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Drummond Golf oct 2020
Stronger does not always mean hitting it longer!

It is amazing how many clients come into the clinic to get fit for golf and I always hear the same response. Indeed, golfers over recent times have become obsessed with distance and the need to lift heavy weights to hit the ball further.

Bryson DeChambeau has a lot to answer for in this regard, but what many people do not realise is that as much as he bulked up and became stronger, he did an incredible job of maintaining his flexibility for an efficient golf swing. This belief has filtered into the women’s game too. Equipment has also been designed for distance and the days of finesse and control in the game seem less important.

My first question to new clients is, “What do you feel you need to improve physically to play better golf?” The answer is pretty much a consistent response, “I need to get stronger!” My next question is, “Why and how do you feel this will help your golf game?” If you guessed the answer was, “I’ll be able to hit the ball longer and get my handicap down!” you’d be right.

Many female clients feel that strength is the main issue missing from their golf game and they believe that that is the key for them to play better golf. As sports physiotherapists, we do a physical assessment to see how the client’s body moves, flexibility tests, balance tests followed by strength and power tests. Next, we take a look at videos of their swing to see how they apply their physical attributes to their golf swing.

Now let me tell you that most amateur golfers need to improve the basic fundamentals of their fitness. This would allow their swing mechanics to become more efficient and help deliver strength and power to their golf swing in an efficient manner. When we assess videos and discuss with their referring coach, the most common swing fault with women, noted by their coach is that, they try to generate their speed through their upper body.”

Many female golfers really struggle to use ground forces and generate powerful hip drives. You can squat and deadlift all you like, but if you have poor ground reaction - this is not going to help your strength and power in golf.

It is vital you use your legs efficiently and create good hip drive to power your golf swing. We are not undermining strength training in females at all, as strength training is an important part of any training program. Training many senior female golfers’ strength is important not only for their golf but often for bone density due to hormonal changes.

Where do we start then with our road to better golf in the gym?

My focus with golf fitness is to build from the ground up. Initially, we place a lot of emphasis on single-leg balance and control. This helps build hip stability and balance awareness. In time, this will lead to much better lower body loading and drive. Then guess what our next step would be? That’s right, build some strength in that lower body by lifting weights!

The following exercises are all based on improving the fundamental needs of a good golf fitness program including hip mobility, single-leg balance, stability and strength in the hips. I encourage clients to feel ground force reactions and maintain good control as they are great starting points to improve performance. Even before they start lifting heavier weights, they often make big improvements in the distance and consistency of their golf swing.

Great Golf Fitness Exercises For Women

Side Skater Squat

● Standing holding dumbbells with your weight loaded onto your right foot

● Drop into a squat on your right leg, bending your knee and dropping back into your hip

● As you squat down, reach your left leg sidewards to tap the floor

● Stand back up and bring your left leg back into a centred position

● Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions and then switch legs

Reverse Curtsy Lunge

● Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells by your side

● Keeping weight on your right foot, take a step back with your left leg, crossing it behind your right leg

● Keep pelvis level as reach as far back and across dropping the left knee to the floor

● Slowly drop into the right knee down until the thigh is parallel to the floor and both knees are bent at roughly 90-degree angles

● Gently tap the left foot down, then push through the right heel to rise out of the lunge and bring the left foot back next to the right, returning to the starting position.

● Repeat this exercise for desired repetitions and perform on the other leg

Bulgarian Split Lunge with Rotation

● Place a bench behind you and place your right foot on top of the bench

● Start upright holding a medicine ball out in front of you

● Bend your left knee dropping into a squat, as you rotate the ball across your body to the left side

● Drive up from the floor straightening your left leg

● As you do this rotate the ball up and across the body to the right side over your head

● Repeat on the left leg for the desired reps and then switch legs

Step Up with Hip Drive

● Standing side on to the right of a step holding a weighted plate

● Step up sideways onto the step with your right leg, plant your foot firmly facing forwards

● Drive the left knee up and across the right leg as it straightens up into extension

● Keep your body facing forwards, but try to feel the rotation around your right leg while maintaining balance

● Step down and return to the starting position

● Repeat for the desired reps and switch legs

These four exercises are all great for improving balance, hip mobility and strength. Ideally, perform each exercise for 2 - 3 sets for around 10 x repetitions. We suggest picking two to three of the exercises and adding them to your next golf workout. Get your hips working efficiently and ground forces reacting more strongly, then we can decide if we need to pump iron.

Words: Kam Bahbra

Golf fitness expert and physiotherapist based in Sydney, Australia.