Physical Conditioning for Golf Players
11 Aug Physical Conditioning for Golf Players
in Performance Hub
by Aiden Kelly
The physical conditioning for golf players is now an essential component of the sport.
Over the years, enhancing performance within the game has been primarily focused on improving the technology, not the player.
In the sporting world there is probably no other sport that athletes receive more criticism for changing how you train, approach the game and manage yourself – and it usually comes from other players at elite level.
More recently however, a big emphasis has been placed on developing the strength and conditioning in golf players.
Golf is a game involving sudden moments of exertion – specifically on one side of the body that a player favours. In a single game, a player can swing up to 100 times per game from one side of their body which often creates many muscle imbalances and injuries.
Golf is no longer just a game of skill and precision, it requires vast upper body strength, balance and flexibility, especially at a professional level. Common injuries can be prevented by off-course training, such as strength and conditioning.
Becoming stronger isn’t just to hit the ball further either. Strength training is essential in all sport, not just golf and is the basis for athletic improvement and injury prevention.
Yes, hitting the ball further is a main requirement and strength does help the ability to increase club head speed and yardage, but it also helps a golfer decrease the speed of the stroke and decrease fatigue within the sport. A golfer who strength trains becomes more efficient and makes playing the game more effortless.
Reasons to strength train:
Whether you’re a professional or weekend warrior of the green, strength and resistance training will help your golf game.
The common misconception in golf was that flexibility was the key to drive the ball 250+ meters. Yes, flexibility is still important and something that should be worked on, but hitting the gym is essential to ensure the strength needed for a powerful golf swing.
This is not a myth either, there is research to back the weights room. A study conducted an 18-week strength training program on low handicap players and the result was that most enhanced their explosive and maximal strength after the first 6 weeks and their golf performance increased after 12 weeks.
Reduces Asymmetries and injury
Asymmetries is the lack of equality or equivalence between parts or lack of symmetry in the body.
Golf is a rotational sport, where you rotate from the same side of the body frequently. Like similar rotating sports such as tennis, the working and non-working sides are obvious with a difference in size.
Without strength and resistance training, swinging from one side of the body creates imbalances between the working and non-working side. This creates a high risk for injuries among athletes.
Strength and resistance training will help reduce these imbalances and is important to the not only managing a players body, but helps with the swing itself.
Strength fights fatigue
Golf is a long sport and it’s not uncommon to notice you fade as you reach the last couple of holes.
Strength training helps fight fatigue and builds muscular endurance. Consistency also comes from muscular endurance, which is built in the gym.
The stronger your muscles are, the longer you will last. For golfers, this means your muscles can tolerate the repetition of a golf swing and have your last swing feel as good as your first.
You will endure 18 holes of golf easier, and you won’t even need a golf cart!
Hear from an expert:
Exercise Right spoke with Senior Lecturer and Head of Discipline for Exercise and Sports Science of the University of Notre Dame, Dr Chris Joyce.
Dr Chris Joyce is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and approved Australian PGA Education provider and owner of the Golf Rehab Clinic in Fremantle, Western Australia.
We asked Dr Joyce why strength and conditioning is becoming more popular within the sport and now essential for both amateurs and professional of the sport.
Golf strength and conditioning
Understanding musculoskeletal screening methods and implications for conditioning with golf is a major factor in an Australian PGA Associate who aspires to be a Professional. The average professional golfer experiences two injuries per year with the back, wrist, and shoulder as the most common injury sites, mainly due to long practice and playing time.
Many PGA Associates are young golfers who develop kyphotic postures, weak musculature, and poor flexibility through little to no conditioning. PGA Tour players such as Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy have made strength and conditioning popular within the sport due to their physical improvements which have translated into hitting longer off the tee.
Golf-specific musculoskeletal screening methods are now common-place in professionals and amateur golfers alike and focus on the key areas of posture, flexibility, balance, and strength. These impairments highlight common physical golf swing impairments such as hip rotation and shoulder turn. Exercise professionals can then implement effective programming to “build” a more flexible and stronger golf-body, linking to research which has shown exercise intervention can improve physical traits which lead to faster clubhead speeds and longer hitting distances.
If you are a young aspiring PGA Professional, a recreational, or senior golfer, consultation with an exercise professional and undertaking a strength and conditioning program will improve your physical ability to play golf and reduce your overuse injuries.
For all golfers, incorporating flexibility, strength, and power training into your exercise program has been proven too:
- Increase hip and shoulder turn by reducing muscle stiffness resistance to your natural swing path
- Develop a ‘dynamic’ posture increasing stability and balance in your golf swing
- Reduce muscular fatigue to maintain performance throughout your round
- Increase trunk rotational speed
- Generate faster clubhead speed!
Improve your golf game with a professional
An accredited exercise professional can assist you by guiding you through an individualised, safe and evidence-based exercise program to “bulletproof” your workouts. Get in touch with your local exercise expert today.
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Written by Exercise Right. We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.
Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.