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Steadman Philippon Research Institute debuts new Golf Sports Medicine Program

Biomotion Lab added golf simulator and combined golf instruction with world-class data collection, body motion analysis and injury rehabilitation techniques

VAIL – Golf season in the Vail Valley has come to an end as the seasons change and the snow begins to fall, but that is not stopping the innovative team at Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) and The Steadman Clinic from helping golfers continue to play their beloved sport.

On Nov. 1, SPRI launched its new Golf Sports Medicine Program and opened a golf simulation lab as part of the world-renowned Biomotion Lab at its Vail headquarters. The unique combination of cutting-edge technology, golf instruction from a PGA Master Professional, and the use of medical data and research conducted in a world-class biomedical engineering facility make SPRI’s newest venture truly one-of-a-kind.

The Biomotion Lab at SPRI has always been focused on improving treatment of musculoskeletal injury and disease, preventing sports-related injury and maintaining and enhancing physical performance for individuals across the entire spectrum of age and athletic ability. This new program gives it the opportunity to provide all that focus, data and research on one specific sport — golf.



The SPRI Golf Sports Medicine Program utilizes state-of-the-art golf simulator technology alongside the cutting-edge advanced imaging technology within the Biomotion lab.
Linda Sampson/Courtesy photo

“Dr. Philippon initiated a golf sports medicine program in Pittsburgh when we worked together years ago. When we considered this new program at SPRI, we looked into simulator technology to blend the idea of a sport-specific golf program with our world-class advanced imaging and biomechanics research in our Biomotion Lab,” said Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of SPRI and The Steadman Clinic.

It didn’t take SPRI long to find the technology that Drawbaugh was seeking.



Within the Biomotion Lab, SPRI has installed a custom golf simulator that includes the Foresight GC Quad Launch Monitor — the most precise system available. Using infrared object tracking and high-speed, high-resolution camera technology, the system measures every aspect of club impact data and ball launch performance in addition to its highly accurate on-course simulation. When coupled with the leading-edge technology already employed in the Biomotion Lab, the Golf Sports Medicine Program can offer unique and valuable assistance to everyday golfers that simply want to continue playing golf as well and as pain-free as possible as they face the natural physical stumbling blocks that aging bodies so often endure.

Research assistants apply wearable sensors to a participant in SPRI’s golf sports medicine program.
Linda Sampson/Courtesy photo

“Throughout the course of my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of golfers,” said Dr. Marc Philippon, Managing Partner of The Steadman Clinic and Chair of SPRI. “From elite tour players to recreational golfers, one thing is common with all of these patients — wanting to get back on the course safely, and as soon as possible. Earlier in my career in Pittsburgh, I was the director of a Golf Medicine Program, and it has been a goal of mine to bring golf-specific biomechanics research and recovery to the labs at SPRI.”

“Our goal was to take advantage of the great resources we already had in the Biomotion Lab,” said Dr. Scott Tashman, Director of Biomedical Engineering at SPRI. “The golf program will employ the same cutting-edge technology that was developed for our advanced orthopaedic research programs and benefit from our extensive biomechanics expertise.”

Once the golf technology was in place, the next step was to add the golf teaching professional that could aid the golfers in improving their game. Drawbaugh and SPRI did not have to look very far to find the new program’s leader.

Program Director Steve Atherton is a PGA Master Professional — one of only 216 nationally. Twice named the Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year (2008, 2019), Atherton is an engaging golf instructor with extensive experience in the mechanics of the golf swing. From 2009-16 he was on Golf Digest’s list of Best Young Teachers in America, and he has published several articles in golf publications including Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine. He has served as the teaching pro at Eagle Springs Golf Club in nearby Wolcott for the past ten years. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade as Vice-President of Instruction at GolfTEC, one of the early frontrunners in using video and motion technology for golf instruction.

“This is an incredible facility,” Atherton said. “When somebody comes to our lab, they are going to have an amazing experience — a world-class experience. They will have the ability to measure things that very few other places in the world can measure. With my guidance as a teacher and the technology that we are using, our clients and patients should have everything they’ll ever need to play better and injury-free golf.”

“We see this program as a fulfillment of the ‘keeping-people-active’ mission that we constantly strive for here at SPRI and The Steadman Clinic,” Drawbaugh said. “There are a lot of golf performance programs out there, but there really aren’t any that are focused on helping people stay active and stay at the top of their game as they get older. That’s really what we are looking to accomplish here.”

“This program is at the heart of our mission,” Philippon said. “We are blending sports medicine care — curated for each patient and participant — with the unparalleled biomotion laboratory and golf-specific instruction. The Golf Sports Medicine Program will enable our patients to return to their sport safely after injury or surgery with the confidence gained from this world-class experience.”

Atherton put the new program’s mission in simple terms.

“We want our clients and patients to play the game. Play better. Play longer. Play pain free. We want them to continue playing the game that they love for as long as they wish, and always have fun doing it.”

For more information on the Golf Sports Medicine Program at SPRI, contact Steve Atherton (satherton@sprivail.org, 970-479-2050) or Lynda Sampson, VP External Affairs (lsampson@sprivail.org, 970-479-1563)


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