A common question among golfers is whether or not conditioning is necessary for golf. How you answer this will vary depending on your age and skill level, yet the benefits remain the same. If you condition for golf you will look better, feel better, play longer and as a bonus, hit it straighter, drive it longer and score better.
The average golfer takes up the game at an age when they’re no longer participating in other sports or living more of a sedentary lifestyle. Most participants generally view golf as a technical game rather than an athletic event, since it requires less physical exertion than most other sports.
It’s this misconception that all too often results in injury or performance plateaus. That fact is golfers are athletes, and just like other athletes from any given sport need to prepare the body accordingly to optimize performance.
Consider the fact that the average amateur golfer achieves about 90% of total muscle activity when driving a golf ball.
To put this in perspective, 90% of total muscle activity is equivalent to lifting a heavy object about 3 or 4 times before reaching total exhaustion. Yet golfers fail to consider they strike the ball about 40 times per game with comparable intensity, a level of exertion that equates golf with other sports such as football or hockey.
The only difference is that other athletes outside of golf integrate personalized conditioning programs as part of their preparation.
Let’s look at some scientific evidence and statistics to prove our point:
- At any given time, as many as 30% of all professional golfers are playing with some sort of injury
- 53% of male and 45% of female golfers suffer from back pain during or after a round of golf
- Those who participate in other sports are 40% more likely to develop back pain than those who just play golf
- Twenty-five years ago the average male golfer’s handicap was 16.2. The average female handicap was 29. Today, the average handicaps are 16.1 and 28.9 respectively.
What does this tell us? Golfers are susceptible to injuries and despite the advances in club technology, are not improving.
The reason is simple. Golf is a rotational sport that requires a sequential recruitment of multiple joints and muscles to complete complex movement patterns. To optimize the function of these movements, golfers must train using scientific programs designed to improve the integration and synchronization of the entire body. No matter what type of training aid a golfer refers to for improvement, no amount of aid will endow the physical capacity one does not possess.
“It was biomechanic swing studies, it was time in the gym… It’s not really a secret. It was 9 months of hard work and then overnight I was swinging 6mph faster.” – Phill, Ottawa
Take it from my client Phil, a guy now in his 50’s who can still go shot for shot with the younger, stronger players on tour. Despite the natural beauty of those calf muscles, Phil put in a ton of work over the last few years to elevate his game and continue to compete at the highest level.
Engaging in an exercise program is only part of a solution and if you’re not assessing, you’re guessing. If you truly want to maximize results you should consider consulting a professional to assess your physical state and design a qualified program tailored to your needs.
With the growing popularity of the health and fitness industry it’s easy to find exercise tips and suggestions across various resources. The problem is that the information provided is often conflicting or based on body-building principles.
Most of this is great if your goal is big shoulders and biceps, but none of this will address functional exercise principles that are key components to efficient swing mechanics. Address your needs, optimize mobility, unblock potential and improve performance.