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The Six Biggest Myths in Golf Fitness

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As a golf fitness professional, I spend most of my waking hours writing programs and protocols to help golfers perform better. The moment when a golfer starts to move and feel better, swing better, or post lower scores as a result of one of my programs is my greatest motivation. However, when I step out of my bubble of dedicated clients, the misconceptions and pseudo-science that seem to greet golfers in developing their fitness programs always shock me. Furthermore, this misinformation is stopping golfers achieving these moments of better movement, a better golf swing, or lower scores for themselves.

Indeed, I recently polled golfers on my social media communities for their opinions on golf fitness. Much of the results reflected long standing (and I had hoped long dead!) myths such as weight training reducing flexibility, making golfers too slow or too big to properly execute the swing. Writing this is my attempt to dispel some of the most commonplace fitness myths I see touted to golfers. So without further ado, let the myth busting commence!

Myth No. 1

Golfers shouldn’t lift weights because it will make them tight. This will ruin a player’s ability to swing.

Ah the big one! It amazes me this myth is still quite so prevalent to be honest. After all, look at Tiger Woods’ success since bulking up and massively increasing his strength levels after his Masters win as a lanky 21-year-old.

First of all, research has actually shown that resistance training is one of the most effective ways to develop functional mobility and flexibility. A properly designed strength program, in conjunction with playing golf, is the best way to make your strength and flexibility gains golf specific.

Let’s also not forget about injury prevention. Golf is a much more physical sport than most people think. You only need to look at force plate and biomechanical analysis of the forces on the body during the golf swing to get an understanding of this. Heck, guys are swinging a 44-to-46-inch club at well over 100 mph! Strength training is imperative to staying healthy and overcoming muscular imbalances created by the asymmetrical nature of the golf swing.

Finally, swinging a golf club is one of the most explosive activities in all of sports. Without a strong, powerful lower body, you’ll never reach your full potential.

bench-press

Myth No. 2

Golfers shouldn’t bench press because it’s not “sport specific.”

In reality, no exercise is truly sport specific. We make the physical attributes gained in the weight room specific by playing golf and learning how to transfer these attributes to the course. Don’t get me wrong; certain exercises are more productive than others. And remember that it is impossible to duplicate the speed, intensity and technique of the golf swing in the weight room, and it’s something that golfers shouldn’t try to do.

The bottom line is that the bench press is a great, multi joint, free-weight exercise for developing strength in the chest, triceps and shoulders. And there’s nothing wrong with that! The chest, back and triceps musculature have been shown by Dr. Sergio Marta in multiple studies to be the most important muscles in the upper body for the golf swing.

I’m not saying that the bench press is the most important exercise for golfers, but it can and should be incorporated into the training programs of most golfers.

Myth No. 3

Olympic lifts are the only way to get explosive.

Olympic lifting is without doubt a great way to develop speed, power, explosiveness and overall athleticism. As countless strength coaches and studies have shown, they improve clubhead speed and lead to greater distance off the tee. While I’m not disputing their effectiveness, I do believe there are other more user-friendly and effective moves to develop power in the golf swing.

The Olympic lifts have a large learning curve and mastering the complex form required can be difficult and time consuming. After all, Olympic lifting is a sport in itself! Olympic weightlifters spend their entire lives practicing these lifts and some of these athletes still never perfect them! Research has shown simpler and much more teachable moves, such as the weighted squat jump bring all the benefits of the Olympic lifts to golfers without the learning curve.

Recent studies into power development in rotational sports have also shown that power is plane specific. That is, you only develop power in the direction of movement in which you are training. The Olympic lifting movements above are sagittal plane dominant (movement is up and down). With this in mind the golf swing, which features movements in the transverse plane (rotation movement) and frontal plane (movement is side to side), should be trained using movements with a rotational and/or lateral nature.

For these reasons I tend to opt for med-ball training, jump drills and lateral jumps to get power training in. Many of these lack any significant learning curve at all, provide great effect and have the happy coincidence of utilising movement in the same plane as the golf swing.

[youtube id=”MVLBx630S44″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

Myth No. 4

Strength training is unsafe for kids.

