ARPwave News

Oberholser knows pain and gains:
by Steve Campbell — Staff Writer, Houston Chronicle:

Golfer lauds ‘secret’ program for injury recovery.

Arron Oberholser insists he is onto a secret.

A secret that will help him climb up the PGA Tour food chain. A body-building, score-shrinking, training secret. A secret that will make him stronger and the flight of the ball and his career last longer.

And is legal in 50 states.

He's perfectly willing to share the secret freely, secure in the belief he's not giving up any advantage on his competition. Not this week at the Shell Houston Open, which begins Thursday at the Redstone Golf Club Tournament Course. Not in the foreseeable future.

"It's something that not everybody on the tour," Oberholser said, "is going to do."

Even if it does everything but eradicate male-pattern baldness?

"It's not a system that a lot of people would enjoy using," Oberholser said. "They expect a lot of work out of you. I expect to get yelled at when I go in there, and I do."

Yeah, but plenty of pros work hard. Vijay Singh bangs balls for hours on Christmas Day. Tiger Woods has gone from a skinny prodigy to having the body of an NFL defensive back. And players hear fans yelling everywhere they go: "You da man!"

"It's very painful," Oberholser said.

Uh, painful?

"Very painful," Oberholser said. "It's a lot of Eastern-bloc type stuff - Russian - , Czech-type stuff."

Oberholser is a recent convert to Accelerated Recovery Performance, a Minnesota-based program designed by exercise physiologist Denis Thompson and physical trainer Jay Schroeder. The program combines an Eastern-influ- enced workout routine devised by Schroeder with an Accelerated Performance Recovery machine invented by Thompson.

The ARP machine is a box-like unit with dials, a timer and wires attached to pads placed on the body. Low-voltage electrical currents shoot into the body during workouts on the principle that the stimuli will reduce injuries and refresh the body. "It's extremely intense," Oberholser said. "You hear people crying in the gym."

Oberholser's fiancée, LPGA player Angie Rizzo, has been trying to lure him into the program for ages. Among the practitioners are NFL players Dwight Freeney, Adam Archuleta and Todd Heap and major leaguers Geoff Jenkins and Mark Ellis. Rizzo has been at it for three years - an assortment of wall holds, Russian lunges, leaps and squats, combined with low-voltage currents into the muscles.

Looking for relief
An auto accident in 2002, followed by another 13 months later, left Rizzo with severe whiplash, an injured wrist and an aching shoulder. She went to an array of chiropractors and therapists, with no relief.

"I tried everything," Rizzo said. "All the other stuff is a Band-Aid."

Oberholser, 32, needed only to watch Rizzo work out just once to decide, "No way." He wondered how Rizzo, 28, could even swing a golf club after all that sweating and straining. Besides, Oberholser had managed to work his way up to No. 37 in the world at the end of the 2006 tour season without putting himself through all that.

Then his back went out at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship forcing him to miss defending his 2006 title at Pebble Beach, where he won by a tournament-record tying five strokes, in February. With doctors recommending cortisone, Rizzo begged Oberholser to try her program. Having suffered muscle injuries in the past four years, Oberholser reluctantly relented.

"You don't go to these guys when you are feeling good," Oberholser said. "You go to these guys because this is the last stop. This is the last resort; you've tried all of the other methods. I've done all kinds of other stuff, but as my lovely fiancée puts it: I never really exercised like an athlete."

Oberholser has played only five events this season. His spirits are considerably higher than his No. 92 standing on the money list. He said he needed only a week of strenuous ARP workouts - he'd start at 7 a.m. and finish at 1 p.m. - at a Mesa, Ariz., center to notice a difference. When he's out on the tour, he backs off to a maintenance regimen of 25-30 minutes a day.

"It's unbelievable what they can do," Rizzo said "A lot of people don't want to go through that to get healthy. You take an average person that has a sprained ankle, they'd rather put it in a cast and wait eight weeks to get better. They'll take a sprained ankle, and in two weeks, you're walking (with the ARP training). But it's very painful for those two weeks to get the recovery."

Posture stressed
Another principle of the ARP program is the importance of posture, that the proper use of legs will take stress and strain away from the back. By Oberholser's reckoning, stronger legs are the foundation that will allow him to improve on his No. 136 ranking in average driving distance (285.0 yards) last year. "Power and speed in the golf swing are created from the ground up, from your feet up," Oberholser said. "I never really had that, to be very honest. That's why people look at me and go, `How come he doesn't hit it any farther? I look like I should hit it farther, but I don't. My leg strength isn't there. It will be there."

Arron Oberholser, after all, has a secret. As painful as the secret may be to bear, he is counting on it to change the rest of his golf life for the better.