Golf Fitness Programs: Testing Your Golf-Ability
The best golf fitness program begins by measuring how your swing fits your body
Golf fitness for everyday players took a major leap forward when the Titleist Performance Institute applied its database of thousands of swing measurements (used to help tour pros hone their game) into an integrated program of analysis, exercise, and instruction delivered by PGA pros, physical trainers, and medical professionals. With the TPI approach, you learn to adapt your swing to your physical capabilities, rather than try to force your body to perform a perfect (and perfectly unachievable) golf swing.
The entire process begins with a 20-minute assessment of your body’s strength, flexibility, and balance as it relates to your ability to hit the ball with a golf club. Phil Striano, a Dobbs Ferry chiropractor, scratch golfer, and TPI-certified medical professional, showed us six of the 11 TPI measurements and explained how they affect your ability to shoot par. Helping were Ardsley Country Club assistant PGA professionals Pete Stefanchik and Joe Gothmann.
These tests also serve as good exercises for improving your on-course performance. A good benchmark is to hold each final position for 15 seconds, then repeat. If you try these yourself, don’t forget to warm up first, and if you start feeling any pain, stop.
Single Leg Balance
Balance is the most underrated component of a good golf swing. If you can’t stay centered over the ball while your shoulders are turning, your torso is twisting, your weight is shifting, and your club is whipping through the ball, it’s almost impossible to hit one down the middle. To develop better balance, stand on one leg with the other raised so your thigh is parallel to the ground. Extend both arms. Easy, huh? Now close your eyes and try to balance on each leg in turn for a minimum of 15 seconds.
Shoulder Abduction and External Rotation
Many of the bad things that can happen at the top of your backswing are due to a lack of flexibility and stability in your shoulders. To increase yours, extend your arm to the side and raise your hand as if you’re getting ready to wave at someone so that your arm forms an “L.” Place a club behind your arm with the head in your raised hand and the grip pointing down. Now pull the grip forward with your other hand, using the club as a lever to pull the club head back and torquing your arm at the shoulder.
Bridge with Leg Extension
Power in the golf swing comes from your gluteal muscles — your butt — and its connections to your legs and back, your hamstrings, and hips. To test yours, lie on your back with your knees raised and lift your midsection until only your feet and shoulders support your body. Then straighten one leg at a time and see how long you can hold the position. For an extra test, point to the sky with your arms while you do it.
Seated Trunk Rotation
We all know a strong core is essential to a solid, pain-free swing. Flexibility is important, too. To test yours, sit on an exercise ball (or even a chair), place a club behind your back, and turn your shoulders. Without moving your hips, you should be able to twist and hold your upper body at least 45 degrees.
Overhead Deep Squat
Stretching your shoulders and latissimus dorsi (the strongest muscle in your back) while building strength in your legs will help both ends of your golf swing — and just about everything in between. Start with a club held straight overhead. Hold it there while you squat as far as you can while keeping both feet flat on the floor. You’ll build balance this way, too.
Some of the best exercises give you a little bit of everything — strength, flexibility, and balance. This one works your core and legs while increasing your ability to rotate with power. Giving yourself plenty of room, hold a club (or exercise ball) in front of you at arm’s length. Lunge forward on one leg until the thigh is parallel to the floor, then turn your shoulders as far as you can, first in one direction, then the other. •