For many golfers in North America, winter sadly means “off-season” from golf. Courses are closed and many driving ranges shut down.
This is the perfect time to work on your game! You won’t be lured away be the possibility of getting 18 holes in. Your golf addiction will be fed by either playing Wii or watching the Golf Channel.
Change that this year. Kick start 2012 by working on your golf fitness. It may check off one of your New Year’s resolutions and make you a better player in the mean time.
I recently had the pleasure of going to a training session at Athlete Factory in Calgary, AB with former Canadian Tour Player, co-founder of Swinkey golf training aid and PGA Teaching professional Todd Halpen. He has been sharing with me the tremendous gains he is experiencing in his golf game due to his new workout routine with Personal Trainer and Conditioning Coach Robin Bauer.
Bauer introduced Halpen to the importance of focusing on the Posterior Chain, which includes the hamstrings, glutes and back muscles. Most golfers are quadriceps dominate which means they do most of the work in their golf swing through their knee joint versus their hip joint.
The hip joint is the most powerful joint in the body. Halpen has found it invaluable to his swing. “By using hip drive in the golf swing it took out a huge myriad of swing flaws,” stated Halpen.
Many golfers think the downswing should be initiated with the feeling of firing your lead hip. In fact, Halpen teaches to fire your trail hip first on your down swing. He says the actual feeling is your trail side glute muscle fires first. This creates power and stability.
Halpen adds, “There is no power in the golf swing without stability. My swing a year ago felt like a lash at the ball then trying to find balance in the finish. Now it is a powerful hip drive on the downswing and the rest of it takes care of itself.”
Halpen teaches his students a very “Hogan”esque move to torque through the ground by keeping the trail heel pushing into the grass upon the initiation of the downswing. That is achieved by ensuring the trail glut fires first leading to a powerful hip drive. If you are lifting your trail heel in your downswing you are leaking power.
There are many drills to build strength in the Posterior Chain to avoid this. One of the most important is a proper squat. It is imperative that you have a fitness professional evaluate your squat to ensure proper technique.
Most people have their weight on their toes through the squat putting a great deal of stress on the quadriceps. The key is to move through the hip and have your weight on your heels throughout the squat.
Another common fault in a squat is collapsing at the waist versus having an upright torso. You want to keep you eyes focused just above the horizon line throughout the squat to help maintain this position.
Finally, you want to feel the hamstrings through the duration of the squat. Focus on using them on the descent and lift.
Start with just a bar and add weights as your technique improves. The Athlete Factory recommends that golfers should be able to squat twice their body weight if performing the squat properly.
Another great power and stability training exercise is the reverse grip bent over row. You start by placing feet shoulder width apart or slightly narrower. Start with just the bar and add weight as the technique becomes more familiar.
Palms are facing out and the upper body is at a 45 degree angle. Focus on getting the back set first. This means having a curvature in your spine not a flat lower back.
Next you want to engage the shoulder blades by feeling they are being pulled back and down. A common fault is a shrugging motion with the shoulders verses pinching the shoulder blades back and down. The path of the bar on the lift is at a 90 degree angle to the torso.
These are just two ways to develop stability, strength and speed to benefit the golf swing. The Athlete Factory differs from other fitness programs in that they don’t prescribe to “golf specific” strength training. Instead, they maintain that sprint and jump mechanics will produce far greater gains for a golfer’s performance.
Hit it hard in 2012!
By Lisa “Longball”Vlooswyk