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Core Training: Are We Missing Something Here?



The majority of core work is performed either horizontally (prone and supine), sitting or kneeling. After speaking with some people much smarter than me, namely Mark Bull (UK based Bio Mechanist), I have been wondering whether we are missing a key opportunity to get some really important work done by not performing more core exercises in a standing position.

I mentioned in a previous GolfWRX article that I think we in the golf fitness world should resist the temptation of grabbing the low-hanging fruit of loaded rotational training before taking care of the fundamentals of quality movement and strength in the sagittal and frontal planes (front to back and side to side). So I’m not advocating throwing out the fundamental exercises that make up a solid training program, more so, I’m searching for opportunities in the supplementary exercises where we can train the core in a manner that has more effective transfer to our golf swing.

After reading an article by Mark Bull, and being very fortunate to be able to catch up in person for a chat, he got me thinking about the way I program core training especially. In the article, Bull talked about some analysis work he did on a long-drive champion that caused him to question to the X-Factor Stretch Theory of hitting the long ball. 

“The interaction between the pelvis and thorax has been researched for years, and for many, it is seen as having a significant influence on driving distance,” Bull said. “However, on recently testing a world long drive champion, the values he returned started to question my own understanding and value of this interaction. For years, we have been led to believe that high levels of stretch at the start of downswing between the pelvis/thorax is required to help generate maximum club head speed. However, the long-drive champion failed to produce more than 1 degree for any shot during the test. However, what was of great interest was the levels of separation/stretch achieved across other segments. Let’s define separation/stretch as elastic recoil; the levels of elastic recoil that he produced across the lead scapula/shoulder/ribcage were staggeringly high. The amount of stretch, the speed of the stretch and the rate of recoil were huge. Therefore, perhaps the interaction between thorax and arm is of more value than pelvis/thorax?”

Lead Arm Stretch

“Typically, long hitters exhibit a reduction in the angle between the lead arm and thorax (ribcage) in transition towards impact” Bull said. 

This is a really interesting thought, and it contradicts the traditional wisdom that more X Factor Stretch equals more club head speed. In fact, Bull had previously tested another elite player who had the one of the largest X-Factor Stretches of anyone he had seen, yet one of the lowest club head speeds. Given his findings, Bull suggested that training could be adapted to include more focus on elastic recoil for the whole body, as opposed to focusing solely on the the pelvis and thorax.

As is my tendency when listening to very bright people, I took this info and sought to simplify it down to my level of understanding, then apply to a relevant practical setting (the gym). I started to experiment with a Stroops Shorty Stick and a resistance band tied to one end, in my opinion this gives you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of stability challenge. Whilst not quite as effective, you can use any kind of stretchy band or cable machines with a handle.

Stick Core - Equip

Stroops Shorty Stick with resistance band attached

I am going to show you a selection of the exercises that I have been using that I feel tick the boxes of quality connection to the ground, pelvic stability, spinal stability and scapula stability under rotational load to work on this “all-body elastic recoil” that Bull was talking about. Importantly, I feel that these exercises give an appropriate swing-specific stimulus, while avoiding the potential detrimental impact on sequencing/motor patterns that can occur by simply loading an imitated golf swing.

My advice is to try including these exercises at the end of your workout, after you have completed your strength work, in place of your usual core work. This will ensure you are both warmed up and not at risk of tiring out your core before doing exercises that require you to use your core to perform the movement safely (back squats, for example).

As always, gain consent from your relevant medical professional first and be careful to start with a light resistance band or cable load and work your way up gradually. Two-to-three sets of 6-8 repetitions on each side using a slow tempo is ideal to start. Work up to faster speeds and heavier loads once confident with the technique. You should feel these exercises working predominantly your glutes/hip complex, core and shoulders/arms, as well as challenging your ability to maintain solid connection with the ground. If you are feeling more strain in your lower back and less in the targeted areas stop immediately and seek out the advice of a good fitness professional.

Stick/Band Press: Neutral Stance

Stick 5

Positioning: Upright stance, core and glutes engaged.

