Casual golf followers may think the sport consists of a graceful swing and little else.
However, Spencer Tatum knows there’s much more going on behind the scenes of that seemingly straightforward move. His expertise in a niche that combines athletics and a deep comprehension of the human body is so honed and proven that it’s earned him a spot among Golf Digest’s top 50 Golf Fitness Trainers in the United States.
“It was a great honor. Anytime you’re getting recognized for your work by your peers, it’s nice to know that people respect what you’re doing,” Tatum says of the nod.
Tatum’s client list is a Who’s Who of PGA and LPGA golf elite: Kevin Chappell, Brandon Harkins, Scott Langley, Tim Clarke, and the retired Grace Park. But seven-year client Jon Rahm is perhaps the best, most recent example of what happens when Tatum’s system is executed.
Rahm came to Tatum with the goal of becoming the best professional golfer in the world. Rahm officially achieved that for the first time after winning the Memorial Tournament in July 2020.
Golf Digest selected Tatum from hundreds of applicants to be part of an elite roster that was closely evaluated by a panel comprised of 10 of the most respected experts in golf fitness.
“We wanted this list to be about the trainers in the trenches, the ones who can and sometimes do work with tour pros, and can make a 65-year-old with spinal stenosis play and feel better,” says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear.
This accolade is one of many Tatum has received for his work that’s the culmination of connecting the dots between health, fitness, and performance. He delivers a systemic process based on principles that never stops processing the growth of his clients.
Tatum is the founder of Tatum Human Performance (THP), which strives to provide an innovative and holistic program to health, fitness, and sports performance, tailored to each client’s unique combination of goals, experiences, and physicality (IgniteTHP.com).
The idea is to help clients ignite their passion by providing the expertise and impact they seek with exercise science principles. Tatum’s experience and education in exercise physiology propelled his journey into the golf realm.
“I saw a huge need in the golf world to train like an athlete. A lot of trainers train golfers to swing the golf club but we need to train the athlete first,” Tatum says.
It didn’t take long for Tatum’s strategy to draw attention and results from other professional leagues, as he’s also worked with NFL, MLB, pro tennis, hockey, and pro beach volleyball players.
“It’s been a unique ride. It’s been fun to learn from these athletes, the challenges they’ve faced, and how they’ve overcome them,” he says.
However, his guidance reaches beyond the A-list crowd with clients who lead everyday lives and have goals they’d like to achieve or challenges they want to overcome.
“Most of our clientele is the normal person who wants to be better; the high school athlete who wants to play college ball and get a scholarship, the executive who plays golf who is in constant pain or wants to take their game to the next level because it’s their passion,” Tatum says. “No matter who they are, the process never changes. Fitness is not just for super fit people. This performance fitness model is there to help them achieve their goals.”
Tatum can relate to clients’ desires and their drive to follow their dreams to potential, partly because he knows what it’s like to almost lose them.
A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, he had been under the tutelage of top coaches and among the level of elite athletics since he was 9. He is dyslexic and, while academic tasks didn’t come easy, athletics provided the opportunity to excel.
He was a football standout, and in high school was a highly recruited player. Many of his injuries–to his ACL and hamstring, for example–came during non-contact activity and threatened to derail his path.
“Sports was an outlet to express myself. When this started to be taken away from me…” he says, before pausing. “People couldn’t explain why this was happening. It caused me to start thinking.”
Tatum made a remarkable recovery from a knee injury, but his offers from colleges disappeared. Eventually, he was able to make it onto the Ohio University football team. Still, Tatum wanted to understand the body better so he could provide answers and solutions that others could not when he was suffering.
“Understanding how [the body] adapts and changes to stress gives us a unique model for not just golf performance, but human performance,” he says.
This culminated into the THP model that weaves heath, movement, endurance, and recovery to deliver a unified approach to health, wellness, and fitness for literally every body.
“If we can get them to express their God-given talents the best they can, the chance of achieving their goal has become a lot better,” he says. “It’s always our client’s journey… we’re just there to help guide them in the process.”
Tatum’s Top 3 Golf Fitness Moves
Kettlebell Turkish Get Up
This full-body movement helps understand mobility and stability that transfers into the golf swing.
Kettlebell Hardstyle Swing
This teaches how to create power effectively and efficiently using the ground. It also instructs how to transition power without taxing the joints, like jumping would.
Half Kneeling Band Chop
This gives golfers the ability to connect with backswing to the downswing–one of the most important aspects of the golf swing–very simply and efficiently.