Parents that wouldn’t hesitate to get their young children involved in sports such as football, gymnastics, basketball and indeed golf often fear that participating in a strength-training program is damaging to their children’s long term health and may even stunt their growth. Nothing can be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that running, jumping, swinging a golf club and many of the activities our children are involved in daily create loading on their bodies that is up to 10 times greater than most strength training exercises. In other words, the physical demands on a child’s body are far greater on the playground, golf course or running track compared to the weight room.

Parents who don’t let their children participate in resistance training could actually be increasing their children’s risk of injury on the athletic field, as weight training has been shown to have the same injury prevention benefits in children as in adults. Indeed, there have even been campaigns by organizations such as the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Paediatrics promoting the benefits of participation in a properly designed and supervised resistance training program for children.

Prepubescent children shouldn’t lift maximal weights; they should lift weights that can be lifted for at least six repetitions with proper form. Strength training in this manner can be the most potent exercise stimulus for bone and muscle growth and development, as well as improving balance, coordination and kinaesthetic awareness, all of which are vital for a child’s athletic development. In fact, research has shown that young weightlifters have greater bone densities than individuals who don’t lift. The positive benefits of resistance training for bone health, injury prevention and improved athletic performance are far greater than the risks.

Myth No. 5

Lifting weights for high reps is more appropriate for golfers as this will “shape” and “tone” their muscles.

I really have no idea how this myth got started, but its prevalence is amazing. Especially considering it has absolutely zero scientific or factual evidence to support it!

Here are the facts. The main difference between a “lean and toned” physique and a “bulky” physique is the amount of body fat that surrounds your muscles. Basically, the “lean and toned” look that most people desire is a result of having muscle that isn’t hidden under layers of fat. And let’s not forget that the best way to build muscle is through strength training.

More importantly, with regards to training for golf, lifting light weights for high reps affects the musculoskeletal system in such a way as to build local muscular endurance. Muscular endurance specific to the golf swing (usually best developed by simply playing golf incidentally) is of course highly useful to golfers, as our sport requires multiple efforts over a long period of time.

Muscular endurance, however, has little to no carryover to any of the other physical qualities we need to address in order to perform better on the course. Strength, on the other hand, is the mother of all physical adaptations. All other physical capacities, such as power, speed, mobility, balance, muscular endurance and coordination depend on force production within the physical environment. If strength improves, all other capacities improve with it to varying degrees. With this being that case, strength training should form the heart, soul and major basis of your training programs for golf.

Myth No. 6

Golfers need to improve balance and build core strength by training on unstable surfaces.

This one, I have to admit, is my personal favorite! Unstable surface training (UST) has become an integral and expected part of many strength and conditioning programs, particularly in golf. Indeed, magazine covers and articles are abundantly promising a better swing, longer drives and lower scores from a few simple exercises performed on a stability ball.

Claims have been made for the effectiveness of UST for injury prehab and rehab, increasing power in the golf swing, increasing balance in the swing and improving swing mechanics. However, there is no evidence that UST reduces the likelihood of injury or improves performance in healthy, trained individuals.

In fact, studies have found that UST minimised improvements in plyometric and agility tests. Basically, the subjects of these studies who weren’t doing UST made bigger gains in power and speed. The other issue highlighted by the UST research is the specific nature of improvements made by trainees. Put bluntly, classic core work on unstable surfaces, such as stability ball crunches or Russian twists, doesn’t really carry over to anything at all, let alone a complex motion carried out whilst standing, like a golf swing.

Stability-ball-core-exercise

Lastly, balance is best trained in the parameters it is to be used. Golf is a game played with both feet on a stable surface and should be trained this way. Additionally, significant anecdotal evidence is beginning to emerge that attempting to replicate sporting tasks on unstable surfaces actually impairs the learning of the skill through competing motor demands. In a sport as technically demanding as golf, this is unacceptable.

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Nick is a TPI certified strength coach with a passion for getting golfers stronger and moving better. Through Stronger Golf he uses unique, research based training methods to create stronger, faster, more athletic golfers. Golfers who are more coachable, achieve higher levels of skill mastery, play injury free, and for longer as a result of improved physical fitness.