Form: Press stick out in front of body, fight the resistance pulling you to the left. Keep scapulae (shoulder blades) and shoulders as stable as possible. Hold for 2 seconds, return to start position and repeat. Perform equal reps on both sides.

Stick/Band Pallof Press

Stick 4

Positioning: Upright split stance, core and glutes engaged, facing at 90 degrees to band/cable anchor point.

Form: Press the stick/band out in front of the chest, fight the resistance pulling you to the left. Keep scapulae, shoulders and torso as stable as possible. Hold for 2 seconds, return to start position and repeat. Perform equal reps on both sides.

Stick/Band Turn: Split Stance

stick 2

Positioning: Upright split stance, core and glutes engaged, torso rotated 90 degrees to band/cable anchor point.

Form: Rotate to right until chest and shoulders are facing forward, fight the resistance pulling you to the left. Keep scapulae and shoulders as stable as possible. Hold for 2 seconds, return to start position and repeat. Perform equal reps on both sides.

Stick/Band Turn: 90-90 Stance (less strain on back, more opportunity to turn through hips)

Stick 1

Positioning: Upright 90-90 stance (open hips, feet pointing at 90 degrees), core and glutes engaged, torso rotated 90 degrees to band/cable anchor point.

Form: Rotate to right until chest and shoulders are facing the same direction as lead foot, fight the resistance pulling you to the left. Keep scapulae and shoulders as stable as possible. Hold for 2 seconds, return to start position and repeat. Perform equal reps on both sides.

Stick / Cable Pull Across

Stick 8

Positioning: Upright stance, side on to anchor point. Lead arm pulled across torso.

Form: Rotate torso and pull arm to the left, away from anchor point. Keep scapula as stable as possible, return to start position and repeat. Perform equal reps on both sides.

For more information on Mark Bull and his services click here. For more on Nick Randall and his range of golf specific training programs and equipment click here

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter and Rehab Expert contracted by PGA Tour Players, Division 1 colleges and national teams to deliver golf fitness services. Via his Golf Fit Pro website, app, articles and online training services, Nick offers the opportunity to the golfing world to access his unique knowledge and service offerings.



  1. Al Czervik

    Jun 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    This is one of the best articles I have read on the subject. Thanks for taking the time to share. It would be nice to see what recommendations you would make for the strength training portion of the workout.

    • Nick Randall

      Jun 7, 2016 at 5:35 am

      Hi Al,

      Sorry for the delayed response. Strength work is focused on stability first, then basic strength, then max strength, then power. Variations of squat, lunge, push and pull make up the majority of the exercise selection.

      Hope this helps Al

  2. Mark Odenthal

    May 31, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Love this!

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The Wedge Guy: Short game tempo



One of my favorite things to do is observe golfers closely, watching how they go about things from well before the shot to the execution of the swing or stroke. Guess the golf course has become kind of like going to the lab, in a way.

One thing I notice much too often is how “quick” most golfers are around the greens. It starts with grabbing a club or two from the cart and quickly getting to their ball. Then a few short jabs at a practice swing and usually a less-than-stellar result at a recovery.


If you are going to spend a morning or afternoon on the course, why hurry around the greens? I tend to be a fast player and despise five-hour rounds, but don’t fault anyone for taking a few seconds extra to get “right” with their recovery shot. You can still play “ready golf” and not short yourself in the close attention to execution. But let me get back to the specific topic.

Maybe it’s aggravated by this rush, but most golfers I observe have a short game tempo that is too quick. Chips, pitches and recoveries are precision swings at less than full power, so they require a tempo that is slower than you might think to accommodate that precision. They are outside the “norm” of a golf swing, so give yourself several practice swings to get a feel for the tempo and power that needs to be applied to the shot at hand.

I also think this quick tempo is a result of the old adage “accelerate through the ball.” We’ve all had that pounded into our brains since we started playing, but my contention is that it is darn hard not to accelerate . . . it’s a natural order of the swing. But to mentally focus on that idea tends to produce a short, choppy swing, with no rhythm or precision. So, here’s a practice drill for you.

