Golf Today Magazine - Cover Story
Jeff Blanchard - The Golf Doctor
By Leonard Finkel

In the world of golf, Jeff Blanchard is a triple threat. A former Commissioner of the California State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, Dr. Blanchard has been in private practice in California since 1980. He is the founder and Director of the Orange County Golf Center for Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA) and Pain Management at the Anaheim-West Outpatient Surgical Center. He is the “doctor who teaches doctors” how to diagnose and treat golf related injuries. Hundreds of physicians each year study with Blanchard.

Dr. Blanchard became a golf professional in 1998. He is also a design consultant for the Titleist Training Center, Taylor Made Golf and Ceramix Golf. Doc Blanchard has played professionally on the Pepsi, California, Tear Drop and Golden State tours, with a career low round of 62. As a student, Jeff has worked for five years with noted instructor, Bob Cisco, of the Ultimate Golf School. Based in Southern California, Cisco, the author of Ultimate Putting and The Ultimate Game of Golf, has also tutored major championship winners on the PGA Tour including Tony Jacklin (1969 British Open, 1970 US Open) Gay Brewer (1967 Masters) and Bobby Nichols (1964 PGA).



His passions for the game of golf and his medical career led Doc to merge these two diverse fields. An extensive medical background coupled with his knowledge of the game, gives him an exceptional understanding of the physical movements associated with the golf swing. Referring to Blanchard’s career low 62, Cisco points out that, “I must say that in many ways doesn't surprise me. Jeff is jewel and rarity as a student in that he can take the information, assimilate it and make it his own. Whether uncovering new approaches in the field of chiropractic or in golf, Jeff has a way of accomplishing rather amazing feats. As a healer, teacher and player, never before has there been this combination of skills.”

Swinging a Better Way…”Doc” Teaches Doctors

Blanchard has married his medical skills and his experience as a competitive golf professional to bring an unparalleled perspective to golf education. He organized a continuing education seminar for doctors, approved by the California State Board of Chiropractic Examiners for license renewal. In association with Innercalm Associates, he leads a seminar that focuses on teaching health care professionals how to assess and treat golf specific injuries. These seminars are scheduled twenty-four times a year primarily in California and other western states. The course has become so popular that a curriculum is in the works for a Chiropractic Board Certification Specialty in golf related injuries and patient care.

At these seminars, attendees are schooled in the mechanics of the golf swing to better understand the potential for injury and how the swing affects golf specific muscles. There are three fundamental causes of golf injuries: poor posture, lack of flexibility and poor swing mechanics. The root cause of poor mechanics is often the result of a physical restriction or mechanical dysfunction, which may very well be alleviated through chiropractic procedures. Lack of flexibility can also be addressed by treatment along with a prescribed a stretching program specifically designed around each patient’s restrictions. Obviously, Chiropractic care is ideally suited to deal with poor posture.

 

 

With a grasp of proper swing mechanics under their belt, attendees are then taken through the clinical protocol procedures designed by Dr. Blanchard for treatment. The golf swing is discussed in relation to how each area of the body is affected. Some restrictions and dysfunctions are curable, but the seminar also teaches methods that assist golfers in working through their restrictions, while enabling them to produce the best swing mechanics possible. As a part of the class, attendees spend time on a golf range hitting balls, and see firsthand the cause and effect that Blanchard preaches. His philosophy asserts that sound swing mechanics are essential to maintaining physical health and also lower scores.

Richard Cotton of Carlsbad, California, a corporate and individual fitness consultant specializing in custom fitness programs attended a recent seminar. Cotton, of First Fitness Inc. of Salt Lake City, Utah is the former Chief Exercise Physiologist and current spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. He says, “Dr. Blanchard teaches a very comprehensive flexibility and fitness assessment, which directly affects the golf swing.” Cotton adds that, “This information is more valuable than a lesson on the range. Blanchard’s introduction of the EZ light swing trainer device to trace the point of origin of the swing was enlightening. An illustration of a patient that developed wrist problems as a result of compensations from a flat swing was a great example of how a health care provider can work with a golf professional to the benefit of our golf patients.”

Feedback from attendees has been nothing short of fantastic. Dr. Paul Helzer of the Helzer Healing Arts Center, an all-encompassing facility in Bellflower, California utilizing a wide range of medical specialists including MD’s, Chiropractors, Orthopedists and physical therapists found Blanchard’s seminar, “Has made a tremendous difference. It has been beneficial to patients from both the medical and game improvement standpoints.” The facility has gone so far as creating an area where golf patients work with the swing light and video. Helzer adds that, “The mind-body analysis that Blanchard teaches has been a boost to our business. Chiropractors are body mechanics and understanding the dynamics of the golf swing has significantly aided our ability to help our golfers, rather than just commiserating with their problems.”

