How fast a golfer swings the club has had an increasingly higher correlation to how much money the top PGA Tour professionals make in recent years—this is no secret.
What has been a secret, until now, is how fast other golfers your age swing and how you compare. No one has known, or if they have, they didn’t share it. We are going to reveal in this article, based on the research and data we have been collecting for over six years, where you stand compared to where you could be. No longer will you be held captive to father time and the belief that you are doomed to get worse with age!
After reading this article, you will see what is possible for you, depending on where you are in your golf life based on the cold, hard facts of science. The data sample we have is almost 800 golfers large and ranges from ages 10 to 80. The really cool thing about this article, though, is that we aren’t stopping there. We are then going to dive into the top three tests that you can do at home that correlate to clubhead speed at an incredibly high level.
If you find yourself in the 25th percentile for club speed but 90th percentile for the power tests, you have more speed in you right this second, we just have to get it out of you. It might be figuring out which of your four rotary centers are locked up or could be a simple nervous system fix such as over-speed training. All it takes is a simple assessment and application of the correct fix and you are good to go!
If, however, your swing speed is in the 75th percentile and your power numbers are only in the 25th percentile, you are swinging faster than your body can handle. The only way you are getting faster and minimizing the risk of injury is by improving your physical abilities.
You are likely already maximizing your equipment and technique as far as they will take you at this moment. Your low-hanging fruit is in either the mobility or the power quadrants of speed. This is again easily determined with a simple assessment so that you can apply the correct fix to your problem. If, however, you skipped the assessment and just started over-speed training or something other than what you actually needed, your likelihood for injury is probably quite high.
So let’s get into it…
STEP 1 – Power Assessment
The three tests that we measured in our research to look at their relationship to club speed were standing shot put from both sides (6 lb medicine ball), seated chest pass (6 lb medicine ball) and vertical jump. The correlations for each test to club speed for the entire sample are below. A correlation of 1.0 means that there is an exact relationship between the two variables, a correlation of 0.0 means there is absolutely no relationship. As you can see, vertical jump had the lowest correlation while shot put right (strong side) had the strongest correlation.
Shot Put R 0.822
Shot Put Left 0.809
Seated Chest Pass 0.802
Vertical Jump 0.644
For a more in-depth look at each test’s correlations to the club speed within each specific age group, I would encourage you to download the entire free report here.
Below are the charts for the power tests and their percentiles for each age group (click the image to expand)
Each of these tests is the first step for you to take to objectively assess where you are in terms of your ability to produce power. Complete each test, write down your numbers and then write down what percentile you fall into.
The next step is putting in your swing speed, assessing the relationship and then coming up with a plan.
Step 2 – Swing Speed Assessment
This is the one everyone is excited about. Find your age group bracket and see where you fall in the percentiles. Write this number and your percentile down and compare it to your power numbers. See anything interesting yet?
Swing Speed Data Table
|10-13 years old|
|14-16 years old|
|17-29 years old|
|30-39 years old|
|40-49 years old|
|50-59 years old|
|60-69 years old|
|70+ years old|
Step 3 – Asses Mobility
This is the most important step but also the least exciting. In order to complete step four, which is going to be coming up with your plan, you need to know how your mobility is at your four main rotary centers. Normally we charge $10 for this at-home assessment, but since you are reading it here at GolfWRX we are giving it to you for free.
Once you complete these simple mobility tests, we’ll give you the email to send your results to so we can send you some simple fixes complementary.
Write down your mobility results next to your power numbers, swing speeds and your percentiles for all categories. At this point, you should have a simple yet clear picture of you as a golfer.
Step 4 – Your Plan
This is where the magic happens. At this point, you have done more than 90 percent of golfers, golf instructors, and golf fitness gurus. You assessed objectively where you are today, all the major physical quadrants of your power profile. And it should not have taken you more than 15 minutes.
Now, look at all your numbers and first, identify any mobility restrictions you have. These are the most important ones to address first. Without question. Do the fixes we send you.
Next, take a look at your power percentiles vs. your club speed percentile.
Three Possible Outcomes
More RPM Under the Hood
If your power percentiles are higher than your speed percentile, you have more speed in your tank right this instant, we just need to let it out!