46 Comments

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  15. JL Holdsworth

    Apr 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Nick – I started to read the first comment and then realized there was going to be a bunch of nit picking dumb comments and you seemed to handle them much nicer than I do. Great article, totally agree with every point, I just wish more people were trying to get this message out instead of selling their newest miracle gadget. Keep up the good work.

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 6, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Couldn’t agree more about the prevalence of gimmicky gadgets in golf fitness to be honest. Thanks for the comment!

  16. Yorkshire Yogi

    Apr 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Interesting article and a lot of what you say is right however I would make a point on a couple of the items within the article.

    Tiger Woods, although he did bulk up from skinny lanky kid that was. One of the biggest aspects of Tigers game was actually the delicacy of his touch around and on the greens. Who can fail to remember the clutch putt after clutch putt he made throughout many tournaments. His size didn’t affect his touch, however it could be argued that his insistence on such an intense regime is now coming back to bite him with some of the back and knee issues he is and has suffered.

    Of course lifting weights isn’t a bad thing, however how many amateur golfers have a lot of time to spare? The odds are that they will go to the gym and train chest and tris, back and bis, legs or shoulders, a spot of cardio and then leave. No one factors in any warm up and warm down. This is why there the issue arises, the training regime will be sound, but 8/10 regimes lack a proper stretch routine. Even the pro sports mean nd women lack it. Employing strength and endurance coaches but not flexibility and agility coach.

    Strength can also be increased by just using the body’d own weight. How many folk can bench press a couple of plates yet only do a couple of chins, half dozen press ups or stay in a plank for 10 seconds before their body gives over to uncontrollable shakes?

    My final point would refer to point 6, golfers do need core strength and balance, however they can easily do it on a flat surface. Someone mentioned earlier about the muscles in the legs firing away when in a balance. Well, stand on one leg, bend over at the waist and take the arms out wide, see how easy it is.

    Overall we now know so much more about what suits the body than we did even 15 years ago. Evryone is different and reacts to various regimes. However one thing is certain, if you don’t have an effective flexibility program the intensity of your regime will come back to haunt you. Stay strong and stay bendy it is possible to do both. 😉

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 4, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I would like to address some of the points you have raised if I may. Obviously the short game is a vital part of the game and is probably not as directly affected by increasing strength levels (although this is an interesting area of research and strength may have more of a role to play in consistency of swing and short game shots than you would think). However being able to drive the ball 350yrds, hit low long iron shots, hit high stopping balls out of high rough, etc also help with your ability to shot lower scores and these require great strength levels! Its not the be all and end all obviously but it helps is my point. On the injury issue, research is unequivocal on this…strength training makes you less prone to injury and faster to recover if injury does occur!
      Gone are the days of body part splits in training for sports performance, sessions are usually full body as this is more time efficient. A good strength coach, indeed sessions for my clients, will include a full array of flexibility, mobility and speed work in a session alongside the strength and still have the client in and out the door within an hour. All of my clients are more than happy to trade 1 hour 3x a week for better health and better golf.
      Bodyweight exercises are great and we do use them a lot. They teach kinaesthetic awareness and body control which is also a plus in a technical sport like golf. However they are often difficult to externally load or cannot be loaded heavy enough to elicit training effect once the trainee reaches a reasonable level of strength so free weight exercises become more appropriate. Strong is strong usually a seen very few guys (unless they are in heavyweight strength categories, in which case of course their numbers on bodyweight exercises will suffer) who can squat or deadlift twice their bodyweight fail to be able to crank out 10 or 15 pull-ups or hold a plank for several minutes.
      I think there is some confusion over what I meant with no. 6: I am not advocating golfers forgo core work, just that core work on an unstable surface is an incredibly ineffective modality and golfers should seek core work on stable surfaces, and planes specific to golf. Same goes for balance training, golf is played on a stable surface with two legs on the ground and significant dynamic lateral and rotational weight transfer, as such we should train balance in this manner, not on an unstable surface.
      Well put. Stay strong and stay flexible, it is most definitely possible to do both!

