A quick Google search of the best golf drivers reveals the standard market price is around $500; depending on how much you earn or how addicted to golf you are, getting a new driver might be money well spent.
But there is another way to assist with your golf progress and the return on investment is huge as the benefits will help assist not only your golf, but also your general well-being and day-to-day living.
Your physical capacity has the most scope for improvement in your game. Limitations in your body is a key reason why your game gets to a certain level and plateaus. Or you struggle to make substantial improvements in your performance, regardless of how many lessons and the type of equipment you use.
Many amateur players cut corners when it comes to fitness when ironically it is usually one of the prime ways to get significant improvements in their performance.
Elite golfers have excellent flexibility and mobility, as well as good strength and stability.
If you are limited in your physical capacity, your ability to execute an efficient golf swing is compromised leading to compensatory movement.
This will then result in a limitation to your improvement or performance or it can also lead to an increased risk of injury.
Trunk Rotation Is King
Trunk rotation is a crucial factor in the production and transference of power involved in a golf swing. Limitations in this movement can significantly decrease your performance and also increase the risk of sustaining injuries (which commonly occur above or below the trunk e.g. lower back strain or shoulder issues).
Anatomically, the thoracic spine contributes approximately 80% of the available rotation within the trunk. To achieve maximum rotation requires good stability in other areas of the body such as the scapula (shoulder) and core (lumbar spine/pelvis/hip).
If the brain recognizes that your body has inadequate stability in the scapula or core regions, it will compensate by using stability from other areas – e.g. in the golf swing – trunk rotation. This is one of the key reasons why some golfers have a poor rotational range of motion in the golf swing – they lack adequate core and scapular stability.
Similarly, poor core muscle activation patterns during the golf swing can also increase the risk of injury and hinder your performance. Your brain has an inbuilt safety mechanism which ensures that you can only accelerate what you can decelerate. In golfing terms, your maximum golf head speed is limited by your ability to decelerate that speed. E.g. your brain will limit trunk rotation range and velocity to reduce the risk of injury with the swing follow through.
Lower back injuries are the most commonly reported injury with golf and this is thought to be due to the fact that amateur golfers place more stress on the lumbar spine during golf than professionals. Research has shown that golfers with strong oblique muscles (which contribute to core stability) have a reduced incidence of lower back pain.
Shoulder Your Way To A Better Swing
Several research studies have identified the shoulder as the second most commonly injured area in amateur golfers. The rotator cuff and scapula stabilizers are essential for shoulder stability during the golf swing. Degeneration of the rotator cuff is a common consequence of the aging process and is thought to be responsible for the high incidence of shoulder problems in older golfers.
Correct positioning of the scapula can increase trunk rotation by up to 25%. This is why a full body assessment is warranted to assist with maximizing your body improvement for golf.
Never Too Young To Start
Despite popular belief, getting fit for golf is necessary for all ages. Low back pain in young skilled golfers (mean age 23 years old) has been documented. Elite golfers tend to experience golf injuries related to overuse, whilst amateur golfers generally experience injuries related to poor swing technique and body mechanics.
Interventions to improve your golf are multifactorial but should include a thorough assessment, treatment of deficiencies in the kinetic chain (i.e. specific exercises for certain areas of the body) and professional instruction to assess/modify/improve swing technique.
Glutes: The Key To Consistently Great Golf
Whether you play golf once a week or once a month all golfers strive to play consistently great golf. Think about the last time you played a hole or a round of golf with an extraordinary result; imagine being able to do this consistently. If you had to choose one area of the body that would significantly increase the likelihood of this occurring, it would be the glutes – which function to provide stability, mobility, and power in the golf swing.
The glutes or gluteals which consist of the gluteus maximus, medius & minimus are the largest muscle group in the human body. Strong glutes will help stabilize the pelvis as you rotate into a backswing and follow through. During the backswing (for right-handed golfers), the right gluteus medius and gluteus maximus provide stability and power. As you begin the downswing, the left gluteus maximus contracts, as does the left gluteus medius and minimus, allowing your upper body to rotate over your “stabilized” lower body.
If you have tight or weak glutes, you will be unable to produce smooth rotation & transfer of power during your swing. A poor rotation will result in a loss of power and distance in your game.
As well as rotating the hips and stabilizing the pelvis, the glutes also play a major role in transferring energy generated through the lower body to the upper body, and then into the ball. Technically, the golf swing is a simply a powerful release of kinetic energy generated in the body and transferred to a golf ball.
From a practical and experience point of view, a high majority of amateur golfers are unable to successfully activate their upper and lower half leading to a leakage in the kinetic sequence. This results in them coming over the top and slicing the ball – which probably 90% of golfers do. If you want to hit the ball further you need to be able to have great functioning of the upper and lower half of your body, as well as good core stability/strength.
Getting a new golf club may help you “hit further”, but the bottom line is hitting the ball further with a slice only puts you further out of bounds or in the water hazard. The club does not help you hit it further in the fairway. Getting the structure of your golf swing (your body) fixed is the only thing that can help that.
Stop Guessing Your Way To Better Golf
You wouldn’t expect your Golf Pro to give you tips on your swing based off a couple of practice swings in the nets. A specific and thorough swing assessment would obviously be performed to assist with relevant and meaningful information.
Your fitness assessment is no different. Why waste time performing exercises and stretches based on a generic “Get Fit For Golf” program. To get the easiest and quickest results, you need to be specific and get tests performed that give you (& your Fitness Professional) the best information.
I have treated golfers of similar age, experience & ability but they required completely different programs based on their specific assessments.
One Percent Change is a world-leading body assessment that includes specific tests that will provide detailed information on all of the key body areas that are important in golf.
For example, strength testing of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder is performed and identifies any weakness and imbalance that may be present.
Shoulder Flexion Strength Assessment
A range of motion tests, such as Thoracic Spine Rotation is another golf specific test performed using the One Percent Change assessment.
Thoracic Spine Rotation Assessment
Core and Scapula stability testing complements that range of motion and strength tests to ensure that you and your Health & Fitness Professional are informed about any underlying issues you didn’t know about. This facilitates the creation of a superior exercise program that maximizes the potential to dramatically improve your golf and just as importantly prevent any future problems.
Given the importance of the gluteals in golf, it is no surprise that the One Percent Change has numerous specific tests of the gluteals which assess stability, flexibility, and strength.
Single Leg Squat Test for Pelvic Stability
Gluteus Maximus Strength Test (Hip Extension)
One Percent Change treats you like a professional golfer to ensure you get the best possible information to take your game to the next level. So to get more out of your golf and achieve consistently great golf, book in now for an assessment with an Accredited Assessor.
Note: As discussed above, getting a specific assessment is the best way to take your golf to another level. This exercise program is a general program based on the best exercises for most individuals.