Without a doubt, golf and fitness have been inextricably connected. The benefits of working out specifically for golf have been highlighted time and again by the top professional golfers in the world. While there are many different types of golf swing philosophies, there is still a common basic level of physical ability necessary to perform the full golf swing. Amateur and recreational golfers now understand the simple fact that physical limitations such as poor flexibility and a weak core can affect their ability to perform an efficient, consistent golf swing no matter which swing model they are learning. I recently became more aware of this reality when I got a new middle aged client that had NEVER played golf before and wanted to learn. Realizing how important his body was to playing the game, he signed up for 6 weeks of golf fitness training with me at the same time as he signed up for 6 weeks of golf swing lessons from a PGA professional teacher.
In light of these connections, golfers must find a way to analyze themselves from both a physical and technical standpoint. One way to do this is to participate in a golf fitness screen. While many different medical and fitness professionals are selling their own golf specific screens, there is no doubt in my mind that the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) has created the current gold standard screen. I have used this screen hundreds of times and I know that when I am completed with the TPI physical tests I will have all the information I need to develop a corrective exercise program for the golfer. The screens will assess all the key movements and muscles used in the swing as well as looking at an individual’s posture, balance, power, and patterns of movement. After assessing these areas, the TPI fitness professional will then prescribe exercises and stretches designed to correct the physical limitations. Some of these exercises will be available through an online program that has video descriptions and pictures of the exercises that are all downloadable for printing or to an IPOD or other media device for portability. Other exercises may be provided by your TPI trainer based on their own experiences with golfers. In many cases they may be even more specific because the trainer has spent time learning from your local golf swing teaching professional and is aware of the necessary physical requirements of that teachers swing philosophy.
Once you have begun correcting your physical limitations, you will then return to your PGA professional and learn how to integrate your new abilities into the golf swing. At this point, you are now ready to move on even further with your golf fitness trainer because you will inevitably continue seeking improvements in your game, especially in the areas of increasing power and distance off the tee.
As you can see, I am describing a progressive pattern of training that is based on achieving basic levels of movement with your TPI program and then moving on to more sport specific power fitness training all the while as you are advancing your swing efficiency by working with your PGA teaching professional. In my opinion, this is the new model way of learning and improving in the game of golf. Obviously, there are other very important factors in the game including equipment analysis, mental training, and medical care specific to physical injuries that may limit ability in golf. But initially the only requirement is to have an expert that can help you understand how to swing the club correctly and an expert that can help you understand how to move and train your body to achieve those key swing positions.
Sounds easy enough, but really all we can do as teaching professionals is create the “right environment” for potential success; you the student are in control of the outcome of success or failure. So if you really want to get better at golf, I believe you should seek out these professionals and get to work on your physical and technical abilities. The game is just easier to learn when you get the right information and motivation. Good luck on your journey, and be tenacious in your pursuit of perfection!
Scott Shepard, MSPT CSCS TPI
Scott Shepard is based in Central Florida and has an office in Lake Mary, FL. For more information on Scott and his golf specific fitness and injury rehabilitation programs please visit www.planeperformance.com or contact him at 407-222-7489.
Check out Scott’s other great articles!
Foam – Thats How I Roll – Golf specific Mobility
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