      • CraigerP

        Apr 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm

        Why does Tiger Woods have to swing so much harder/faster to hit the golf ball the same distance as the other pros? He blew out a knee and now back surgery! Good bye Tiger.

  17. Kyle

    Apr 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    i would agree with all but # 6. While I get your point I believe this trainings help use(train) those “little” muscles along with ligs & tends that don’t always get specific work. I forces one to engage core more often. You do specify unstable surfaces, but I think we can all agree you should work on stability and the core in some fashion or another. I personally like using UST drills for that.

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 3, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Thanks Kyle. Stability and the core are of course important. Pretty sure that unstable surface training is not the best way to achieve this though. The research on healthy (i.e. not rehabing) trainees is pretty unequivocal on this. Utilising core exercises like the turkish get-up will develop core strength and stability in a manner much functional to the golf swing. Strength training at high reps is also a more effective way to ligament and tendon strength as well as isolate some ‘smaller’ muscles that it is useful to work specifically. But then again, I do believe part of physical trainings effectiveness is mental, if you feel it does you good it probably will, so who am I to say don’t sprinkle in some UST to your strength training if you want too! Just don’t focus on it too much please!

  18. Hieronymus

    Apr 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I am a proponent of P90X. I was a wrestler in high school and have been on various workout programs for the last 40 years. I started with P90X about 5 years ago and repeated it 5 times in row. I went from an overweight somewhat in shape 5′ 11″ 225 pounds down to a lean and mean 179. I had strength at 55 I hadn’t had in 20 years. I lost an inch and a half on my Biceps alone. I went from doing 17 pushups to 45. 1 pullup to 9. A diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis put me on the bench for a while but I have since moved on to P90X3. I started this December 23rd and have lost 22 pounds. I am a believer….just push play.

  19. Taylor

    Apr 2, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    This is the best thing I have ever read on golfwrx. I opened this with my eyes rolling thinking I’d be seeing the opposite(per the norm in the golf fitness)…. Bravo, I hope everyone reads this!

  20. Thom H

    Apr 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Great article, thanks Nick. When I hit my mid 30’s, golf started aggravating my back. It may have been a blessing in disguise, as it forced me to diligently get into the gym for strength training. A couple questions:

    1. I like the medicine ball rotation – but there is no wall to slam against in my gym. Any alternative suggestions?
    2. I have had good results with back extensions in a 45° roman chair. I don’t see this type of exercise mentioned on your site. Is this something you would recommend against?

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 2, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Thanks Thom. Good to hear another example of the benefits of strength training on golf performance and injury prevention.
      The ideal solution to the med ball wall is to have a partner to throw to. Alternatively, the key really is an exercise to develop power. Lateral jumps are probably your best bet as they include a lateral element similar to that in the golf swing. Check them out here http://strongergolf.org/2013/08/29/heidens-lateral-power-golf-swing/ squat jumps or box jumps, dumbbell weighted jumps, dumbbell snatch, standing long jumps, seated box jumps, med ball floor slams or even plyo push-ups are also useful in developing power in the golf swing.
      Yes definitely use back extension. the hip hinge (as in a back extension) is a vital movement for all athletes including golfers. Personally I prefer kettlebell swings or cable pull throughs as they incorporate some power work and require you to control and stabilise your entire body. That said if back extensions work for you carry on! Just remember also to keep including your big compound lower body lifts like squats and deadlifts.

  21. Miguel

    Apr 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    This off season I have started doing 5×5 exercises for the purpose of losing weight, getting stronger and being a better golfer. And this article is very nice since I have been searching for articles online about lifting weights and how it can help my golf game.

    Seeing how Tiger Woods become jacked up is really inspiring because most people I talk to laugh at me when I said I am lifting weights for my golf game. Maybe because most of the tour players, at least before, really don’t look like someone who has stepped into a gym.

    Since I live in Canada, the winters are long and harsh so I have spent most of the winter lifting weights and running indoors. I hope that this summer it will have a big effect on my game.

    By the way should you recommend lifting weights even if the golfing season comes? If so my many times should I lift then? Maybe 2 or 3 x a week or less?

