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The 4 most important factors in golf fitness

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This article is co-written with Jenna Peanasky, Strength and Conditioning Coach at Iowa State University. Jenna has been working with the Cyclones mens and womens golf teams for the past 4 seasons.

One of the best things about being a support staff member with golf is that the sport has embraced the holistic approach of training and sees that to improve your golf game means taking care of your body. Staying healthy is crucial, and staying on top of your physical training by addressing weaknesses and improving upon strengths is key to a long successful career throughout college and beyond. Gone are the days when the strength coach simply writes a program that everyone blindly follows, now programs are individualised to fit the exact needs of the sport and the athlete.

The physical attributes required to play good golf are widely debated, and rightly so when such a vast array of body types have been successful in the sport over the years. Outlined below are what we as trainers working with elite (PGA Tour) and sub-elite (college) golfing athletes, consider to be most important factors in training college golfers:

Posture

Posture is such a significant piece in the golf swing from start to finish, which is why it is such an important aspect in our training. In all aspects of our training we focus on having awareness of where our body is in space and making sure our athletes are able to maintain posture throughout their movements without unnecessary compensations. A key contributor to that approach in the past couple of years has been introducing the GravityFit equipment to our gym and pre golf warm ups. It’s specifically designed to bring awareness to posture and train endurance in the muscles responsible for holding us in good form.

Using the GravityFit TPro to train golf set up and movement patterns

Common postural tendencies for golfers are to go into an excessively rounded set up position, known as C-posture; or to have an exaggerated arch in the low back, known as S-posture. I have found that if a golfer carries these tendencies in their golf setup, they also appear in the gym. We aim to be right in between these postures and maintain a neutral spinal curve. One area of posture that sometimes gets overlooked is head position. All of the time a college golfer spends studying, reading, or sitting on their phone promotes a forward carry of the head, so when in the gym we aim to avoid this at all times and bring awareness to an upright tall posture through the head and neck.

Movement Efficiency & Mobility

Before adding weight to exercises, we make sure the athlete has solid technique whilst performing a wide variety of gym movements. We can start by asking, “Does the athlete have the ability to squat, hinge, lunge, push and pull correctly?” Starting at the feet, we look for a stable base and a strong connection with the ground during movement. Can the athlete maintain a strong connection or is there instability? Everything we do starts from the feet, therefore instability here may cause issues up the chain. Next we move to the hips, does the athlete have the ability to hinge and maintain their posture effectively? Can they create separation between their lower body and upper body? The ability to hinge and disassociate the upper and lower body are key elements in the golf swing so it is important that our athletes have the awareness and ability to perform these movements in the gym extremely well.

Post session mobility work is a non-negotiable!

Movement efficiency and mobility go hand in hand. Knowing the difference between an athlete having a restriction due to a lack of mobility, or if the inability to perform a movement comes from a lack of skill and/or understanding is important. We strive to look at the body holistically and evaluate movement at the ankle, hip, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, and shoulders. Using a collaborative approach with coaches, athletic training staff, physical therapists, and massage therapists allows us to all have a better understanding of each athlete and their individual needs. Communicating with the entire staff allows us to make sure that we are all on the same page to help our athletes improve as a whole.

Jeremiah Hales has provided an invaluable service as a consulting physical therapist to the Iowa State golf programs. Jeremiah conducts his custom design golf specific physical assessments on the players twice a year. These screenings provide very in-depth and specific information about the player’s stability, posture, mobility and movement efficiency. That information is like gold for the coaching and fitness staff, it helps us prioritise gym workouts, technical training and practice set up for the player. Jeremiah is also a fan of the GravityFit equipment and uses it his assessments and also in the prescription of individualised exercise programs for the players. Click here for his explanation of how and why he uses the equipment with Cordie Walker from Golf Science Lab

Hinging effectively whilst maintaining posture

Core Stability & Glute Strength

Back injuries are one of the most common issues among golfers. Our goal is to address this from the start by making sure we have stability through the entire core. Golf is a very rotational sport, so our core work focuses predominantly on anti-extension, anti-flexion and anti-rotation. At specific times of year we may incorporate some rotational work, but since these athletes are getting this every day at practice, we benefit more from strengthening the core through stability and creating a rock solid pillar.

The ability to properly activate the glutes is also extremely important. Proper glute firing ensures that the body reduces compensation and minimizes stress on the back. I have seen athletes present with glutes that do not activate well, yet they appear extremely strong through their gym movements. These athletes are compensating and not performing these movements optimally for sport. Once we address these compensations and the athlete learns to properly activate their glutes, they are much stronger than before and put themselves in a better position to avoid injury.

