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St. FX teacher shines after helping win golf’s US Open

Sasho MacKenzie won the Antigonish Golf Club men’s championship two years in a row, but he became much more famous for his specialist golf practice equipment which is now used by some of the best golfers on the PGA Tour.

On Sunday in Brookline, Mass., Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Open. After the victory, he praised MacKenzie, his biomechanics coach.

“I spent a lot of time working with my trainer Mike Walker and my biomechanic Sasho MacKenzie,” Fitzpatrick said after winning the title.

Fitzpatrick, a 27-year-old Briton, has never been known as a heavy hitter on the PGA Tour until this season.

He credits a training device called the Stack System with adding length to his workouts. The device was co-designed by MacKenzie, a professor in the Department of Human Kinetics at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Training Guru

“Essentially, it’s a weighted club that has different weight levels to allow you to do overload and overspeed training,” MacKenzie said. “You can pair it with an app that lets you customize your needs as a golfer.”

MacKenzie has become something of a golf training guru.

He has done engineering consulting for golf company Ping and he is a biomechanical consultant and software developer for another golf company, Footjoy. He has published over 20 golf-related research articles in various journals.

In addition to golf, MacKenzie has worked with several Major League Baseball teams as a biomechanics consultant, including the World Series-winning 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sasho MacKenzie has advised certain professional golfers and golf product companies. (Submitted by Ben Salisbury)

Improving his clubhead speed to give him longer tee shots was the difference for Fitzpatrick on Sunday. There was one hole in particular that stood out.

“It was cold and the wind was blowing in his face, but there was a passable par four and he was the only player to hit it on the green with his drive,” MacKenzie said. “His clubhead speed was over 120 miles per hour.”

MacKenzie, originally from Montague, PEI, has just completed her 16th year teaching biomechanics at St. FX.

“It takes physics and engineering and applies it to the human body,” MacKenzie said. “We’re specifically trying to figure out what are the best ways to perform a skill in sport to move something quickly, to be more accurate, and to prevent injury.”

When asked if he used the Stack System to enjoy his own game on his hometown course, MacKenzie responded with a very quick response.

“Absolutely, I use it religiously,” MacKenzie said. “Everyone I compete against for the Club Championship is at least 10 or 15 years younger than me.”

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