect is one of strengthening the lower body, promoting balance and tempo (I can easily see myself toppling off during my usual too-hard, ballistic swing), and eliminating extraneous movement.
“The Leaderboard doesn’t like extra movement,” says Appleby.
Appleby’s been working with The Leaderborad intensely for the last two to three years, and credits it with his increased distance and better overall swing. He went so far as to guarantee that any golfer—no matter the handicap—will be able to feel the difference in his or her swing after just a few minutes on the device. Still, he recommends using it in conjunction with lessons from a PGA professional and concerted practice.
“We didn’t want it to be just for pros,” he says. “We’ve designed it to be idiot proof.”
Really? Then it might even work for a certain blogger we all know and love.
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