Improve your Golf Game: Get Stronger

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It’s still winter in Massachusetts and the golf courses are going to be covered in snow soon, which means no golf for a while.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot work to improve your game, however. 

Being a little over 4 months (give or take) until what I consider golf season, now is the time to train for the season. Use these winter months to get stronger and you will get better.

Taking the next 16-20 weeks to work on strength and stability will have you hitting the ball further than you ever have.

But can you really get better without swinging the clubs? Yes, here’s why.

Improving golf performance starts with increasing length of the ball strike, aka how far you can hit the ball.

Professional golfers may not need more distance off of their clubs, but I wonder how many amateur golfers would suffer from hitting the ball further. (See: not many).

There are two related variables that go into hitting a greater driving distance:

1. Club head speed

2. Greater ball speed as a result of an increased club head speed.

Improving your golf game can be as simple as improving your muscular strength.

Players with a lower handicap have been shown to be stronger and more powerful in the lower body, specifically the hips. This is probably because greater power and strength in the leg/hips and trunk has led to higher swing speeds.

At this point I would like to go off topic and mention the injustice towards lefty golfers. I am a lefty and I have always played with numerous lefties. I cannot explain this concentration of southpaws, but we are not as uncommon as it seems. For once, I would like to see a video or instruction that used lead foot instead of left foot (righty orientation).

Anyway so there has been a correlation found between the left hip abductors (stupid righties) and handicap. This means that stronger glutes means lower scores.

Trunk, shoulder, and grip strength are all higher in lower handicap golfers as well.

Interestingly, trunk power is developed in the lower body and transfers through the torso. This means that the glutes are important for swinging the club rapidly since they are generating the necessary force.

The core must also stay stable because the power will be lost if you look like this guy.

 

Drive ball speed is correlated with performance in vertical jump, pushups, pull-ups, and grip strength. These are all basic aspects of strength training and increasing performance in overall strength will result in hitting the ball further.

Club head speed is correlated to chest strength and rotational power (covered above). Rotational stability has also improved club head speed when compared to standard strength training.

Quarter turn box jumps are great for developing lower body power. The legs will do the work and the rest of the body will stabilize for completion of the movement.

Take your standard box jump setup (starting low until optimal height is determined) and start facing 90 degrees from the box. You will rotate mid air and land facing forward with standard box jump landing mechanics. Repeat facing left and right of the box.

Summary

Upper body strength, lower body strength, lower body power, and rotational stability will improve the performance characteristics of the golf game. An emphasis seems to be on the glutes since they are important for developing lower body power and strength while keeping the knees and back healthy.

This idea basically implies that if you move like the tin man with the strength of a 6 year old, your golf success will be limited.

Lots of single leg work, hip dominant movements, and mobility drills should be programmed. Training core stability will help performance in the golf swing and the ability to develop rotational power.

Grip is an underrated performance factor in improving golf performance. Luckily, grip is pretty easy to train for. Grab something heavy and carry it. To go a step further, wrap a towel around a lighter weight to provide a new stimulus. This strategy can be done for pull-ups too.

Med ball work, plyos, and kettlebell swings are more options to increase lower body power. Pushups, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, lunges, and rows will also have a huge impact on your performance.

If you want to take your game a step up, you must work to get strong. You can keep swinging away at the range but that is not going to make you hit the ball further (unless you can’t hit anything but the woods).

Train for whole body strength and you will be happier with your golf game. 

References:

Seiler, S., Skaanes, P., Kirkesola, G. and Katch, F. (2006) Effects of sling exercise training on maximal clubhead velocity in juniorgolfers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 38, S286.

 

Torres-Ronda, L., Sánchez-Medina, L., & González-Badillo, J. J. (2011). Muscle strength and golf performance: A critical review. Journal Of Sports Science & Medicine, 10(1), 9-18.

Wells, G.D., Elmi, M. and Thomas, S. (2009) Physiological correlates of golf performance. Journal of Strength and ConditioningResearch 23, 741-750.