Fix any mobility restrictions you have and that will gain you speed. If you had no mobility restrictions, solutions such as over-speed training could be huge for you! That being said, avoid high volume protocols. We have found in some of our other research that you can gain the same speed numbers with a lot fewer swings. If you’re interested in learning more about these, stay tuned. I would also recommend looking at your equipment for ideal fit and your technique for maximal efficiency. Your solutions could lie in those areas as well.
The Ticking Time Bomb
If your power percentiles were lower than your speed percentile, you are swinging faster than your body wants to. You likely have optimized your equipment and technique to a degree. You are essentially defying nature. This sounds great until you understand the injury risk potential that exists for you.
Making sure your mobility is up to par is step one. If you want a sure-fire way to assure injury, swing faster than your body is capable of handling and do it without rotational mobility. Guaranteed poor outcome in that situation.
The next thing you need to do is get involved in a golf performance program of some sort that works on the specific areas of detriment that were identified in the power testing.
This doesn’t mean to start training the tests, however. This means that you should be implementing exercises and drills that train up the skills necessary to maximize power output in a pushing, rotational and vertical manner. Depending on your training experience and background, oftentimes seeking out help from a professional in designing this part of the solution is a wise move.
The Balanced Golfer
If you find that all your percentiles were pretty much the same, congratulations! You are a balanced golfer. As with the other two types, check your mobility and make sure you close any gaps there first. The next step for you will likely be a balance approach of technique, equipment, mobility, and strength conditioning for golf.
Once you figure out where you land, you likely will have questions about where to go next. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for complimentary calls to discuss your results and give you suggestions of what to do next.
Happy speed gains!
On Spec: Club fitting isn’t magic! Also, Lydia Ko and Stewart Cink win again
On this week’s episode, host Ryan Barath covers everything from Lydia Ko’s comeback win on the LPGA tour, to why club fittings aren’t some magical thing that’s going to instantly lower scores.
It also covers Stewart Cink’s win at the RBC Heritage and offers a sneak peek at the GolfWRX Best Iron list of 2021.
Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) here.
Fix your golfing back pain, Step 2: Early stage rehab
This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.
You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com
This article is No. 2 in a 4 part series.
Step 2 – Early Stage Rehab
Step 3 – Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns
Step 4 – Building global strength for prevention of future injury
Now that we have identified the source of the back issue through assessment, it’s time to start working on the underlying causes, in order to reduce pain and decrease the likelihood of re-injury further down the track.
In our experience, mechanical back pain in golfers caused by physical issues is most often caused by one or more of the the following 4 issues, with many amateur players displaying the entire collection!
– Lack of Mobility at the Hips and Mid / Upper Back
– Poor Posture
– Misalignment and Muscle Imbalances
– Weak Core Muscles
Because pain is likely still a factor at this stage, we need to proceed with caution and focus on rehab work that is low intensity and has a low risk of causing a pain flare up.
With that in mind, in ‘Step 2: Early Stage Rehab’ we are going to address Mobility, Posture and Misalignment / Muscle Imbalances. These 3 areas can be improved upon, and should have a positive impact on pain reduction, even if back discomfort is still restricting larger, more global movements.
Step 2.1 – Improving Mobility in Hips and Mid / Upper back
Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine (lower back) falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected.
In order to avoid excessive low back rotation forces in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:
We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.
Suggested Exercise Circuit – Hip Mobility
1) Self Massage Glutes – 45 secs each side
2) Cross Leg Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side
3) Prone Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side
4) 90 90 Hip Mobility – 5 reps each side
Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)
Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).
Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility
1) Self Massage Mid / Upper back – 60 seconds
2) Upper Back Extension – 30 seconds
3) All Fours Rotation – 5 reps each side
Step 2.2 – Improving Posture
Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).
The 3 major spinal curves: 1 – Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar
Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this has had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures.
Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.
The muscles responsible for holding your posture are located deep in the body and close to the spine. Strengthening them can be tricky, as we don’t really have a lot of conscious control over their activation. Hence posture being such a difficult thing to remember! The combination of the 4 exercises featured below help provide the stimulus to those deep muscles that, if trained often enough, will automatically hold your posture in a good position.
Suggested Exercises – Strengthening posture muscles
1) Wall Posture Check – 30 secs
2) Posture Cue – 60 secs
3) Posture Cue Knee Lifts – 10 reps each side
4) Arm Press – 15 reps
Step 2.3 – Fixing Alignment Issues and Muscle Imbalances
Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right, back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and / or below.
For example, if we have short / tight / overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knees to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain, then this would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.
If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!
Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance.