    Thanks!

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Miguel, 5×5 is a great place to be for strength gains and better golf. Sure you will see a big pay off after your winter of hard work.

      This is a difficult one to answer without knowing you really and depends on how much golf you are playing and how much you are training now and your recovery ability. Best advice is to continue as you are with frequency of your strength training and see how your body responds with the added golf. However I would definitely drop the volume on assistance work and muscular endurance work you are doing (this won’t be needed as you are playing more golf anyway). Additionally, move to more golf specific moves like lateral and rotational moves and power moves rather than just 5×5 on compound strength moves.

  22. Hayden

    Apr 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I have to commend you on this terrific article. I’m a competitive powerlifter and recreational golfer (hopefully I’ll be competitive in both soon) and I see and hear a lot of awful claims and training techniques every day on both golf training and fitness overall. Thank you for spreading the truth, I hope people listen to your advice rather than than refuting it. Keep up the great work!

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      Thank you Hayden! I hope people are beginning to get our message. And great to have you on board as a golfer, we need more powerlifters in golf! 😉

  23. ryan

    Apr 2, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Well written! However, I disagree with #4. I am a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor as well as a health educator in the early childhood world. Kids need to be involved in active play both indoors and outdoors at young ages. If they are to do ‘exercises’ they should be either isokinetic or band resistance ‘exercises’ as well as free body exercises. We need to focus less on getting kids to understand reps/sets and instead teach them body awareness, effort awareness and relationship awareness through fun and inclusive activities. Hopping and skipping generate osteoblast development just as ‘weight training’ does so why not have kids doing high impact social activities when they are young.

    “Unsafe” is not really even a factor in this decision, we all know that with good guidance and a well thought out exercise program, safety should never be an issue. I think the issue here is the myth of what is ‘best appropriate’ for young children and that makes me think that reps and sets is not the answer. Outdoor/indoor MVPA and unstructured/structured activity sounds better to me and the 100’s of kids I have worked with.

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 2, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Thanks Ryan!
      The six rep rule is taken from Zatsiorsky’s guidelines and does not incapsulate my entire strategy when coaching kids, merely the part I felt applied most to this article. I usually utilise bodyweight moves almost entirely for younger children and less experienced trainees. I am also broadly anti-early specialisation so our sessions involve many other games and activities to build kinaesthetic awareness, etc whilst driving the most important aspect which is of course fun.
      I hole heartedly take your point regarding hopping and skipping and perhaps should endeavour to make this a larger part of training for our more physically able and athletic kids (do still however have some reservations about the use of any sort of plyometric exercise on a skeletal system already carrying too much mass shall we say, don’t know if you agree?)
      I totally agree here. Unsafe isn’t really an issue with proper programming and guidance. Although personal experience, for me at least, has shown that many parents still fear any type of strength training for their kids when it has many benefits as we know, and should not be feared.

  24. Mark

    Apr 1, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Nice article! I’m in Canada so each off season I hit the gym to get some strength back that I lose during the summer months when I spend more time on course and less in the gym. I usually work around a 5×5 type program with some other aspects worked in, but this year I started adding a few more Oly lifts. I’ve been doing cleans and snatches (power and full for both) and found that it forced me to work on hip, ankle and shoulder flexibility that I hadn’t focused on as much previously, so that’s an added bonus for me.

    As someone who puts in a lot of reps on the range and does a ton of video work, I LOVE working on my form on the complex Oly moves. It’s technical, complicated and takes time and I think that’s why I fell in love with it so much. It’s the strength training equivalent of the golf swing.

    I can’t wait for this long winter to pass and to see how it pays off on the course. Look forward to additional articles from you.

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 2, 2014 at 6:24 am

      Thanks Mark! 5×5 and olympic lifts are a great combination for golf. Especially if you have the time, energy and love to properly master the oly lifts they will pay off big time. Never thought of the comparison between learning the oly lifts and the golf swing but yes you are spot on…so many similarities there!
      Thanks again, as do I.
      Best of luck with the game once the winter is out of the way, sure your hard work in the gym will reap it rewards.

