Sea of change
Mackenzie enjoying success after swing changes, other adjustments
BY NEAL REID
Change is an inevitable reality for virtually every LPGA Tour player, and Paige Mackenzie has been no different.
The fifth-year pro has undergone a number of swing changes, adjustments to her short game and even a shift in her mental approach to the game. Those changes were implemented after Mackenzie made just 17 of 38 cuts in her first two seasons and she found herself struggling to adjust to life on Tour.
“When I turned pro and came out on Tour, I expected it to be a little easier of a transition than it was,” Mackenzie said. “I think it’s just taken me a couple years to feel comfortable and figure out what I need to do with my game and my life to make it work. This is really the first year I’ve felt 100 percent comfortable being out there.”
Mackenzie enjoyed a $100,000 season in 2009, banking $140,671, and has once again eclipsed the six-figure mark this season. She gives much of the credit to the swing changes she’s implemented in recent years.
“I’ve put in two years of some really intense swing changes and putting changes, and it’s finally starting to pay off,” she said. “I changed teachers and have been working with John Stahlschmidt at TPC Scottsdale. We changed my club-head rotation through impact, and now I keep my club head pretty square all the way through my golf swing. So, my bad shots are considerably less bad.”
She also made some considerable short-game changes that were not always easy to achieve.
“I’ve been working with Stan Utley, and he has a very distinct philosophy in his putting and short-game work,” Mackenzie said. “We started working together about three years ago. We had to really break everything down and start over, because I was really a mess when we started working together. It’s been a long process, but I finally feel like I’m doing what I need to be doing. I’m getting better and making more putts, which is kind of a big deal if you’re trying to win and make money.”
Mackenzie, who finished tied for ninth at the Avnet LPGA Classic earlier this year, is enjoying seeing the changes finally produce results on the course.
“I feel like I’ve hit a good plateau this year,” she said. “In golf, you put in a lot of work, but might not see results for a while. I felt like, for a lot of years, I was putting in a lot of work, but didn’t necessarily see the results in my scoring average. I felt like I was getting better, so I continued to work on it, but it’s finally now produced enough results where I can say I feel like I’m at a new level in my golf game.”
As a result, Mackenzie has earned a spot in the top 50 on the LPGA money list, which allows her access to more tournaments and more opportunities to succeed.
“That’s been really big, because then you get into all the limited-field, no-cut events,” Mackenzie said. “You get to play more events, get into all the guaranteed-money events and more of the large-purse events. For me, my biggest goal at the beginning of the season was getting into the Asian swing at the end of the year, qualifying for Evian and qualifying for Kraft. So, I’ve made these little goals throughout the year and have played my way into a lot of opportunities, which is really cool.
“I started the season with eight events on my schedule, and it’s nice to know I’ll finish the year having played in 18 or 19. That changes your entire year when you double the number of events you were supposed to be playing in.”
Mackenzie also gives credit to structural integration therapy she’s received through the years that has relieved a chronic neck problem that affected her performance on the golf course. Structural integration keeps a person’s body aligned by not allowing the body to make compensations due to any misalignments and also keeps fascia – the body’s connective tissue – from becoming inflamed.
“It changes my life,” said Mackenzie, who had a back injury in college that has contributed to her neck condition. “I would not be playing golf today if it wasn’t for the woman I met 10 years ago that got me back playing. It’s pretty dramatic stuff, and I feel like a whole other person with the things they’re able to do.”
With her body and golf swing in alignment, Mackenzie is ready for big things in the future.
“I’m super pumped for the last part of the season,” she said. “I’ve had a little bit of a struggle the last six weeks and have had some health issues with my neck, but I feel like I’m back to where I need to be health-wise. I’ve been able to practice as much as I’ve wanted to, and I think my game is back to where it was at the beginning of the season.”