Strength & Power

Golfers must create, transfer and absorb their own force, which can put a lot of stress on the body. Developing strength is like putting on the armour to help protect the body against injury. Moving in all planes of movement and focusing on developing a strong posterior chain is very important. A well rounded program includes a wide variety of movements, including squats, hinges, single leg movements, pushes, pulls, carries, and core exercises. Varying these and incorporating them throughout the year at different intensities and volumes have given us exceptional results in keeping our athletes strong, powerful, and healthy.

Having a strong foundation of strength is the key to developing power. Once a base of strength has been set we work to translate this into power in different planes of movement by increasing the rate of force production. We do this by using various approaches including jumps, medicine ball throw variations, and using accommodating resistance such as chains and bands (see Cam Smith example below). Just like the varying types of movements we use for strength work, we vary our methods based on the time of year and individual needs of each player.

Approach to training

Having a collaborative approach with all members of the staff allows us to look at each athlete from various perspectives to ensure we aren’t missing anything. We have the coach explaining what they are working on in their swing, we have the athletic trainer and physical therapist performing evaluations and prescribing individualized exercises to improve weaknesses. We also have a massage therapist who sees the players regularly to address any soft tissue issues or restrictions. Then there is the strength coach who will write a training program that will help each student-athlete become the best version of themselves through improving in the key areas detailed above.

By working with every member of the staff and taking a holistic and collaborative approach we can all work together and share information to create a better program and plan for each student-athlete.

Click here for more information on the featured GravityFit Equipment

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter, Rehab Expert and Massage Therapist contracted by PGA Tour Players. Nick is also a GravityFit Brand Ambassador. He is working with them to help spread their innovative message throughout the golf world and into other sports.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. harry

    Dec 6, 2018 at 12:52 am

    “….golf fitness…”…. sounds like an oxymoron when applied to 95% of all golfers worldwide… lol

  2. Dr. Ozy

    Dec 5, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Most men who attempt to play golf have bloated pot bellies and seem to think that a new set of clubs or a magical tip will make them into “golfers”. If your belly is pregnant with fat the most athletic thing you can do is to reduce weight, not attempt to swing a golf club.

  3. coastieyaker

    Dec 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    this type of article is getting really old, really fast.
    How many more articles are going to be written, only for the reader to discover it is merely click bait for some ill-conceived training product?

    This article was wasteful and provided this reader nothing of substance.

  4. Bofhus

    Dec 5, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Oh no, another video of quarter squats being used to demonstrate “fitness”

    • sebas

      Dec 6, 2018 at 8:22 am

      I noticed that as well. Why not full depth??

  5. Under the roof

    Dec 5, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Nick,
    Congrats on the program, in my opinion you’re definitely headed down the right path. You might add a bosu ball to the “core and glute strength” exercises. By standing, on an unstable bosu ball (one foot), and performing the various strength and rotational exercises with bands, weights or just body weight, you will intensify the movements.
    One other aspect of the training you might add into the routine is a vinyasa yoga class. Strength, flexibility, balance and a few minutes to clear the mind of all the garbage, is great for golf.

  6. ogo

    Dec 5, 2018 at 12:21 am

    Golden information for gearheads who love their clubs and ignore their pathetic bodies.

  7. TLW

    Dec 4, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    The majority of people would benefit much more by following a simple workout program like the 5×5 or anything they can stick with. That information is free, btw.

  8. the dude

    Dec 4, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    nice ad for gravity fit……ha!

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Greg Norman: “If I had to do it all over again, I would go to one-length clubs”

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Greg Norman has never been a man to shy away from speaking his mind, and during Saturday’s Golf Channel broadcast of the QBE Shootout, the Australian declared that if he had the opportunity to begin his career again, he would do so with single-length irons.

Norman stressed how his experience while experimenting with Cobra King One Length irons led him to conclude that single-length irons are more beneficial than standard irons because “your spine angle stays the same” no matter what club you are using.

“Believe it or not, if I had to do it all over again as a 13 or 14-year-old, I would go to one-length clubs,” Norman said. “I actually had a set made for me when [Bryson DeChambeau] first came and joined, and I got it straight off the bat. When you think about it, my 4-iron and my 8-iron are the same length, but my ball flight was so good on all of them because your spine angle stays the same.”

The Australian went on to say that anyone looking to introduce their kid to the game of golf, should give them single-length irons to optimize their chances of success.

“I think parents now, for longevity, golf is a sport you can play your entire life, so if you look at that motion that [DeChambeau is] going through there, it’s such an effortless motion. He’s stacked up beautifully. At the end of the day, the motion is so simple through there. So the one-length golf club, in my humble opinion, give a kid at six, seven, eight…get him used to it and he’ll do well.”

Norman won 88 times in his career, including 20 wins on the PGA Tour and two major championship victories. Could the Shark have achieved even more if he had have used single-length irons during his career instead of standard irons?

Let us know what you think, GolfWRXers!