  25. todd v

    Apr 1, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Great article! This past winter (which started in mid-November here in Rochester NY and still isn’t over) I’ve focused on strength training. Mostly a regimen of bench press, squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, bent over rows along with some other muscle specific exercises. I added some cardio, too. Basically a 5×5 regimen with a few more exercises.

    It is nice to see an article that reinforces the fact that strength training is essential to general health AND your golf game. This winter I’ve been told “You should be doing yoga instead”, “you aren’t working enough on your balance”, and “you are harming your joints.”

    The truth is my shoulder pain has disappeared, my back (sore from hours sitting at a desk) feels better than it did when I was in my 30s, and I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. Early work at the range seems promising, and I can’t wait to see the impact on my game this year.

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 2, 2014 at 6:15 am

      Thanks Todd! 5×5 is an awesome place to start and I love the compound exercise choices. Exactly, there are so many myths surrounding strength training and it’s perils. However in reality strength is an awesome physical adaptation that in my experience improves most other things! Best of luck with the new season, sure you’ll be very happy with the results of you’re winters hard work!

  26. Ben Hudson

    Apr 1, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Great article Nick! I have been rehabing both a knee and back injury (well, the back is more pain than anything), and I don’t think it’s going all that well. When I play a round of golf, usually by hole 13 or 14 my lower back on the leading edge (my lower right) begins to hurt in the golf stance. This also happens when I’m washing dishes, sweeping, or doing any chore that involves that slightly bent over pose. Any advice on strengthening and PT exercises I could do for this area?

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 2, 2014 at 6:10 am

      Thanks Ben! I don’t know without doing a physical screening on you obviously, but assuming your a like 80-90% of the population with a desk job. Injuries to the lower back are usually caused or exacerbated by poor thoracic spine mobility. Take a look at the few articles from my blog which explain what your thoracic spine is and how to get mobility up to scratch (bonus alert: you’ll get more shoulder turn out of this too!) Would also recommend some work strengthening and improving mobility in the lats, think lots of rowing exercise variations (steer clear of barbell bent over rows tho as these will not do well with your lower back, standing cable/resistance band rows, face pulls or band pull-aparts are probably your best bets) The knee injury could be a stability issue so incorporate lots of single legs work (lunges, reverse lunges, split-squats, step-ups etc). Hope this helps.

  27. David

    Mar 31, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Awesome article, Nick. As a former gymnast, my flexibility was always there, but not always the power. Largely because I had trained for different muscle groups. However, when it came to strength training, even in gymnastics, it was focused strength moves, one exercise at a time. Your Olympic lift illustration couldn’t be more applicable. Thank you.

    • Nick Buchan

      Apr 1, 2014 at 6:44 am

      Thanks David. Not everyone is as lucky as you so some will need to work on the flexibility, it is important of course. But totally agree, almost everyone completely underestimates the importance of strength to golfers.

  28. Kyle

    Mar 31, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Nick,

    As a physical therapist and strength coach it is so refreshing to read some quality training information that is evidence based and practical in the golf world. Unfortunately many of my pt counterparts propagate the unstable surface/flexibility myth that hinders performance. Sport practice is “sport specific training”. Getting strong is sport non-specific and the best performance enhancer. Great stuff!

    • Nick Buchan

      Mar 31, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks for all your support Kyle. I must admit I have come across many like pts myself. If we keeping pushing the message of solid strength training advice loud enough, and engage golfers and fitness professionals alike, we will end up with a better industry and more importantly better (and happier) clients!

  29. AJ Jensen

    Mar 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Great article. Living in Ohio as I do, I spend a good four to five months indoors whenever it gets cold and I can’t play. When the snow flies I hit the gym to build strength for golf. Golf pushes me to lift more and lift harder… it’s always easier to make gains in the gym when you have a goal in mind, or at least a tangible reason to push yourself. With every weight increase I picture my longest drives, and I imagine them going further.

    The real core reason behind my gym routine is to build explosive strength, so when I’m out there on the tee box or hitting from the fairway I can focus my mind completely on control. The power is always there when I need it, without even ‘trying’ to increase clubhead speed… I know it’s there, because I did my homework over the winter months.

