POWERING UP YOUR GOLF SWING

Bob Forman, MS Exercise Physiology
Certified Golf Fitness Instructor

One of the negative consequences of getting older is a loss of functionality due to the fact that our bodies become weaker, less flexible and fatigue quicker.  This, as you can imagine, detracts from our ability to move as efficiently as we once did thereby deteriorating our skill level and performance out on the golf course. 

The senior golfer knows what I’m talking about.  The junior player can’t comprehend what I’ve just said.  It is inevitable, though, and can overwhelm you before you know it’s happening.  Many of us are naïve about the fact that lifestyle and inactivity are much to blame.  Instead we point the finger at the fact that, I must be just getting older, as the primary suspect of our golfing demise and just succumb to the aging process. 

Well I’m here to tell you, age is no excuse.  Oh yeah, sure, there is that inevitable loss of muscle as we get older, but you can slow that process if you stay active and even reverse a lot of it if you get active. 

You can put off the loss of distance and errant hits and maintain, even restore functionality by focusing on the movement patterns and requirements needed to perform the desired task. 

For golf, that power requirement is a combination of range of motion and strength with a little bit of endurance thrown in as the movement pattern will have to be repeated over a 4 to 5 hour round.  We desire power as that is what produces clubhead speed, which ultimately gets you further down the fairway.

When you break it down, there are several areas of concern that need to be addressed, however, two stand out in most of the golfers I’ve worked with over the years. . . mobility in the thoracic spine area and hip speed.

The thoracic spine or T-spine as it’s affectionately called, is comprised of 12 vertebrae situated between the cervical and lumbar sections of the spine.  It is where rotation should occur, producing that coveted shoulder turn in the backswing so often talked about in the professional journals, allowing the golfer more time to accelerate in the downswing and through the impact area.   

Lack of range of motion, however, in the T-spine is fairly widespread among golfers.    For one reason or another, but mainly tied to an inactive lifestyle and/or lack of attention to mobility in the thoracic spine, the muscles affiliated with the mid-back become deficient in their range of motion. 

For those active golfers already engaged in a training program, this lack of range of motion is often times associated with the emphasis on strengthening the muscles in this area that promotes the lack of mobility.  A stronger muscle will become a tighter muscle if a relevant stretching program is not included.  Unfortunately, stretching is often ignored due to what I believe is a lack of emphasis on the significance of flexibility and its role of maintaining balance within the musculoskeletal system.  I also get the impression that many feel stretching isn’t as cool as pumping iron and/or working up a sweat on a treadmill so it is disregarded or eventually abandoned.  It is, however, just as important.

This common occurrence of tightness in the mid-back in golfers also contributes to an excessive torque in the lower back as golfers strive to achieve a bigger turn.  This transverse plane “recruitment” of the lumbar spine will eventually take a toll on the lower back and is a factor in the high prevalence of low back injury among golfers.

Two good static stretches that focus on T-spine range of motion are shoulder rolls and thoracic rotation.  A great dynamic exercise is the T-spine matrix. 

The second requirement I referred to for increasing power in the golf swing is hip speed.  Again, speed is a function of strength and range of motion and need to be developed in order to enhance power.  It has been my observation, however, that many golfers at all levels lack one or both of these prerequisites.    

There are numerous factors that can impact strength and range of motion that can be identified through the physical golf assessment as everyone is somewhat unique in their anatomical structure.  Influencing these factors, as summarized before as lifestyle, include the type of job you’re in, the amount of time you sit during the day, the exercise routine you’ve been doing, heredity (as some are more predisposed to being inflexible), age (to an extent), sports or activities that you participate in now or in the past, any previous injury, and your overall general condition.

Focusing on the anatomical deficiencies first is without a doubt a prerequisite for better outcomes.  As you correct the weaknesses, tightnesses and imbalances, you improve movement efficiency and therefore will achieve the strength and power gains quicker and with less potential for injury as you advance through your program.

Focusing on the muscles that will enhance the freedom of movement in the pelvic bone while strengthening those that will facilitate the rotary motion required will set the stage for progression into speed work.  These exercises or drills are more intense in nature and will step-up the recruitment of the muscle fiber type utilized in short, quick bursts of activity such as the 1.0 to 1.2 seconds it takes to swing a golf club. 

As a side bar, initiating the downswing with the hips will start the arms and hands downward without you consciously moving them.  It will create the nice lag in the club and allow you to maintain the wrist hinge further in the downswing, thereby reducing the potential for casting.  This move is yet another power facet in the golf swing.

To go into detail as to which hip-related muscles should be isolated would entail a rather lengthy discussion.  That discussion can be better shaped once you identify where your deficiencies are.  With this anatomical snapshot in hand, you’ll be able to customize a time-efficient exercise plan to isolate those specific areas that are in need of stretching and those that mandate strengthening.  Once improvements to these have been made, you’ll be able to progress into the productive power phase with much better results.

