What separates athletes from where they are now and where they want to be is what they are missing.
Field athletes might be lacking speed, quickness, or skills.
When it comes to golf there are many categories that can drastically affect performance. They should really breakdown into the following.
- Club Fitting
- Swing Training
- Short Game
The first one is easy. If your clubs do not fit you, it is going to be tough to hit the ball well. Start here. The only downside is that getting properly fit does not mean that you are automatically going to get better.
Swing training is mostly outside of my realm. I have a basic understanding of the different characteristics of the swing but I can’t even pretend to know how to fix them (outside of general body movement). A lot of people will benefit from swing training. There are some limitations to only training the swing, but more on that in a minute.
The short game is obviously very important. Ever wonder why some guys are 75 years old, hit hybrids from 100 yards out, and still shoot under 80? Pay attention to how many putts they take. Its usually not many. On the green in 3 and bury the putt. Its that simple until you add chipping and getting the ball to the green to the equation. Having a great short game is a big difference maker but you must get the ball there.
Alright time for me to shine. My realm really lies in the physical performance characteristics.
Mobility and strength kind of becomes a chicken and egg scenario. On one end you need to have the range of motion to safely train. The contradicting side is that some people lack mobility because of a stability issue. I say train both together and see which one rises to the top.
Flexibility or mobility will help golfers get into optimal positions in their swing. This makes swing training a lot easier. If your swing coach wants you to rotate to a certain point, the range of motion has to be there.
An example is the upper back. When we rotate into the backswing, the upper back must turn away from the target. A golfer that does not have good T spine rotation will have an abbreviated back swing. This may cause them to hit a lot of bad shots or have perfect hand eye coordination to time out the contact.
Improving mobility will help the golfer rotate and he or she can now get into positions that make the PGA pros job easier.
Strength training can also have an important impact on golf performance. Hitting the ball further is important. Distance matters. If you do not believe me ask Dustin Johnson how the US Open went. That guy was hammering the ball around the place.
The common rebuttal to statements like that are “yea, I will just hit it further into the woods.” Well, figure out why you are hitting it into the woods and fix that. It must be one of the reasons I have listed above.
Once, that is addressed you will be happier hitting shorter clubs into greens.
Power training is the wild card that comes into the scene a little bit later on. Power is the ability to develop strength fast. Strength must be there to develop power.
Power development should be considered the advanced version of strength training. I am going to use arbitrary numbers for a second.
Lets say your swing speed is 90 MPH. Strength training alone gets you to 100. Power training alone also gets you to 100. Adding power training after strength training gets you to 110. Which one do you want?
Power training is important but do not devalue the importance strength plays in the scenario.
Just to wrap up, all 6 of the qualities I have listed above affect your golf game.
Case Study: Me 13.2 handicap
- I hit the ball much better and more comfortable with clubs that are fit for me. All of my clubs needed lie angle adjusted and shortened. Buying off the rack wouldn’t cut it.
- My actual swing is my limiting factor. My swing is not repeatable and falls out of rhythm quite often. I struggle to get it back once the wheels fall off.
- The short game is often pretty good. When its off we are headed for a high number but who isn’t?
- I have a good amount of mobility. I am limited in hip in the backswing so my upper back must make up for it. Luckily I can.
- My strength has been climbing significantly the longer I go. In high school I used to hit a 5 wood 150 yards. (It used to be the most reliable club). That is between an 8/9 iron now. There are not a whole lot of mid handicappers out-driving me. The difference was lifting 0 pounds then to being able to deadlift 325 now.
- I have not really put a big focus on power development. I plan to this coming winter. I fully expect to be able to hit the ball further with the right training.
So my case study is not to brag because there is nothing to really brag about. I enjoy playing and will continue to do so. My missing link is swing training. What is yours?
Distance Made Simple for Golf is a 12 week strength training program designed to help golfers hit the ball further and shoot lower scores. If you are frustrated with your distance you need to check this out.