Golf-specific Fitness – A New Age

This golf season let’s all commit to getting better. Your recipe for golf performance enhancement should include 5 performance factors: properly fit equipment, mental skills, professional instruction, physical fitness, and natural talent. The first four are things you can change; the last is the one you can’t buy in the pro shop.

Professional golfers are now recognized as true athletes, something that wasn’t considered much before the arrival of Tiger Woods. I was able to experience firsthand the new age of golf fitness at the 2007 US Open at Oakmont where I walked a practice round with former CSU golfer Martin Laird, and Masters champion Zach Johnson. After the 5 ½ hour practice round you’d expect most to retire for the day, but there we were heading to the hotel gym for a workout. I was impressed to see more than 15 professionals entered in the tournament working out AFTER the long day on the course.

Physical fitness factors that relate to improved golf performance include: posture, flexibility, balance, core strength, and movement efficiency. Ideally a workout program addressing these factors would not only be golf-specific but also customized to the individual. Although the golf swing is not a symmetrical motion another key to performance and injury prevention is having equal range of motion and flexibility in the large rotational joints including the hips and shoulders.

Golfers who know the language of the sport will recognize how these physical attributes relate to performance by the following correlations: posture = alignment, flexibility = swing width, balance = stability, core strength = power, movement efficiency = swing consistency.

Anyone interested in hitting it further? Spending some recent time with the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) there was an interesting but simple quote made: “To increase force through the golf ball you have to be able to increase force through the body”. Somehow I don’t think sitting at a desk all day and then working the t.v. remote in the evening with a thumb is going to accomplish that.

“Use it or lose it”. Another nice quote that hits home when it relates to our golfing bodies, general fitness, and overall quality of life. Does that mean we need to spend an hour a day attacking those five golf-specific physical factors to see improvement? Absolutely not, and many golfers can make huge strides in their fitness for golf with 15-30 minute workouts if they are targeted properly.

Investing in your body, without question, will allow you to get more out of your lessons and practice sessions. Imagine being physically able to get to ideal swing positions that your pro is instructing with less stress on your body, more consistency, and of course using it all to take money off your playing partners. And, an additional benefit is creating a body that is more resistant to injuries.

Remember, your body is your most important piece of golf equipment!

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