  1. Go to your practice range, the local ball field, schoolyard or anywhere you can safely hit golf balls 20-30 yards or less.
  2. Pick a target only 30-50 feet away and hit your normal pitch, observing the trajectory.
  3. Then try to hit each successive ball no further, but using a longer, more flowing, fluid swing motion than the one before. That means you’ll make the downswing slower and slower each time, as you are moving the club further and further back each time.

My bet is that somewhere in there you will find a swing length and tempo where that short pitch shot becomes much easier to hit, with better loft and spin, than your normal method.

The key to this is to move the club with the back and through rotation of your body core, not just your arms and hands. This allows you to control tempo and applied power with the big muscles, for more consistency.

Try this and share with all of us if it doesn’t open your eyes to a different way of short game success.

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The Wedge Guy: The core cause of bad shots



You are cruising through a round of golf, hitting it pretty good and then you somehow just hit an absolutely terrible shot? This isn’t a problem unique to recreational golfers trying to break 80, 90, or 100 — even the best tour professionals occasionally hit a shot that is just amazingly horrible, given their advanced skill levels.

It happens to all of us — some more frequently than others — but I’m convinced the cause is the same. I call it “getting sloppy.”

So, what do I mean by that?

Well, there was a USGA advertising campaign a while back feature Arnold Palmer, with the slogan “Swing Your Swing.” There’s a lot of truth to that advice, as we all have a swing that has — either frequently or occasionally – produced outstanding golf shots. While there is no substitute for solid mechanics and technique, I’ve always believed that if you have ever hit a truly nice golf shot, then your swing has the capacity to repeat that result more frequently than you experience.

The big question is: “Why can’t I do that more often?”

And the answer is: Because you don’t approach every shot with the same care and caution that you exhibit when your best shots are executed.

To strike a golf ball perfectly, the moon and stars have to be aligned, regardless of what your swing looks like. Your set-up position must be right. Your posture and alignment have to be spot-on. Ball position has to be precisely perfect. To get those things correct takes focused attention to each detail. But the good news is that doing so only takes a few seconds of your time before each shot.

But I know from my own experience, the big “disrupter” is not having your mind right before you begin your swing. And that affects all of these pre-shot fundamentals as well as the physical execution of your swing.
Did you begin your pre-shot approach with a vivid picture of the shot you are trying to hit? Is your mind cleared from what might have happened on the last shot or the last hole? Are you free from the stress of this crazy game, where previous bad shots cause us to tighten up and not have our mind free and ready for the next shot? All those things affect your ability to get things right before you start your swing . . . and get in the way of “swinging your swing.”

So, now that I’ve outlined the problem, what’s the solution?

Let me offer you some ideas that you might incorporate into your own routine for every shot, so that you can get more positive results from whatever golf swing skills you might have.

Clear your mind. Whatever has happened in the round of golf to this point is history. Forget it. This next shot is all that matters. So, clear that history of prior shots and sharpen your focus to the shot at hand.

Be precise in your fundamentals. Set-up, posture, alignment and ball position are crucial to delivering your best swing. Pay special attention to all of these basics for EVERY shot you hit, from drives to putts.

Take Dead Aim. That was maybe the most repeated and sage advice from Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book”. And it may be the most valuable advice ever. Poor alignment and aim sets the stage for bad shots, as “your swing” cannot be executed if you are pointed incorrectly.

See it, feel it, trust it. Another piece of great advice from the book and movie, “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days In Utopia”, by Dr. David Cook. Your body has to have a clear picture of the shot you want to execute in order to produce the sequence of movements to do that.

Check your grip pressure and GO. The stress of golf too often causes us to grip the club too tightly. And that is a swing killer. Right before you begin your swing, focus your mind on your grip pressure to make sure it isn’t tighter than your normal pressure.

It’s highly advisable to make these five steps central to your pre-shot routine, but especially so if you get into a bad stretch of shots. You can change things when that happens, but it just takes a little work to get back to the basics.

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Stickney: To stack or not to stack at impact?



As you look at the impact positions of the best players in the world, you will find many different “looks” with respect to their body and club positions. Some of these impact positions might even appear unique, but don’t be fooled. They all have one thing in common: preserving the players’ balance throughout the impact interval! In fact, if you are not in-balance, then you will lose power, consistency, and have trouble controlling your launch dynamics from shot to shot.