    • Nick Buchan

      Mar 31, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Thanks AJ! Totally agree. Living in an often cold and wet England myself, it’s great to see the hard work of an off-season in the gym come to fruition come the start of the season.

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Instruction

Stickney: The dangers of technology on the lesson tee

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One of the best things about golf instruction is the advent of technology to help teacher to better understand what is really happening during the swing. As we know, the swing takes but a blink of the eye, and it’s hard to see, much less, feel, what is going on when you hit the ball.

Therefore, teachers have employed different technologies in order to help them (and you) understand what is really going on…but the key is still the communication of the data output.

One of my biggest complaints in the industry is the teacher who uses technology and consistently ties their students up in knots mentally. Of course, you can have a simple misunderstanding between the teacher and student from time to time- we all fight this, but I’m talking about the teacher who would make a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering confused leading to paralysis through over-analysis.

In fact, take a look around your club, we all know a guy who has taken lessons and has become so over-consumed with the minutia of their mechanics that they can’t even draw it back! Where did this over-technical approach come from? Usually the teacher they have been working with.

My job is to insulate my players from all the crap that they don’t need to be concerned with while using technology and provide them the simplest way to improve.

Therefore the message from the teacher MUST be tailored to the level of the player and the player’s learning style. As players, we learn either verbally, visually, and/or kinesthetically and the teacher must have a working knowledge of the differences. Using technology makes this easer on the student—you can do it without technology, but it’s much harder.

Golf instruction does NOT have to be complicated when using technology, as many people falsely believe. In fact, the more complex it becomes when using these tools, the LESS proficient the teacher is in his level of understanding of what is truly going on, not to mention his skill in communicating with the student!

As it pertains to golf instructional technology you will find three basic types, and if you’ve taken a lesson lately, you have probably used technology like this….

  • 3-D Motion analysis systems like GEARS gives us the ability to measure and understand everything that happens to your body and club in real-time
  • Launch monitors like Trackman show the interaction between the club and the ball during the impact interval
  • Digital video analysis systems like V1 allow the swing to be viewed at different speeds and compared to your other swing files or even Tour Players

In my opinion, the key to golf instruction at the highest (technological) levels is the ability to combine these systems into a useful conglomeration that defines the student’s problem. From there, the teacher is left to explain the data output in a way (using the proper learning style) that ANY level of golfer can understand.

But that responsibility falls directly on the shoulders of the INSTRUCTOR, not the student. The most successful teachers in the world give the player in front of them exactly what they need in order to improve and nothing more and nothing less. It’s a learned art and skill, one that takes thousands and thousands of lessons to accomplish proficiently.

Therefore if your instructor possesses high tech instructional tools make sure that their communicational skill are as impressive as their technology if not, find someone else or you’ll find yourself in mechanical purgatory!

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Instruction

50 Second Fix: Course management

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Want to fix your tee shots?… Stop falling into old habits, and start standing on the correct side of the tee box!

 

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Instruction

Stickney: How to avoid blowup holes

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Par, par, par, birdie, quad, par, bogey, triple, par. Nice round of 44—with four pars and a birdie! Sound familiar? Do you ever wish you could play without having a blowup hole per nine or how about only one per eighteen holes? Wouldn’t that be nice! Obviously, we are all trying to be more consistent and as we get better the blowup holes subside or reduce themselves in number, but is there anything you can do to avoid or stop them from occurring quicker?

In my almost 30 years as a full-time teacher and watching tens of thousands of players’ swing the club, I have come up with a few of keys that I think will help you eliminate the blowup holes and reduce your handicap once and for all regardless of your current level of play!

