How Golf Fitness is Changing the Game

Today’s modern era of golf is changing right on front of our owns eyes. Drives off the tee longer than ever before.  The game today is becoming more a game of distance.  Golf fitness programs and their impact are changing the game today.

This shift in the game has come from advancements made in the physical transformation of the golfer.  Golf fitness programs have made their mark on the game, and the player’s who have found this out, and invested in it, are seeing distances longer than ever and record low scores.

What is Golf Fitness?

Before you can lay out the ideal golf fitness routine, you must first figure out exactly what is golf fitness.  Fitness can be defined as the condition of being physically fit and healthy.  

Do golfers need to be healthy?  Yes.  Do golfers need to be physically fit?  Of course.  However, this definition does not address any specific objectives whatsoever.  So, from now on, let’s consider “Golf Fitness” to be “Golf Performance” rather.  

Our new definition of golf performance will be efforts made by a golfer to attain golf specific physical qualities over time.  These physical qualities being mobility, strength and power.  

How Does Golf Performance Improve Your Golf Game?

As previously mentioned, the balls off the tee are traveling further than they ever have, but how?  The ultimate measurement of how to assess distance improvements come from club head speed.  The faster the club head speed, the further the ball will travel.

The physical qualities previously mentioned are the key areas which a golf performance routine should focus on to generate faster club head speed.  The more you can nail down these qualities and train them specifically for golf, the more you will physically transform and be able to drive the ball further than ever.

Golf Specific Mobility 

Mobility is defined as the ability for a joint  to move or be moved freely.  So, due to the rotational nature of golf, mobility comes down to being able to move freely among four rotary centers.  That being your hips, spine, shoulders and neck.  

Any golf performance training program must address these areas in order to maximize golf specific mobility qualities.  Any area of mobility that may be limited or lack free movement will cause compensation in swing patterns and lead to potential injury down the road.  

At Par4Success we have standardized our movement screening into our simple home assessment.  Click the link below to test your mobility among the rotary centers to see if you have limitations in your swing.

Click here for the golf specific mobility assessment 

Strength Training 

Once you know that you have free range of movement around the major rotary centers, you then need to build strength in those movements.  Free movement throughout a joint can only last so long.  Strengthening the movements is what will keep you most injury resilient and maintain adequate mobility.

In terms of strengthening for golf performance, again, you want to be training movements, not necessarily muscle groups.  Identify key movements in the golf swing, and training them with free weight exercises will provide you the biggest return on your investment in the weight room.

A little more specifically, your golf specific strength work should center around exercises that all consist of three things.

  1. Compound movements

The golf swing is complex in that there are a lot of moving parts happening during a swing.  So, your strength work should consist of exercises that involve multi-joints and large muscle groups.

  1. Free-weights 

In the swing, never are you in a closed system (laying on your back, or supported by any piece of equipment).  The golf swing involves high torques with a minimal amount of balance or support.  Therefore, your training should be promoting strength in stabilization and balance with free-weight.

  1. Ground forces

The only way to create a faster club head speed is to create more ground reaction force,  Newton’s Second Law: For every action, there must be an equal reaction.  So, your training must involve movements that are promoting force production through the ground.

Core Strengthening 

Your core connects your hips to your torso and it acts as a link in power transfer from the lower body to the upper body.  As previously mentioned, in order to swing faster you must push through the ground harder.  However, without an adequate amount of strength and stability in your core, that power transfer is lost and therefore useless.

Training your core comes back to training specific movements.  There are four specific movements in which your core is in control.  Those being flexion, lateral tilt and rotation.  You want your core to be strong enough to control each of these movements and contain a neutral spine.

Without a core in control of a neutral spine position, a limitation in strength can develop.  Limited strength in your core in any one of these movements can cause a compensation in your swing technique and lead to a potential low back injury down the road.  

Specific exercises to develop a neutral core can be trained with the following movements.

Anti-Extension –  This movement is trained by simply trying to pull the front side of your hips to the bottom of your rib cage.  A great exercise here are dead bugs.

Anti-Lateral Flexion – Your core helps maintain symmetry among your body from left to right.  Without appropriate strength here, a common right handed golfer would walk around leaning to their left.  Exercises among chop variations prevent asymmetries in lateral tilt.

Anti-Rotation – To be able to control rotational movements.  You must be able to resist them first.  Pallof Press is the “go-to” exercise here because of its many variations.

Power Development

The equation for power is force multiplied by velocity.  The strength progression in your golf performance program helps you create force.  Next, you need to be able to create force and apply it as fast as possible.  

Power production is developed through your central nervous system (CNS).  Your CNS fires signals to the neuromuscular system in order to create a muscle contraction.  The slower the CNS fires the weaker the contraction. 

Therefore, power development is essentially training the CNS to fire faster, or as fast as possible.  How do you do that?

  1. Low Loads – The lighter the load, the faster the CNS can fire and create an abrupt muscle contraction.  However, not too light, too light and you lose the force production.
  1. Fast Speed – Each movement trained for power development needs to be completed as fast as possible while under control.  This happens with MAX intent of the movement.
  1. Low volume – The CNS fatigues really fast.  So, the more repetitive the movements are, the sooner the CNS fatigues and the weaker the contraction the CNS creates.

At Par4Success we train power specifically to golf based on a formal power assessment with specific movements which correlate the highest to club head speed.  To see just how powerful you are check out the link below.

Click here for a golf specific power assessment 

Your Golf Fitness Programs 

While there are many other areas in which you can look to swing faster and drive the ball further, golf fitness programs are here to stay and it’s changing the game right in front of our eyes.  

Like it or not, the better players are those who are investing in golf fitness and making developments in their own physical transformation.  The profile of the players in the current era are those who are swinging faster in a benefit from physical development.  From a PGA professional to your average 10 handicap, golf fitness is making an impact on everyone’s game.  

Tyler Johnson MS, CSCS