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Web.com Tour hopeful suffers heartbreaking finish to miss out on Tour status by one stroke

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With the careers of many players hanging in the balance at Web.com Tour Q-School, the agony of those who miss out matches the ecstasy of the few that make their way through the brutal process.

On Sunday, there was one particular man who suffered the agony of missing out more than others.

Patrick Sullivan was inside the top-40 and heading for his status on the Web.com Tour for 2019 before it all went wrong. Playing the back nine of Sunday’s final round, the 35-year old faced a birdie attempt on the 14th green but struck his ball off the green and into the water. Sullivan ended up making a costly double bogey on the hole and followed the error with another bogey on the 15th hole.

To his eternal credit, Sullivan showed incredible resolve. Needing to play his final three holes in four-under par, Sullivan managed to make a birdie and an eagle before heading to the final hole.

A three on 18 was a must, and Sullivan faced a nerve-jangling four-footer to claim his Web.com Tour status for next season. The putt, however, slid by, leaving him one shot outside of the magic number.

Golf can be a cruel sport at times.

Sullivan does, however, have conditional status for next year, meaning he will have the opportunity of playing events through Monday qualifiers.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Louis king again | Q-School craziness

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

December 10, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. King again!
Louis Oosthuizen captured his home country’s open for his first win in three years.
  • Ryan Herrington writes…”Louis Oosthuizen was already the winner of a historic Open title, but on Sunday he claimed arguably a more meaningful one to the 36-year-old. With a closing 67 at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg, Oosthuizen posted a runaway six-stroke victory over France’s Romain Langasque at the South African Open, his home country’s oldest tournament.”
  • “I wish the family was here,” said a tearful Oosthuizen, ending a nearly three-year winless drought. “The crowd was great this whole week, it was nice to do it for them.”
  • “It was Oosthuizen’s eighth career European Tour triumph, four of which have come in events in South Africa. But this was the first time he’s won his country’s Open after playing in the event for the first time since a third-place finish in 2010.”
2. St. Simons boys triumph
Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman, both residents of St. Simons Island, joined forces to win the QBE Shootout.
  • PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit …”We’re normally trying to get into each other’s heads,” Kizzire said after the St. Simons Island, Georgia duo shot a best-ball, final-round 61 in blustery weather to reach 30-under and win the unofficial QBE at Tiburón Golf Club. “And this week he was nice to me, which was kind of weird.”
  • Added Harman: “I was hoping I wasn’t going to throw him for a loop.”
  • “For the second straight year Graeme McDowell finished second, this time with a new partner, Emiliano Grillo. They made par on 18 to finish 29-under, one back.”
  • “Three teams shared third, two back: Charles Howell III and Luke List, who was 9-under on his own ball over the last nine holes as they shot 61; Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau (62); and Charley Hoffman and Gary Woodland (63), their highlight coming when Woodland aced the 202-yard 5th hole.”
3. A horrific stolen clubs story…with a happy ending
From our Gianni Magliocco…:”Web.com Tour Q-School is well known for being a gruelling process, and while 49 players graduated over the weekend, one man was forced to go to hell and back to do so.”
  • “Cody Blick sat three shots outside of the desired Top-40 heading into Sunday’s final round, and on waking up that morning to prepare for the biggest round of his life, the 25-year-old realized that his clubs had been stolen.”
  • “Blick took to social media immediately, desperately hoping that anyone could help him, offering $5k no questions asked should his clubs be returned.”
  • “Blick was unable to recover his clubs though, meaning he was forced to put together a mishmash of different clubs before Sunday’s final round. According to the Mackenzie Tour Twitter account, they consisted of the “Superintendent’s driver, pro shop’s wedges, random irons and a heavier than usual putter.”
  • “After all of that, Blick pulled off a miracle. The American fired a sensational round of nine-under par 63, which included birdies at his final three holes, to take him into the coveted Top-40.”
4. Walker: Q-School Medalist
PGATour.com Staff report...”With a tight leaderboard down the stretch at Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, University of Virginia alum Danny Walker emerged from the pack to birdie his final three holes and claim medalist honors at 27-under at Whirlwind Golf Club. Coming from the fourth-to-last group, Walker posted an early 9-under 63 before waiting for his fate as the final groups finished. With the victory, Walker earns fully-exempt status on the Web.com Tour in 2019.”
  • “Players who finished top-40 (and ties) earned guaranteed starts next year. This year, the cutoff came at 18-under 270 with 49 players earning guaranteed starts.”
  • “I’m super excited right now – my goal was to come top-10 this week, so I wasn’t really thinking about winning,” Walker said. “But I’m excited about it now obviously and relieved to have the week done, it’s a stressful week for everybody so it feels good to play well.”