So, here are a few of my thoughts that I think will help you…

The Driver

  • As we all know the big miss is a killer, the biggest reason why this happens is usually a severe out-to-in swing path. If you can find a way to keep your swing path closer to your target line, you will see the BIG miss fade away.
  • Snap hooks occur when the face is severely left of the club’s path, and as the loft of the club is reduced, this miss becomes larger and more severe. Audit your grip and your clubface’s position at the top, most of the time I see stronger grip players, flattening their wrists at the top of the backswing placing the club in an overly shut condition that is hard to overcome on the way down.
  • Weak slices are the problem of the new golfer and intermediate player and these occur when the path is left of the intended target and the clubface points right of the target during impact. When the face-to-path relationship is in this condition, the loft of the club tends to increase (when you flip at it) and weak slices are the result. Fix the face-to-path relationship, and you’ll have a chance.

Fairway Woods

  • Don’t automatically reach for your 3-wood every time you are in the fairway on a par 5…unless the lie is perfect, you’re better off using a higher-lofted wood for added height and control.
  • Most golfers try to hit their fairway woods too hard and lose control of their balance making it hard to hit the ball in the center of the clubface. When the ball is impacted low on the face, the effective loft of the club is reduced and fairway woods will launch way too low.

Irons

  • If I had a dollar for every iron set that is misfit as it pertains to shaft flex and lie, I’d be retired by now…if you are trying to score and playing golf with clubs that don’t fit, you have no chance unless you play a flat golf course and have wonderful hand-eye coordination. But beware the radical miss will always be looming.
  • Trying to do too much in the rough—you are not as strong as Brooks, nor do you have the speed of Tiger, so stop trying to use a lower lofted club when you are in the cabbage. Take your licks and chop it out into better position.
  • When you hit it into the trees, find the most direct way out into the easiest and most open position to the green first, then try to reduce the yardage you have into the green second. All too often I see players try to always hit it to the 150 marker when they are in trouble—sometimes 160 is a super easy shot out of the trees while the 150 yardage shot is much harder. Hit the simple shot first!
  • From 100 yards and in, it would help if you focused on hitting the green first and worrying about the pin second. Trying to hit it from 100 into the wind to a tucked pin on a shelf is asking for a short-sided miss and a big number

Wedges

  • Wedges at 100 percent of your full speed are about as accurate as your driver at 100 percent when it pertains to your shot clustering around the pin. Far better to hit shots at 70 percent so you can control the launch, spin, trajectory, and distance rather than try to slamdance your lob-wedge from 120.
  • Wedge lofts are important, and it’s far better to have ones that you know the yardage of rather than a “matched” set. The pro set standard is somewhere around 48, 52, 56, 60 for the wedge lofts…if you can’t hit the numbers you need out of the clubs you have, change the lofts. The lofts don’t matter, it’s all about the numbers you want to hit them! So what if you play 45, 51, 54, 62 if you know exactly how far they go.

Around the Green

  • There are other clubs that can be used around the green besides your lob wedge or your other favorite club.
  • Understand what moving the ball around in your stance does to the ball’s trajectory and landing angle because this controls what the ball will do when it lands on the green. Far too often I see players trying to hit the ball high from a “low shot” set-up and vice versa.
  • Become your own best friend out of the sand or at least be able to get out within 20 feet in one shot!
  • Understand how radically fat, thin, chili-dips, and shanks occur fundamentally so you can get them out of your game before they creep in for too long and become mental.
  • For every single ball you hit on the range, hit five balls around the green in all types of situations to learn what you can and cannot do with each club.

Putting

  • Speed work. Speed work. Speed work. Speed work…there is no excuse for poor speed when you have a putting green at your disposal before the round. Fine-tune your speed with big breaking putts and severe up/downhill putts before you play.
  • The putterface’s direction at impact controls the ball’s starting direction so if you cannot control your lead hand you cannot control your short putts regardless of how easy the putt seems.

As you can see, these thoughts are pretty simple and straightforward, but I promise you the next time you (or I!) make an 8 on a par 4, we have violated about three of the rules I’ve mentioned above. Damn, it’s aggravating, but I promise if you read and reread this list and put it into practice you will reduce your number of funky holes.

NOTE: If you think it’s your course management that is to blame on your poor scores then I would suggest checking out DECADE Golf created by Scott Fawcett. It is the best course management system out on the market today. You will be amazed at how understanding your miss patterns from certain distances coupled with his aiming techniques could make the game so simple!

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