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‘It gave me the confidence that what I was doing was good’: How a PGA Tour star boosted a Yorkshire pro’s career

Michael Dennington was toiling away promoting his golf fitness programmes on social media, until Scott Stallings reached out. He tells Steve Carroll all about it
 

When people asked me what I wanted to be growing up, I’d usually say ‘astronaut’. Today, kids are as likely to say ‘influencer’. But the road to social media stardom, and the cash rolling in on YouTube and Instagram, is rarely paved with gold.

You need a break and Michael Dennington’s came from an unlikely source.

“I started putting things online with limited response,” he explains. “You see people doing certain things and you wonder how – or if – you want to get into that side.”

Dennington believed he had something to offer players. He’d been a talented youngster but had become disillusioned with the traditional club pro path, instead throwing himself into golf fitness.

He bought and transformed a run-down York driving range and developed his own gym, coaching CrossFit.

He began sharing GOLFWOD online and it was one of these posts that Scott Stallings spied on Instagram.

The American had won three times on the PGA Tour but shed 50lbs and 16 per cent of his body fat after deciding to change the way he lived his life.

“He’d gone through his own health transformation, from genuinely unhealthy with health concerns to probably being the fittest guy on tour,” Dennington explains. “Seeing what I was trying to put across was a direct link to what he was doing.”

Stallings invited Dennington to join him on the PGA Tour at the start of this year, and the two have collaborated on livestreams and fitness programmes.

It’s given Dennington the profile boost he needed and he’s now amassed more than 18,500 followers on Instagram.

“Having Scott reach out just gave me the confidence and the backing that what I was doing was good, and was going to be helpful to other people,” he says.

“It definitely did keep me in the game. There were certainly times when, with running my own businesses, I was happy to stop with online and the amount of time that it takes and the pressures that people talk of, in terms of being in front of the camera.

“It’s not something that comes naturally. It’s worked over time. There were days when I was pretty close to shutting it down but having people like that reach out and back me up makes all the difference to where we are now.”

He adds: “I got out there early in the year and saw what goes into a week. How quickly it goes by for a PGA Tour player, putting in the work, understanding recovery, sleep, trying to get performance together.

“Scott is a great example and I couldn’t have asked for someone better to be working with moving forwards. There is a very clear difference between him now than there was two, three or four years ago.

“That’s huge for him and his performance but more so for people around the world who want to change their health. It’s a great advertisement for that.

“From labouring round the course, not being your best, not feeling your best and not understanding exactly where you are at to making just small changes each day, getting better and better and getting your health and fitness to where it can be.”

Stallings has his own team week-to-week on Tour, but his collaborations with Dennington have helped lead him to develop a new app.

We’ll look back on 2020 as the year of Zoom and, as coronavirus has kept us off the course for months, keen golfers have had to find a new way to get their fix.

The GOLFWOD app has given users access to tools, guidance and support to look after their health and fitness needs, while helping them improve their game.

“It’s all based around functional fitness,” says Denningotn. “I think that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve managed to maintain – is that almost slightly disruptive style.

“Golf fitness doesn’t have to be stretching, rotating, as if you were trying to play golf. Basic fitness itself is important.

“You are going to have all elements – stretching specific movement patterns are going to be good – but for Scott and myself it’s all about developing yourself to be the best athlete, or the best fitness level possible, and transferring that into your swing.

“With your technical side, with your understanding and movement and basically just being the fittest happiest version you can be of yourself.

“It’s a real cross over from day-to-day work, understanding how each of us work together and bringing that to as many golfers as possible.”

golf fitness

With thousands now using the app and share agreement deals with Stallings and multiple Ladies European Tour winner Carly Booth in motion, Dennington’s getting his golf fitness message out to the masses.

“It’s a case of making sure every golfer has that same opportunity and understanding what difference you can make if you are willing to take the step, make that change and put in the work.”

NCG readers can download one of GOLFWOD’s home work out programmes by visiting Michael Dennington’s website.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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