Greater power and distance could very well be the most asked-for thing I see in our centers. Here is a typical story:
“Dave, I hit my driver 160 yards. I can’t reach even the moderate length par 3’s anymore, and the par 5’s play like par 6’s. I have a complicated injury history, including ACL repair, rotator cuff repair, multiple back surgeries, and I am 60 years old. Over the last 10 years I have lost 60 yards in driving distance, and my irons are 20 yards shorter. I just can’t get there anymore. I do hit every fairway as long as there is not a forced carry of more than 150 yards. My scores are up, I’m frustrated and discouraged. I’m never going to give up the game, but it’s surely not as fun as it used to be. Can you help me?”
My answer to this person is “probably… but let’s test you and see what you can do”. Then, a full Golf Performance Evaluation happens. In that, we do a Functional Movement Screen (you might know it as a TPI assessment). I tend to look carefully at several items. What I have learned over time is that several of those tests are related to consistency. Additionally, several of those tests are about power. Then, we break down the functional movement challenges, and finally, document and assess the swing motion with a K-Vest (3-D motion assessment) and a force plate called the “dynamic balance system”. Once we have all the data, I then build a program for this person to handle the physical challenges that are behind his distance challenges.
In this person’s case, he was challenged by toe touch, bridge, abdominal control, overhead deep squat, independent pelvic rotation, independent torso rotation, and pelvic tilt in golf stance. Break down of those tests showed that he had profound weakness proximally, in the glutes, and abs rotationally, but that he was pretty strong in his push-pull movements. His spine rotation was weak, and his scapular control was weak. There was slight tightness in his left hip flexor.
The swing data showed late and slow pelvis on the downswing, poor stabilization of the upper and lower body after peak rotational speed, and poor rotation ranges of the pelvis and torso in both the back swing and at impact. He has 17 degrees of loss of posture on top of it all. No wonder he can’t get the ball to fly… efficiency is low, and movements are out of sequence. His weight was also on his toes.
You might think, Dave, “how in the world are you going to help this man?”
To me, this is a fairly straight forward situation. Fix the stability issues of Toe Touch, Overhead Deep Squat, and Pelvic Tilt in Golf Stance, and that will help his posture issues. That will have a positive effect on distance, as he will have an easier time finding the center of the face at impact. There is data from the club manufacturers that shows that, with the driver, for every quarter of an inch off the center of the face, the player gives up 10% of the distance. So by improving postural stability and helping the golfer find the center of the race, he gets longer without working on speed or rotation at all. How’s that for cool?
Then, we move into fixing rotation of the body. Give the man, through the right sequence of exercises, the ability to rotate his pelvis fully without compensation and a bit more speed, then work on the movement of rotation of the torso in a similar manner. Now, we have a golfer who is stable over the ball, and can rotate with decent speed and not lose angles as he gets rotationally faster. This is what I have seen to be one of the keys to gaining distance.
The bottom line is good fundamentals of function- clear toe touch, overhead deep squat, pelvic tilt in golf stance, independent pelvic rotation, and independent torso rotation- these are the physical keys to power and distance. These fundamentals seem to allow efficient and stable motion in the golf swing. That is a big factor in gaining distance and power.
David Ostrow, PT GPS, CGFI-MP3, Certified Junior Golf Fitness Coach CEO, FitGolf Enterprises
If you try these exercises and you find them to be too challenging or uncomfortable, do not continue, until you have consulted with your physician. All exercises for golf should be customized to your needs after a proper evaluation.
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