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Game Improvement: An Anniversary of a Rekindled Love Affair



The evidence of a turning point. (MATT SUNDAY)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Since I lost the scorecard, I can’t pinpoint the exact date at this point, but it’s been essentially five years since I rekindled my love for golf.

I was on the back nine at Moon Golf Club, playing a complimentary round with a colleague, Matt Sunday. We worked for the same sports website at the time, and MGC was a prominent sponsor.

In that stage of life, I played golf when I could, but it wasn’t a priority. I was into my third summer covering the Pirates beat, so there just wasn’t a lot of opportunity to really dig into my swing. I still cared about playing well, but there just wasn’t enough gas in the tank to commit to improving.

Beyond that, my first child was less than a year old, making any ‘free’ time at home a little more spoken-for than I was used to previously.

But as Matt and I made the turn that August afternoon, something happened. I started making birdies.

As a younger man, when I was playing well, I was more about stringing pars together than putting a bunch of circles on the scorecard. It was different that day at MGC, though, and when a 40-footer from the fringe dropped on No. 17, I had four birdies in eight holes, pushing me to a 75 — my lowest score in several years.

I was enamored. Again. I’m not sure if anything special clicked that day in terms of technique or mentality, but the result was intoxicating.

Since then, my pursuit of golf excellence — or at least competence — has only intensified.

In 2018, I actually gasp committed to a real practice plan.and entered my first individual tournament since high school. In 2019, I won my yearly family golf trip for the first time and lowered my handicap enough to play in the West Penn Mid-Am.

Then, in 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, I got the wild idea to start this website and played more than I had in over a decade. Last year, I begun studying the science of golf power, first as a personal quest for clubhead speed, then formally as a student in Cal U’s golf performance grad program, with the thought that I could help others on their own expeditions.

So, here we are, five years down the line, and I just spent a few hours earlier today at a golf performance center where I work part-time, on top of spending the morning ordering yard signs to promote my own in-house golf fitness business.

(Thanks, Zack D’Ulisse, proprietor of Pittsburgh Clothing Co., for the awesome design work!)

It’s anyone’s guess how far I’ll be able to take this new branch of my career, but it’s rather remarkable to look at how a fresh avenue in life was born of hitting a few good shots and sinking a couple of putts over a 90-minute stretch.

But if you’ve played this game for any amount of time, I’m betting you understand it. We golfers always joke about that great shot — often late in a lost round — that brings you back to the course the next time.

Well, in this case, it’s brought me back again and again, to the point that I’m devoting part of most days to a career in golf performance enhancement. And, yes, I’ve used my own body and swing as a guinea pig for various training theories I’ve learned about over the past 18 months or so.

I know, how brave.

That aspect of it plays into my scientific nature, always wanting to experiment and see what happens from a variation here or an adjustment there. Which is probably why I took to golf as a youngster, that appeal of always having an option to change, and the proof of any theory manifest in how the ball behaves after it leaves the clubface.

It’s that sort of evidence-based exploration that I’ve built Gajtka Golf Performance upon, with help from the latest National Academy of Sports Medicine conditioning methods, the Stack System variable-inertia swing training program, and club- and ball-speed data from both Rapsodo and the sweet setup at Hartman Golf Rehab & Performance, just a few miles from my new home here in West Michigan.

My home away from home. (MATT GAJTKA/PGN)

And even though I’m no longer living in Western Pennsylvania, I can still help you get more out of your body and your swing from afar.

First of all, you can subscribe to my Patreon page for $5 per month for access to my weekly golf-fitness videos. Secondly, you can reach out to me at to set up a remote consultation, including a prescribed workout routine to get you started.

Fitter. Faster. Farther. These days, those are the words I’m living by when it comes to golf … and you can draw a direct line back to a Moon Township summer’s day in 2017 to explain how I’ve landed here in ’22.

A 15-year veteran of sports media, Matt Gajtka (GITE-kah) is the founding editor of PGN. Matt is a lifelong golfer with a passion for all aspects of the sport, from technique to courses to competition. His experience ranges from reporting on Pittsburgh's major-league beats, to broadcasting a variety of sports, to public relations, multimedia production and social media.

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