5. The Shark wishes he went single length!  
Here’s an interesting note (or maybe just a Cobra staffer hyping a product his sponsor has cornered the market on among major OEMs).
  • Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”The equipment issue came up on air Saturday afternoon while Norman was watching Bryson DeChambeau. The 25-year-old has already picked up five PGA Tour wins using Cobra King One Length irons, and Norman said he wishes he could have put them in play when he first started out as an amateur.”
  • “Believe it or not, if I had to do it all over again as a 13 or 14-year-old, I would go to one-length clubs,” Norman said. “I actually had a set made for me when (DeChambeau) first came and joined Cobra Puma and I got it straight off the bat. When you think about it, my 4-iron and my 8-iron are the same length, but my ball flight was so good on all of them because your spine angle stays the same.”
  • “I truly do believe that,” Norman said. “I think parents now, for longevity, golf is a sport you can play your entire life, so if you look at that motion that (DeChambeau’s) going through there it’s such an effortless motion. He’s stacked up beautifully. At the end of the day, the motion is so simple through there. So the one-length golf club, in my humble opinion, give a kid at six, seven, eight … get him used to it and he’ll do well.”
6. Steph’s tourney to Lake Merced
Golf Channel’s Will Gray...”A new PGA Tour event in the Bay Area hosted by NBA superstar Steph Curry is now expected to debut next fall at Lake Merced Golf Club.”
  • “According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, the club’s membership voted “overwhelmingly” to approve an estimated $3.6 million in renovations that are viewed as a “prerequisite to holding the tournament.” The planned changes will reportedly be overseen by Rees Jones and could stretch the Daly City, Calfornia, course beyond 7300 yards.”
  • “Lake Merced has hosted an LPGA event four of the past five years, with Lydia Ko winning three times. It is slated to host the LPGA’s MediHeal Championship from May 2-5 next year. The Curry-hosted event is expected to take place in September as part of the fall portion of the 2019-20 season and likely close to the Safeway Open, which is annually played in Napa.”
7. LET in Limbo
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”The 2019 LET Qualifying School is scheduled Dec. 16-20 in Morocco. Once again, those players who earn one of the 25 cards have no idea how many tournaments they will play next year. The LET has yet to publish its 2019 schedule.
  • It cost $1,450 to enter this year’s Q-School. Imagine getting your dream job and having no idea where, when and if you’ll be working?”
  • “There were just 15 events on this year’s LET schedule. Two of those – the $3.25 million Ricoh Women’s British Open and $3.85 million Evian Championship – were majors and basically out of reach for most Q-School grads. The $1.5 million Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open is essentially an LPGA event and also is off-limits to most Q-School grads. In other words, those who earned cards were playing in low-purse events.”
  • “By low purses we’re talking between a low of $140,000 for the Jabra Ladies Open to $500,000 for the Hero Women’s Indian Open. The first four events on this year’s schedule were co-sanctioned with the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour. Two of those were worth just over $100,000. You don’t have to be a math genius to work out that traveling to, and accommodation in, Australia isn’t cheap. Even a top-10 finish in those events could leave players taking a loss on the week.”
8. Pining for the Q-School of yore?
According to the Forecaddie, some Tour vets are feeling a bit of nostalgia.
  • “For almost 50 years, the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament was the coliseum for Sansabelt soldiers, where battle-scarred veterans and fresh-faced rookies fought it out over six days to earn their stripes. For every career launched at Q-School, many others crashed to earth. Stories from that make-or-break week are plentiful and almost always painful. Like Steve Haskins, a journeyman who entered the arena 14 times but never made it out with a Tour card.”
  • “Even those who survived the gauntlet have scar tissue. It’s been 35 years since Brad Faxon’s only trip to Q-School, but he can recall it with forensic detail still. Fall 1983, TPC Sawgrass, 108 holes with a cut after 72.”
  • “I shot 71 in the fourth round to move way up,” Faxon said. “Then rain and lightning came and they cancelled everybody’s scores. Next day I shot 76 and went from the top 10 to, like, 50th place.” He narrowly made the cut and secured a card that he kept for almost three decades.
9. Q-School heartbreak
Move over, Cody Blick…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Sullivan, a 35-year-old journeyman who missed 20 of 23 cuts on the Web.com Tour last season, looked to be in fine standing to retain Web status for 2019, in 23rd place heading into the final round of Q-School at Whirlwind G.C. in Chandler, Ariz. Unfortunately for Sullivan, on a day when the field went low, he hovered around par for 13 holes, and then had the bad fortune of finding the water on the 14th hole.”
  • Sullivan tweeted…”We’ve heard all the QSchool horror stories over the years. I was wondering if anyone had ever putted it into the water on the back nine to miss by one? If not…..dibs.”
  • “Sullivan ultimately made a double, and followed with a bogey on the 15th. And while he did mount a commendable charge, answering with a birdie on the 16th and eagle on the 17th, Sullivan missed a four-footer on the final hole.”

 

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