Together, a good shoulder turn and hip action will generate greater power in your swing and more yards down the fairway.  Guessing that you probably don’t or can’t make one or both of these vital moves is a good assumption, but don’t assume that you can’t achieve better outcomes.  Get together with a qualified golf fitness instructor, go through an assessment and together lay out a sensible exercise plan to power up your golf swing.      

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH

Static Hamstring Stretch

 One of the main factors for low back discomfort is tight hamstrings, which can also affect hip mobility in the golf swing.

 

 

Check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

GOLF FITNESS
ASSESSMENT & TRAINING


A quality, customized golf fitness program will. . .
  • Enhance swing efficiency
  • Increase distance
  • Improve playing performance and satisfaction
  • Identify and correct golf-specific injury triggers

    All for much less than what another brand new driver that's going to "fix my game" would cost
     
click here for details

  


The golf exercises are going great.  I am hitting the ball the best I have ever hit it.  My back pain has gone away also. 
 
David R. 

more testimonials

HOST A WORKSHOP

If your Club or organization would like to host an informative golf fitness workshop, contact Bob at bob@golfitcarolina.com or 336-509-4610.

Bob came to my club and did a hour long session on the basics of his teaching and philosophy of fitness and how it relates to the golf swing and its performance.  My members thoroughly enjoyed the hour and wanted more.  I was impressed with his content and explanation.  My members were floored with his Q&A and his personal adaptation to their issues.  I was impressed with his interaction with attendants of the seminar.  If you are looking for someone to integrate your fitness program with the golf program, Bob is the guy to do it!  We will be booking Bob to come back to our club next spring.
Shannon Howell, PGA Head Golf Professional
Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC


"Bob Forman was fabulous!  He is a great presenter who shared some extremely valuable information related to how anatomical deficiencies such as: poor posture, flexibility, and balance impact our golf swing.  He not only shared what they are and how they impact the swing, but also demonstrated exercises to help correct them."
Ellen Gregory
EWGA-Wilmington, NC chapter

“Westchester is one of the Country’s largest private clubs with a membership that has high expectations for service and performance.  Bob Forman’s seminar on golf specific fitness and flexibility was extremely well received and motivated many of my members to begin a program of evaluation, exercise and follow-ups.  I highly recommend Bob for his knowledge, energy , and ability to connect with amateurs concerning golf fitness.” 
John Kennedy, Director of Golf
Westchester CC, 
Harrison, NY

Bob has a fantastic ability to understand and combine his expertise of the physical complexities of the human body with the PGA Professional’s trained eye with respect to the complexities of the golf swing.  Bob offers a refreshing angle that most amateur and professional golfers can understand and embrace.  Many times, a golfer will have physical limitations that prevents him or her from moving the way the PGA Professional is trying to instruct.  Bob can take the golfer’s weakest physical traits and focus a training program to better overcome those obstacles and allow the golfers to ultimately improve their swing. 
Dennis Nicholl, PGA Head Golf Professional
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Functional Golf Fitness Training is a comprehensive player improvement resource for golfers of all ages and levels, teaching professionals and coaches.  
A great manual for golf teams as well.  

Dedicated chapters on:
- how to identify and correct the common physical deficiencies most golfers have that are impacting their swing and injury potential
- over 40 golf-specific exercises and drills

- preventing/alleviating the #1 injury in golf, low back injury
- how to fix the more common swing faults

Amazon reviews:

"Very clear explanations of causes and fixes for main physical deficiencies affecting golfers. Easy to follow instructions. While other books may give a whole laundry list of exercises that end up not being used, Forman has selected a few for each issue and puts together a program that doesn't take long to do"

"This book not only tells you what to do but also why you need to do and what results you can expect.
I have every book in print about golf fitness and this book is by far the best."


Available in print at TheBookPatch

TheBookPatch.com Buy Now style 1 button
or as an ebook on Amazon

Go to
http://www.amazon.com/Functional-Golf-Fitness-Training-ebook/dp/B00FH88Q0Q

SWING FAULT PHYSIOLOGY

Swing mechanics are often influenced by physical deficiencies in the golfer's body.  Below are some of the more common swing faults, their physical causes and how to correct.

GOLF POSTURE

S-POSTURE AND LOW BACK PAIN

EARLY EXTENSION

SWAY & SLIDE

REVERSE SPINE

While correcting the deficiencies, you also need to rewire the brain-body connection in order to break out of the inefficient swing pattern.  

REWIRE THE BAD SWING HABIT

RADIO / PODCASTS

 

 

November 11, 2017
The top 10 fitness must haves for better golf.  Click on the pic and then "podcast."  
My segment starts at 1:10:30.

 
June 22, 2017
(go to 1:10:00 into the show)
golf posture, muscle imbalance, improving distance, stretching, hydration, Tiger and specialization, Rory and weight lifting



March 14, 2015
(go to 1:08:00 into the show)
fitness vs. golf fitness, strength training and slowing down the aging process, C and S-postures 


scroll down to 9/9/2013
(go to 23:15 into the show)
back injury