As a student at Fargo Shanley and the University of Portland, Lisa Schwinden took a liking to science. She also happened to be very good at golf.
Those two loves formed a marriage in the offseason for the head professional at Osgood Golf Course in Fargo and the result is one of the highest achievements for a teaching pro. She attained her Master Professional certification, one of 12 PGA females across the country to do so.
“It’s kind of like getting your doctorate in the PGA,” Schwinden said.
In that case, being a certified professional, which she did in 2007, is more like obtaining an undergraduate degree in the field. Taking the next step began with a canceled flight to the annual PGA show in Orlando, Fla., over a year ago.
After spending more than five hours in Hector International Airport trying to get another flight, which didn’t happen, she returned home with a weekend with no plans. That thought changed.
“I just said this is my moment where I should just sit down and start working on this project,” Schwinden said.
The project mainly entails a research project that has to be presented in front of a panel of PGA representatives. Her thesis revolved around the physics of the golf swing.
“I’m such a science guru so that was right up my alley,” Schwinden said. “Basically the point of the whole thing is I wanted to prove statistically that when you shift better and have more weight on your front foot at the impact, the golf shot is going to feel better.”
She got a big assist from Brittany Bruisma, the general manager at the Golf Addiction in south Fargo. One of its simulators is equipped with weight sensors in the floor.
The data consisted of 35 golfers hitting 15 balls each. They weren’t aware they were part of a study.
“It was a blind study,” Schwinden said.
She recorded where their weight was when the club hit the ball using a self-created scale.
“Then they told me how that golf shot felt to them,” she said.
Part of the project was going over past research, which Schwinden said was mostly “from real scientists doing tests on the golf swing.” The general consensus is 80 percent of a golfer’s weight is on the front foot at the time the club hits the ball.
“And you see that with tour players, look at their great finishes,” Schwinden said. “All good players finish with their weight completely on their front foot.”
Presenting her findings to the PGA panel was no lunch gathering.
“I taught a very nerve wracking lesson in front of impressive PGA professionals sitting in chairs and suit coats watching me,” she said.
The passing grade gave her another degree of sorts.
“I loved in college doing scientific projects like this,” Schwinden said. “It’s what I love to do. To do something like that with something you love like golf made it a lot of fun. It was a lot of work; I don’t know if I would sign up for it again but I’m glad I did it and now I can say I’m done.”