Most golfers convince themselves that they play the game for relaxation and an opportunity to enjoy their friends’ company and the great outdoors — that’s the story in January, February, and March, anyway.
Then, along comes Spring, and the reality of the game sets in. You spend a morning trying to make a little white ball go into 18 different holes, hitting it with a variety of clubs many more times than you ever thought possible. At the end of the round, your back hurts, your legs are tired and your ego is bruised. The game is no longer relaxing; it is a challenge.
There are five things that are necessary to perform well on the golf course, according to Paul Callaway, the first director of physical therapy on the PGA tour: professional instruction, properly fit equipment, mental training, natural ability or talent, and physical training. Most golfers spend less time on their physical training than on the other elements, according to Callaway.
“Golfers should be aware that their most important piece of golf equipment is their body,” Callaway said. “It’s a fundamental law in the physical world that structure determines performance. This applies to the body also. Just as a bent shaft in your 5 iron will affect performance potential, a bent body will affect the swing path and safety,” he said.
To have a consistent, accurate, and safe swing, it is necessary to have symmetrical posture, strong abdominal muscles, a strong upper back, good balance, and full hip and spine rotation.
This ideal “golfer structure” will allow good posture at address and maximum spine rotation, which are critical in hitting the ball well.
Golf-specific stretching and strengthening exercises are key in achieving a good golfer build and remaining injury free, according to Callaway. “Your golf professional will be able to recommend a health and fitness expert who is knowledgeable about the specific demands of golf,” he said.
The integration of a customized golf-specific training program will improve your physical ability to benefit from the professional golf instruction you receive, the equipment you buy, the practice time your spend on your game, and any mental training you receive. “This integration will enable you to have the real potential of becoming the best and safest golfer that you can be,” concluded Callaway.