In the next article; Step 3: Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns, we will show you the progression of exercises and key technique principles to build up the strength and movement patterns to return to regular exercise and golf.
If you would like to see how Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:
If you would like to access training programs designed for elite and recreational players, then check out the following resources and services from Nick at Golf Fit Pro:
A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: March (belatedly)
Editor’s note: All latency on the publishing here is the fault of the Editor-in-Chief.
As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine.
Absolutely. Meet me up north (and, to himself, what have I got to lose?)
No sense in putting the cart before the horse, as the old pro used to say, as cirE “Flip” Hedgebow used to ignore. As March came to a close, as cirE locked the pro shop for the last time until November, he took a leap of faith. How big of a leap? Let’s get through March, and find out.
Speaking of carts and horses, March for Flip always came in like a lamb, and went out like a lion. That ran contrary to the folklore but, all things considered, there was always a 50% chance of things running contrary.
No, the best reason for topsy and turvy in March, for Flip, was explained by his birthday. Being born in the middle of the month might suggest balance to some; for him, it was a constant reminder of the chaos that led up to his earthly arrival, tempered only by the madness that ensued. If that’s balance, you can have it.
In Flip’s world, March was about the arrival of the most seasoned of snowbirds, the ones with more than five years of retirement under their growing-shrinking belts. Some were expanding, as they had given up on fitness; the rest were shrinking, as the truest effects of age caught them up. In each case, this pod arrived with military precision, knowing where and when nearly every penny would be spent. No frivolity remained in their schedules, no ambiguity survived from younger, budgeting days. No longer minnows, they recognized that uncertainty stalked them, and that all of their remaining wits needed to center on a small and precise target. The smaller, the more precise, the better…for the women.
Like all men, the old guys appreciated the consistency and precision their wives brought to their worlds.
Like all men, the old guys detested the ever-encroaching, loss of control over their own destinies.
They would enter the pro shop, grab the latest hat like a modern-day Judge Smails, and set it at a rakish angle, atop their sleek domes. Flip learned quite early on that the only way to ensure the sale was cash. When the wives invariably came to complain and demand a refund, Flip could “only” offer a pro shop credit, guaranteeing that something would be purchased. If they bought it on account or on a card, the sale was irretrievably lost.
Flip expected these purchases from his March gam: the cheapest golf balls, when their supply of northern culls ran out; the attire from last fall, or even the previous summer, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer when March 20th arrived; and some odd or end that the pro had overlooked, lost to some sort of missionary of time. The only thing stronger than the will of the spouse, was the desire of the old guy to make some sort of purchase, to re-establish some semblance of power and control, for at least a moment.
How did you get your name, and why is the last letter, and not the first, capitalized?
(silence. he rarely heard the first question, as everyone knew him as “Flip;” he never heard the second one, as no one paid attention anymore.)
Two stories are a lot to tell. Let’s save both answers, even if it’s just a little while.
(silence. she wasn’t satisfied)
If the red hair caused his eyes to move from the mundane nature of packing and sealing boxes, everything else physical compelled him to put down the tape gun, sense that his throat was dry, know that he would not clear it without a squeak, turn away for a bottle of water, take a swig for lubrication, and, finally, turn back with his finest Axel Foley smile, and greet her with: How long have you been retired?
It was an incalculable risk. There was a 90% chance that she would react with an I’m not that old sort of affront, turn on her heels, and march out the door. There was a 5% chance that she would get the joke, and would stick around for another exchange, before smiling awkwardly and departing. There remained a 5% chance of something else. On this 21st day of March, that final 5% wafted in.
Wafted in, in the guise of a lesson he thought that he had planned. Planned for one of the wives, a late-sixties model whose swing was frozen in time: the unlikely combination of a forward lurch of the torso, a reverse pivot of the feet, and right in the middle, an impossible heave of the hips in one of four unpredictable directions. If anyone were to discover a fifth cardinal point, it would be Agnes Porter. Until this moment, Flip Hedgebow gave thanks that the world was blessed with just one of her; more than one might have tilted the globe off its axis. Now, he offered up a different type of gratitude, thanks to the visage of her granddaughter, who bore no resemblance to the matriarch, beyond the title of Agnes Porter.
They write that a story may be deemed worthy for its inerrant language, or for its compelling events. The story of Agnes Porter the way-younger and Flip Hedgebow benefitted from both, along with an overdose of peripeteia.
Artwork by JaeB
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