Over the last few months I have been working with wounded warriors on their golf swing through a program called Links to Freedom. Words can’t express how cool of an opportunity this was. I look forward to getting back out there in the Spring of 2018. Many of the participants complained of back pain when we were out on the range. After a few weeks I noticed a common theme in the advice that I was giving. Hopefully other people can benefit from these three tips that held tried and true.
1. Start In a Good Position
If you don’t start in a good posture it is super challenging to finish in one. Minor variations in the amount of back, knee or hip flexion you use at set up can limit the flexibility that you have in your backswing and follow through. It also throws off the plane of the club when you first initiate the swing. In this video you will see a quick tip that will allow you to create a great starting position.
2. Stay Within Yourself
You hear this a lot in sports. More often used as a tip to boost mental performance in sports. However, in this case it is meant to optimize the physical component of your swing. We see tour golfers with these big beautiful swings that we want to replicate. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the flexibility that these stud athletes demonstrate. When we blow through the flexibility that we have in our golf swing in an effort to look like John Daly we actually kill any chance we had at hitting a good shot.
You need to respect the limitations that you have. This is the best way to hit consistent shots. Standing up taller in your back swing or letting your lead elbow excessively bend to create a bigger swing is a killer.
3. Learn To Make a Pure Strike
This seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how much better you would feel if you learned how to strike the ball purely. Most amateur golfers actually hit behind the ball in an effort to lift the ball in the air. When you do this you actually end up transferring most of the energy you create into the ground. The force is transmitted through the club and ultimately into the greek god like body that you possess. It is equivalent to going out behind the house and just slamming your club into the driveway. Especially, when you are hitting shot after shot on a turn mat that covers a cement block!
Since I am not a PGA professional, just a lowly physical therapist with an obsessive passion for golf, I thought I would refer to Hank Haney for some technique advice.
“Ideally, the bottom of the swing with an iron–where the clubhead hits the ground–is a few inches in front of the ball. To achieve that, the handle of the club needs to lead the clubhead into impact. For that to happen, the lower body must shift toward the target at the beginning of the downswing. You also should turn your hips in conjunction with the shift at the start of the downswing to get your weight to your front foot. Now your hands are leading the clubhead into the ball, setting you up for flush contact every time.” Hank Haney
Keep these tips in mind when headed to the course or driving range. In golf, we usually get a couple minutes in between shots. This time turns into about 4 seconds for most golfers on the range; making it way more likely that you will give the back a workout it wasn’t ready for. Keep these tips in mind and please make an effort to go through your normal pre shot routine before most of your range shots. This will give your body a little more time in between each shot.
Adequate strength and endurance around the hips and trunk muscles is also crucial, especially in golf. Fatigue in these muscles often leads to the inability to maintain good posture over the course of 18 holes of golf. This can lead to inconsistencies in your swing and increased risk of injury. In this article we discuss how to properly train your trunk muscles (a.k.a core muscles). This a great article by the team at Fitness Volt that will also be helpful for addressing strength deficits.
-Dr. Michael Infantino, DPT