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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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Rating the Zurich Classic walk-up songs

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On Saturday at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, for the second year, teammates are choosing walk-up songs for their first tee ball.

There is some good, some bad, and some painfully predictable. The teams are dynamic enough, but seeing their song selection really brings a new level of personal insight. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the hits.

The Good

Steve Stricker/Jerry Kelly: As Good as I Once Was – Toby Keith

This is, perfect. All I see is an Italian chef kissing their hands to this selection, sheer perfection. Self deprecation, confidence and an overall great song. I have to imagine Jerry Kelly came up with this and Stricker tried to argue he’s still in his prime.

Tommy Fleetwood/Sergio Garcia: Radio Gaga – Queen

Queen, so hot right now. Winner of nearly every Oscar, these Ryder Cup teammates kept it current with Queen while selecting a deeper cut. Somewhere, Francesco Molinari is looking at Instagram posts of this pairing and wondering what went wrong.

The Local:

Stephen Jaeger/J.T. Poston: Callin’ Baton Bouge – Garth Brooks

Roberto Castro/Cameron Tringale – Born on the Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival

As long as nobody googled, “songs about New Orleans” prior to selection, these are fair game and a sure fan favorite on number one.  What are the real chances any of these guys have ever heard these songs prior to Saturday? 10%? I have to assume smooth, hotel elevator jazz not available?

Bubba Watson/JB Holes – When the Saints Go Marching In – Louis Armstrong

Now we’re talking. This is my favorite of the locals group. Perfectly awkward yet funny Bubba. Can’t you just picture Bubba dancing like the WB frog with a top hat on while teeing up? “You’re welcome.”

The On-Brand

Henrik Stenson/Graeme McDowell: Wake Me Up – Avicii

Swedish, check. Banger, check. Sentimental value, check (Avicii passed tragically just over a year ago). Potential to turn the bleachers into a full rave, check. My money is on the rhythmic three-wood of Henrik Stenson all weekend and my personal favorite song of the lot.

Brooks Koepka/Chase Koepka: Bad Boys for Life – P. Diddy

This is somehow hilarious and terrifying at the exact same time. Something about brotherhood makes this song hit even more. If Brooks and Chase are not wearing black sunglasses strutting to the tee in Nike schmediums, just call the whole thing off. (Would have liked to see Brooks choose “Centerfield” by John Fogerty, because you know, he really likes baseball better).

Adam Scott/Jason Day: Suicide Blonde – INXS

The Aussies stick together, and stick with their bands. That is truly all I know about this song so I’ll move on.

Padraig Harrington/Shane Lowry: I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphy’s

Not sure if this leads to good golf or a good round of irish car bomb’s, or just one followed by the other. Either way, a near certainty that this is the first time this song was selected by a sober person, for a sober group.

The Bizzare

Carlos Ortiz/Sebastian Munoz: Ground Theme – Super Mario Bros.

While this should be funny, I can’t help but assume they couldn’t think of any good songs, or have vastly different tastes in music. Great in theory but imagine following Bad Boys for Life with Mario sound effects., and then being outdriven by 30 yards.

The Hazards to Spectators

John Rahm/Ryan Palmer: Enter Sandman – Metallica

Exactly what John Rahm needs on the first tee. Metallica.

The Biased

Kenny Perry/Josh Teater – Renegade – Styx

As a die-hard Steelers fan, I’m unfit to judge this. (The Steelers play Renegade as a pump-up in the fourth quarter and it works against players not named Tom Brady). With that being said, if Kenny Perry is able to time up contact with the hard-hitting drums in this song, he might blast it a country mile.

The Off the Grid

Pat Perez/Jason Dufner: Bazanji – 2019

I had very high expectations for these two. Personality for days. I could see Perez with an entire room for his music collection, and Jordan’s. To be transparent, I had to google the song. It is however, as expected, a jam. Only these two could be cooler than the entire song selection process.

The Just Why

Baby Shark – Pinkfong
Joel Dahmen/Brandon Harkins
Michael Kim/C.T. Pan

I’m not going to even research it, but there’s simply no way any of these four have children. If they did, the last thing they want reminded of on the first tee is their one-year-old crying at 5:00 a.m. for Baby Shark (do doo do do do do). However, LET’S GO HUNT, is a great mindset for golf. So there’s that.

The Eye on the Prize

Andrew Putnam/Max Homa – Trophies – Drake

Speaking of a good mentality… This crew chose an underrated Drake song with a perfect vibe and first note. Homa might be the funniest and best golf follow on Twitter, and even he went for swagger over humor. When your song is literally called trophies, your odds have to improve slightly.

The Basic

Old Town Road – Lil Nas X
Troy Merrit/Robert Streb
Harold Varner III/Tom Lovelady
Colt Knost/Boo Weekly
Adam Schenk/Tyler Duncan

Hate to see it. Each one of these teams even thought for a moment, this will be great, it’s viral and ironic. Just hate to see it.

For the record, if I was any good at golf and had a partner who obliged, I’d select Mac Miller’s The Spins, because Mac is the best and the first verse is as good as Hip Hop gets.

You can take a look at the full list for yourself here 

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Wednesday’s photos from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational

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GolfWRX is live from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National Golf Club, which will be contested April 26-28. Past winners of the amateur event include Justin Thomas and Emiliano Grillo.

Denny Glass, chairman of the Terra Cotta Invitational, was kind enough to give us a little more information about the tournament.

For GolfWRX members who aren’t familiar, tell me a little bit about the tournament and its history

Glass: The Terra Cotta Invitational began in 1996 and was originally a combination stroke play/match play event. 20 players were invited and they played 36 holes of stroke play then the top four finishers went on to match play with the others playing an 18 hole consolation match.

I changed it to a 54-hole stroke play event with 50 players in 2006 when I took over as Tournament Chair. This was done to be eligible for Titleist/Golfweek Amateur Ranking Points. The field increased over the years and now has 75-81 players. The tournament is now ranked as a “B” level event in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings) run by the USGA and R&A. This ranking is one level below the top-ranked events in the world. The WAGR rankings are based on the strength of the field so we are proud to be ranked so highly.

As it’s an invitational tournament, can you tell me a bit about who gets invited in general and who’s in the field this year, specifically? Tournament format?

Glass: It is an invitational so we invite as many of the top-ranked amateur players as are available. The field consists of many juniors (up to age 18), mid-amateurs (19-25) and some seniors (50+), along with collegiate players. While it is an invitational, we still receive more than 150 applications to play.

Can you talk about the host course and the relationship with Naples National?

The tournament is played at Naples National Golf Club. The tournament was started by the membership back in 1996. The club opened in 1993. The club hosted the World Championship of Golf, which was an LPGA event in its second year.

I know the charitable impact is important. Can you tell us about that?

The net proceeds are donated to Naples based children’s focused charities. The tournament has donated over $517,000 since it began.

Wednesday’s photos

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Winner of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge to receive a 1973 Dodge Challenger Restomod

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Under new sponsorship, the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge which takes place at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, will have a special prize on offer for its champion – a fully restored and customized 1973 Dodge Challenger.

The vehicle pays homage to the year which Schwab Corporation was founded and is equipped with tartan fabric seats and custom glacier blue paint. The car will serve as a complement to the Leonard Trophy and tartan jacket awarded each year at the tournament.

Charles Schwab worked in collaboration with Steve Strope of Pure Vision on the restoration process, and the car will be on display at Colonial throughout the tournament until it is presented to the winner on May 26.

The tournament runs from May 23-26. In 2018, Justin Rose won the event by three strokes.

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