"Whatever shape you are in, this seminar will teach you how to swing properly, enjoy the exercise and minimize pain and soreness,” says Dr. Amy Aquarian of Santa Monica, President of the Physician's Council on Obesity. Dr. Diane Jordan of Redondo Beach, California wrote in that, “You don't need to be a golfer to LOVE this seminar. I left with an understanding of the golf swing and how to diagnose and treat golf injuries." "This is the best re-licensing seminar I have ever attended...EVER!!!,” wrote Dr. Karl Hoffower, Los Gatos, Ca. Blanchard has also worked as a chiropractic consultant to Scripps Clinics and the University of California, San Diego.

Corporate & Public Clinics

The “Doctor that teaches Doctor’s” is also bringing that knowledge directly to the general public as well as the corporate world. That he can train health care practitioners is a given, but that same information can also be shared, on a simpler level, with the average golfer. In these clinics, Blanchard begins by once again explaining the biomechanics of the swing, but in layman’s terms. The general theme and topics remain the same. Information is delivered from the standpoint of the golfer and the course he can take to assess his personal health and fitness situation in relation to his swing mechanics. At these clinics, more detail is paid to the golf swing itself, and somewhat less time is spent on the medical aspects. The six-hour clinic is a prerequisite to individual training. After a student has absorbed the seminar content, Blanchard‘s lessons are taught primarily via a 9-hole playing lesson format.

On the Cutting Edge…of Medicine & Golf

A recent injury brought me to Dr. Blanchard. A conservative approach to treatment failed to return me to health, so under the “Golf Doc’s” care; I underwent a procedure called Manipulation Under Anesthesia, a non - invasive surgical procedure for patients who suffer from chronic musculoskeletal disorders. MUA is an option for patients who failed to respond to previous conservative therapy. A result of a fall, two herniated discs were keeping me off the golf course and in serious pain. A prior disc injury had kept me away from the game for almost three years and required major neck surgery.

On three consecutive mornings, I was placed under a general anesthesia while Dr. Blanchard manipulated the affected area of my body. The anesthesia is necessary to discourage resistance during the procedure and avert a painful experience. Each successive day, the damaged area was able to be worked deeper and provide muscular release and relief from my agony. The procedure allowed me to play once again, pain free. It was such a spectacular success, that by the time this story is in print, I will have undergone an elective MUA at the Orange County Manipulation Under Anesthesia and Pain Center at the Anaheim West Surgical Center, on my shoulders and left hip.

 


MUA is not indicated for everyone who has back or neck pain. Careful selection and screening of the patient is essential. The MUA procedure is a gentle combination of repeated stretching and manipulation techniques to restore full and proper range of motion to affected areas. The procedure has proven to be most effective when working around the spine and shoulders. Indications for prospective MUA patients include nerve entrapment, chronic muscle pain, scar tissue, disc bulges and herniations, sciatica pain, and healed compression fractures. “MUA is usually performed as an outpatient procedure over the course of three days,” reports Dr. Susan Moein, MD, of the California Academy for Manipulation Under Anesthesia. The CAMUA provides State Board Certification for physicians who train to become specialists in MUA. With follow up physical therapy, research points out that approximately 70% of MUA patients can return to their normal work and active life style. According to Innercalm Associates, a 1999 paper issued by the International Spinal Injection Society indicated that 68.6 % of 177 patients studied were well enough to return to work and experienced no adverse effects. In addition to a chiropractic assistant on hand during the MUA, a medical doctor and a registered nurse specializing in OR techniques are always present during the brief procedure.

Blanchard Golf Injury Seminars

A rib cage injury Doc suffered during a tournament in Temecula, California gave rise to the idea for a golf school. Hitting 300 to 500 balls every day, compounded by poor flexibility was the root cause of his injury. For the next five months, Blanchard could swing a club, but any contact with a ball led to excruciating pain. Without the flight of the ball to give him feedback, Doc realized he had no idea if he was correctly rehearsing the proper swing path. “I taped small flashlights (later to be replaced by the more effective EZ Way Swing Light Trainer) to both ends of my clubs. After weeks of swinging in the garage, I discovered the exact origin of the swing plane for every club in the bag,” says Blanchard. “With an established plane of origin, I was able to practice perfectly, without hitting a golf ball,” Blanchard maintains. He began sharing his insights with friends. Before he knew it, he was getting referral calls to help other players. In June of 1999, the Blanchard Golf Injury Seminars debuted.

