Urban Golf Performance: Diehard for the Game
Urban Golf Performance (UGP) was created out of necessity. A product of golf instruction gone bad, UGP founder Mackenzie Todd started his company with the main intent of finding a better way to improve and connect with the game of golf.
At age 15, Todd was a top junior player in the country and took those talents from his sleepy hometown in Texas to the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida to work with world-renowned David Leadbetter. Learning alongside the likes of Paula Creamer, Todd had visions of a sharp trajectory to the top of the golfing world. Unfortunately, the training just didn’t click.
“They completely rebuilt my swing with all this motor programming, prep and rehearsal,” Todd said. ”It took away all my confidence and that’s when I realized there has to be a better way. That was where the idea came about for UGP.”
After walking onto the golf teams during stints at the University of Colorado and University of Texas at El Paso — before eventually dropping out of both — Todd decided to take another route.
“While golf always pulled me back because of my talent,” he said, “I was always in conflict with the game. After my experience as a youth, I was beyond repair.”
He got accepted into medical school, but decided not to pursue that either, and found himself in a precarious life situation.
“Before you know it, I have a pregnant fiancée,” he said. “I’m busy running a driving range in Austin, Texas, like Roy McAvoy in “Tin Cup”, but I’m also developing all these business plans during the down time. Finally, it clicked.”
After moving his family to Southern California with the idea of competing on mini-tours, Todd was afforded the opportunity to teach out of a 350-square-foot hitting bay in the corner of a small mom-and-pop fitness center near Rancho Park GC.
“I decided the day I opened that hitting bay,” said a reflective Todd, “that I’d grind this one out until I made it.”
Fast-forward a couple years to the present day and Todd has turned a dilapidated warehouse in the center of Santa Monica into his vision since he was a teen.
“We’re just moving day by day,” he said. “Within the last six months we’ve expanded to 10,000 square feet, 25 employees and we’re finally rolling.”
Throughout those several years of competitive junior, collegiate and professional golf on mini-tours, Todd worked with countless golf instructors, fitness trainers, physical therapists, surgeons and mental coaches. Through all these experiences, he took away three general themes and brought them to UGP:
1. Golfers learn best in a team environment, where a community is pushing the player to new heights
2. Golf is more than just a golf swing; it’s a game that’s played with your mind; the stronger the mind, the better the player
3. Golf is a sport and in order to play your best over time, you must optimize your body athletically
“We’ve been playing the game well for a long time. All this camera work and thinking it’s the answer … I’m not sold,” said Todd. “That’s why at UGP we’ve enacted a multi-discipline holistic approach with an emphasis on developing mentally and physically strong athletes.”
Incoming clients can expect a comprehensive assessment of where their game is, and together with UGP, theydevelop a plan to improve. UGP, for its part, treats the game of golf as more than just a “stick and ball” sport — it’s more like a musical instrument, and their job is to fine tune it. In essence, UGP aims to understand a client’s root pains — whether technical, mental or physical.
“Golf fitness here at UGP is all about challenging your body movement in ways that will transform and improve your game,” said Leo Rooney, director of performance. “But it’s also about connecting with people around you that can help you understand that this game is bigger than quick fixes and overnight success.”
Whether it’s eliminating back pain, improving mobility or adding 20 yards to your drives, UGP looks at all these as smaller pieces in a bigger puzzle.
Todd always tells his staff that UGP should be run like a high-level collegiate golf program. They have all the resources to recruit, admit and then educate clients in order to reach their goals.
“We’re a golf performance club,” stressed Todd. “We architect an experience and we see return clients because we’ve built a niche community of golfers. Even at a country club, you may be around people who don’t care much for golf. Here at UGP, we’re all diehards.”