This balance is a necessary key to playing well and one area that can be easily understood with a few graphics shown on GEARS 3D. As you examine the photo in the featured image, you can see a few things:

  • The player on the left has “fallen” backwards through impact slightly moving his head out of the circle established at address
  • The player on the right is more stacked at impact — meaning that his chest, zipper and hands are all in the same place at the same time (within reason)
  • The player on the left has reached this same position in the swing with different segments of the body reaching the ball at different times
  • There will be a difference of impact shaft lean between the two players due to one player reaching impact “together” and the other shoving his hands more forward as he falls back
  • The player on the right is more “connected” through impact…won’t be the longest hitter but will be able to find the ball in the fairway more often
  • The player on the left is putting more pressure on the rear portion of the lower back which could have a potential for injury if he’s not careful

Now, obviously there are pro and cons to both positions. Overall, if you want to be consistent and in-balance more often that not, I would suggest you try your best to focus on being “stacked” when you hit the ball.

Let’s dive in a touch deeper to show you what happens physiologically on 3D when you fall back through impact and I think it will really drive the point home.

  • At address notice the Vertical Spine Number 96.2, this is showing us where the spine is positioned at address
  • You can see the head is in the center of the bubble

  • On the way to the top of the swing you can see that the spine has moved “away” from the target laterally a slight bit to 98 degrees
  • The head has dropped downward and has also moved laterally as well- more lean over the right leg to the top

Now here is where the problem comes in…as you work your way to the top, it’s ok of your head moves a touch laterally but in transition if it stays “back” while your hips run out from under you then you will begin to fall backwards on the way to your belt-high delivery position.

  • We can see at the delivery position that the spine has continued to fall backwards as the hips rotate out from under the upperbody
  • When this happens the hands will begin to push forward- dragging the handle into the impact zone
  • Whenever you have too much spin out and fall back the hands move forward to accommodate this motion and this reduces your Angle of Attack and decreases your dynamic loft at impact
  • This will cause balls to be hit on the decent of the club’s arc and reduce loft making shots come out lower than normal with a higher spin rate and that means shorter drives

Now let’s examine impact…

  • The player on the left has reached impact in a more disconnected fashion versus the player on the right as you compare the two
  • The player on the right has a shaft lean at impact that is less than a degree (.75) while the player on the left has a much more noticeable forward lean of the shaft thereby reducing dynamic loft at impact

  • The player on the left’s spine has moved from 96.2 to 112.9, a difference of 16.7 degrees while the player on the right has only moved back a few degrees. We know this because his head has stayed in the bubble we charted at address
  • The hips have run out from under the player on the left in the downswing and this causes the head to fall back more, the hands to push forward more, and the impact alignments of the club to be too much down with very little dynamic loft (as also shown in the photo below)

Whenever the hips turn out from under the upper body then you will tend to have a “falling back effect of the spine and a pushing forward of the hands” through impact.  Notice how the hips are radically more open on the player on the right versus the left- 27.91 versus 42.42 degrees.

So, now that we can see what happens when the hips spin out, you fall back, and you fail to be “stacked” at impact let’s show you a simple way you can do this at home to alleviate this issue.


  • A great drill to focus on being more stacked at impact is to make slow motion swings with the feeling that the upper portion of your arms stay glued to your chest
  • These shots will be full swings but only 20% of your total power because the goal here is connection which allows everything to reach impact together and in-balance
  • The second thought as you make these swings is to pay attention to your head, if you can focus on allowing it to stay “over the top of the ball” at impact you will find that it will stay put a touch more so than normal. Now this is not exactly how it works but it’s a good feeling nonetheless
  • Once you get the feeling at 20% speed work your way up to 50% speed and repeat the process. If you can do it here then you are ready to move up to full swings at top speed

Finally, don’t forget that every golfer’s hips will be open at impact and everyone’s head will fall back a touch — this is fine. Just don’t over-do it! Fix this and enjoy finding the ball in the fairway more often than not.

Questions or comments? [email protected]





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