By Nick Totten, europeantour.com
From Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora
In the second of our two part look at the medical services available on the Challenge Tour at the D+D REAL Czech Challenge and beyond, europeantour.com sat down with osteopath to the stars of the future – Poora Singh – to get the scoop on what he and his colleagues do for the players.
As you descend into the bellows of the clubhouse at Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora, you might not expect to hear Hindi music, or hip-hop and R&B, blaring down the corridor. If you’re not expecting that, then you’ve clearly never been to a Challenge Tour event with Poora Singh.
Charismatic and up for a laugh, the 36 year old Osteopath from Birmingham has become one of the Tour’s great characters, but it’s not all chat from the man with a degree in Indian classical music – although it was tough to tell whether he was joking or not when he said that – there is a serious side too.
Singh has been working with the next generation of golfing talent for the past six years on the Challenge Tour, and the service has expanded since then to provide more than just the occasional rub down. Body screening, physiotherapy, osteopathy and general healthcare are all on hand to those who want it, with the quest for peak performance at the forefront of those involved.
Each week the physio on hand ploughs a lone furrow, passing on their years of experience to those who may have very little in their own field. For many of the players this may be the first time they have encountered injury, or the idea of high performance, and that makes for an interesting and educational dynamic that Singh really loves.
“For a lot of players this is the first time they have played on a professional tour,” explained the Thai Boxing enthusiast as he treated Austria’s Roland Steiner. “We are screening these guys, diagnosing them, telling them what is wrong, and where that might have come from. We then offer treatment, manual therapy, and also set them programmes for movement dynamics and stretching to make sure they don’t do it again.
“A lot of what we do is educating these junior players, telling them what they need to do for the next 20 years of their career. Telling them what the potential issues are with their body type, what could happen to them as a result, and what we expect them to do going forward.
“On top of that, we end up being everything. You’re the medicine guy, the pharmacist, the doctor, the nurse, the psychologist, the friend, the masseur, and as a result you make some really good friends along the way.
“The guys are so keen to learn this stuff. When they come to a tour like this, having played smaller ones, it is a whole new ball game. They might have their own personal trainers, coaches, their own styles of playing, but there are parts to being on Tour, to being a tour member. You are expected to be proactive about your body, be proactive about your health, and that is why myself and Doctor Andrew Murray are putting together a resource to give to the players on peak performance.
“That is the way all sport is going now, that’s where golf is going, and myself and Doctor Murray both deal with athletes at the elite level. It is all about peak performance whether it be to do with health, nutrition, strength conditioning, physical stability, technique or mental stability. We educate them on all of it, and you do end up as a bit of a jack of all trades.”
Golfers are not Singh’s only focus however, as he has been working with elite athletes throughout his career, including as a consultant on back injuries to Birmingham City Football Club, and an Elite Trackside Performance Therapist for British Athletics and their Olympic team.
Both are sports that would be more stereotypically focused on high performance and the proper training, but by offering the services now available on the Challenge Tour to those guys who want it, word is starting to spread with the golfers. In his six years on Tour Singh has seen plenty of changes, and the players are hungrier than ever to learn as much as they can in this field.
“This will be my sixth year on the Challenge Tour and there has been a big change,” said the man with 14 years of experience running his own practice. “When I first started out here it was more of a massage service, but we on the European Tour Physio Unit have pushed a lot of sports science and a lot of training and conditioning on to the Challenge Tour.
“On The European Tour they have plenty of people pushing the guys, but we don’t have that, so it is all about us pushing them to get a strength and conditioning coach, to have someone who is looking at their functionality, their movement dynamics, their stability. Everything.
“Nutrition is so important as well, and I want to be able to advise on what needs to be provided in the meals when players come in, as pasta and salad doesn’t cut it sometimes. They need to have all the proteins, vitamins, vegetables and minerals. We’re also now giving out training sheets and stretching programmes, which are tailored to individual players.
Golfers might not be thought of as likely to injure themselves, but there are plenty of common ailments that Singh has to treat every week, whether they be to do with the repetitive nature of playing the sport, or the toll taken on the body from all the travelling a modern day professional must do.
“Related to performance, we see a lot of back, hip, wrist and shoulder issues,” explained Singh. “Then there’s the travel and the effect that sleeping in a hundred different beds has. That tends to cause neck and back issues, which are very common, so you need to decipher what the guys are coming in with, whether it is a performance issue from their job, or a travel or side issue.”
It is a role that this particular Osteopath clearly revels in, and he is regularly seen chatting to the guys throughout a tournament day, and even having dinner with them of an evening. Challenge Tour through and through, he is still as hungry as ever to improve the service they provide to the players, and he’s not afraid to tell you about it.
“I’m happy to stay with Challenge Tour for as long as I can to drive it forward,” explained the man from the Midlands. “This is the junior tour, it is where they need to learn and get their education so they can make the changes they need to to be a peak player. That will give them the knowledge to make the right choices in the future.
“I love it. I really love it!”