If you’re looking for game improvement, lower scores and you’re willing to commit to working, Blanchard’s Golf Injury Seminars might be just the thing for you. Dr. Blanchard offers no band-aids or quick fixes. His philosophy declares that to develop a solid golf game, an all-encompassing approach needs to be taken. “The old model of a teacher working with a student for an hour on the range, just doesn’t work,” Blanchard asserts. “That the average golf handicap has dropped only two tenths of a stroke over the last thirty years despite the advances in technology, demonstrates that a change is needed,” he forcefully adds. Dr. Blanchard’s approach is a comprehensive program dealing with four key components; Structure and physical conditioning, swing mechanics, nutrition and playing lessons.

Blanchard suggests potential students view his Swing Technology DVD as an introduction. Virtually all the great golf instructors stress the importance of the “swing plane” and it’s the key to Blanchard too. As part of the 6-hour program, every attendee of the workshop is taught to use an EZ Way Swing Light Trainer. The swing trainer literally illuminates the path and plane of your golf club, while you are swinging. This instant feedback is very important. Other fitness and workout aids are also introduced along with a conditioning regimen.

The day alternates between indoor work and ball striking sessions on the range. The workshops are limited in size, due to the personal nature of the instruction. There is also a take home workshop manual. Whether you sign up for the full Seminar or just a bit of individual instruction, playing lessons are an integral part of the program. Normally because of the time involved, a playing lesson is too costly for most students. Because Blanchard feels so strongly that this type of teaching and learning is vital, he keeps pricing inordinately low for the playing lessons.

 


I found the playing lessons to be especially helpful and have been playing better golf and scoring lower ever since. Each playing lesson, usually one-on-one, is catered to the students’ individual needs. “These lessons give the student the opportunity to take their training to the golf course under game conditions,” says Blanchard. No scores are kept and explanations are given at every turn. Blanchard stresses a shorter, more compact swing, particularly for players not regularly shooting in the 70’s. He had me hitting longer clubs using the more compact swing. Initially, I found it a bit awkward, but I quickly found my rhythm. For example, I would hit a 7-iron instead of an eight, maintaining better control of my swing motion. Controlling distance has never been my problem, so we worked on shot trajectory and direction.

Dr. Nicolai Lennox is a long time Blanchard student, who also happens to have a chiropractic practice in Del Mar, California. He boasts that, “ Jeff has given me way to understand what is going on with my swing. I have an approach to fall back on and get my swing back to where it belongs. The exercises I learned and using the EZ light work!” In his capacity as a medical professional, Dr. Lennox has also attended the Board Certified Continuing Education seminar and makes use of Blanchard’s methods in his practice.

Blanchard Golf Injury Seminars are highly personalized. I found it extremely beneficial, and at 8.1, my handicap is the lowest it’s ever been. Playing “Better Golf” isn’t easy, but if you’re willing to work at it, the effort certainly pays off.

Physician…Heal Thy (Golf) Self

Now 48, Doc seriously took up golf at 35 and turned pro ten years later. Paired with a PGA Tour player in a tournament at Torrey Pines, Blanchard felt that his game was not that far off the pro level. He wondered if he could compete at the top echelon, and committed to devoting 20 hours a week to training. “I’ve fallen in love with the everyday practice and necessary self-discovery to playing better golf. Practicing what I preach, I’ve reduced my handicap to a +1,” declares Blanchard proudly. Doc is happy with his game, but as an aspiring Senior PGA Tour player he reveals, “Shoot 69, and you get lapped by the field.” Personal instructor Bob Cisco says, “Jeff is fine tuning his game and mental focus to play the Senior Tour and from all indications, I would now say he is in position to accomplish that goal. No small feat I may add.”

Information on MUA, corporate and group clinics, speaking engagements or the Blanchard Golf Injury Seminars schedule can be obtained by calling: 805-772-8298 or at, www.GolfInjurySeminars.com


Leonard Finkel is the author of “The Secrets to the Game of Golf & Life”. He writes for and appears on the nationally syndicated TV show, “Links Illustrated”.


Copyright 2016 Golf Injury Seminars