Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a weekend warrior hittin’ the links, there are so many ways to improve your golf game! With spring and summer upon us, it’s time to start thinking about it. Ideally, we should be starting to think about how to move better now, so that we can avoid injury and optimize our game in the mid-summer heat of our season.
It’s a warm summer morning, and you’re focused on hitting that ball! Yes, we swing the club a handful… or maybe 3 handfuls of times. But there is so much more going on. Think about every time we bend over to pick the ball up from the ground, to mount it on the tee, getting in and out of the golf cart or walking the course. There’s a lot more activity going on in this game, most of which is much less technical. Regardless of technicality, most of us are ramping up to this activity after a winter away from the course. It’s important to be mindful of this and not neglect the small stuff.
Now, let’s talk about the golf swing. Talk about power! But where is that power coming from? Where SHOULD it be coming from?
If you know me, you’ll know that I talk a TON about the importance of our hips and the role they play in initiating movement. If we think about the hips and the musculature that surrounds the pelvis, it’s easy to see that some of the biggest muscles cross the hip joints. With this in mind, it’s also easy to then conclude that this area is the most efficient at creating our biggest movements. Not only must it be strong, but also mobile. Optimal mobility in the hips will ensure that the lumbar spine, or low back, isn’t having to over compensate for the lack of movement at the hips. With strong, mobile hips, we ensure that the lumbar spine remains supported and strong, allowing the power generated at the hips to be transferred into the mid back, shoulders, and ultimately into the club. This allows for peak power transfer at the moment of contact, with the most ease. Simply put, a more clean, powerful stroke with more control and a straighter flightpath.
Let’s break it down: Line up the club. Feet in the right position. Eyes on the ball. The backswing should be patient and slow, the follow through effortless and smooth.
The shoulders and arms swing back like a solid pendulum, gaining momentum as the mid and upper back rotate between a steady neck and pelvis. The momentum is suddenly redirected as the hips are wound and whip the motion in the opposite direction. Weight is shifted from back leg to front. The club strikes the ball. The hips continue to rotate forward over a planted front foot. The rest of the spine and shoulders follow the motion initiated by the hips. Like the tail of a whip, they open up to face the green, club coming to a stop behind the back.
Each phase of the swing requires weight shifting from left to right leg or vice versa. This motion alone requires the ability of the hips to load weight from side to side. If we freeze an image of a golfer in his follow through stance, we can see that a lot has changed since the backswing. The front foot is planted while the rest of the body has rotated around it. The hips face forward and the shoulders are almost facing 180° from where they started. That is a lot of fast movement! In order to prevent injury and make the best of this season, it is important to start our warm up now, not when we step onto the driving range. If you're interested in playing the best game of your life this summer, come on in for some tips!