Improving Your Golf Game, the Optimal Recipe
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of articles about how to improve your golf. Just pick up any weekly or monthly issue of any golf magazine. You will read page after page on how to get better at your driving distance, how to improve your putting, how to improve your short game. The list goes on and on and on. (I could probably fill this whole article with the titles of the articles that are “supposed” to fix your game). This tells me a few things about golfers: 1) we all want to get better, 2) we are anxious to absorb all the information possible to get better, and 3) golf is a game of continual improvement.
The question that may be running through your mind at this point is: “Why is this article any better the ones I read last week?” The answer is that it is not. It is different, not necessarily better or worse. The difference is the perspective from which this article is written. Let me explain.
I currently work on the PGA Tour as a personal trainer/strength and conditioning coach. Previous to my position on the tour I worked in professional baseball with the San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers training elite athletes. This article will look at improving your golf swing through the “my” eyes, which is a perspective different from players, swing coaches, and sports psychologists. This article will not speak directly about specific drills or mental thoughts that should be incorporated into your swing. We will look at golf from a broader perspective and provide some insight on how to approach improvement in your golf game on a day-to-day basis.
I see improvement in the sport of golf contingent upon three ideas. These ideas are categories that any golfer or any other athlete can apply to their daily lives for improvement in their sport of choice. The three keys to improvement in any athletic endeavor, golf included, are:
2) biomechanical, and
Realize that entire books are written on these three subjects, and the point of this article is to present these keys to pique your interest for more information to help you improve your game.
Biomechanical (Golf Swing Mechanics)
Biomechanics is essentially physics applied to the body. The study of biomechanics concerns itself with how the body moves and what allows it to perform certain human movements. For example, biomechanics studies how the body moves to throw a baseball 95 miles per hour or how to swing a golf club to create club head speed of 120 miles per hour. Biomechanics looks at how the body moves to perform these actions efficiently. Biomechanics in relation to the golf swing concerns itself with how the body swings a golf club to get the most efficient and effective swing possible from the human body. I would estimate that probably 95% of the books, articles in golf magazines and television programs deal with the topic of biomechanics. When it comes to the biomechanics of the golf swing, the research is pretty solid, and “they” (swing coaches, instructors, etc…) know mechanically what the golf swing should do, and how the body is suppose to work to perform it correctly.
Biomechanically, the human body is not perfect. The perfect golf swing or the perfect pitching motion has yet to be achieved by any human. The professionals in such sports get very close. Their efficiency ratings when it comes to these athletic actions are in the 90’s in terms of percentages, but there is yet to be a human who has achieved 100% biomechanical efficiency in any movement. Don’t expect to be near 100% efficiency. To get better swing mechanics the bottom line is that you must find quality information, instruction and practice, practice, practice. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Physical “Golf Fitness” Recipe
The physical side of golf has to do with preparing the actual physical body to perform the athletic movement you are asking it to do. Every movement that your body performs, be it walking down the street, playing catch, or swinging a golf club, requires effort from your body. Your body has to perform “work” to complete these physical actions. To swing a golf club with the correct biomechanics in an effective and efficient manner, your body needs to be flexible, balanced, strong, have endurance, and power.
It becomes obvious that to swing a club on the correct path you body has to have the “platform or base” to do it correctly. Your platform consists of the flexibility, balance, strength, endurance, and power we discussed in the previous paragraph. These 5 pieces to the golf fitness puzzle are developed through training which create what is called a “transfer of training effect” into the golf swing.
Quite often I see amateur golfers lacking the necessary amounts of flexibility, balance, etc. and it hinders any possibility of developing the correct biomechanics of the golf swing.
So simply put, you have to develop a better swing; you need to develop more flexibility into your body, improve your balance, become stronger in your overall body, improve your muscular endurance and what we are all after, and improve your power.
Think of your golf fitness as a cookie recipe. If you leave out any one ingredient, your cookie will taste terrible.
Don’t leave out any ingredients in your golf fitness plan.
You have probably read articles of “the mental side of golf,” which I think are great reads and have a significant benefit to your game. I know personally when I am confident in my swing, hitting the fairway off the tee is much easier. That has to do with confidence in my game in addition to success on the course. I would like to interject a point that I have seen from working with numerous professional athletes.
Let me begin by asking you a question: “which occurs first, success or confidence?” The answers I hear half the time are success and the other half of the time confidence. Let me first tell you that it is a trick question. The answer is as follows: “Proper preparation precedes success and confidence.” So with that said, I found through experience that both success on the course and confidence in your game are a direct result of being properly prepared physically, mentally, and biomechanically for competition.
So just thinking about making a putt usually does not work. Making that putt or putting that drive into the fairway is more a result of days upon days of physical and biomechanical preparation of your swing. This will then foster what is required to make those shots on the course. One additional observation: I have found that creating the mental focus required for golf is much easier when you have developed the physical foundation for your swing. If you trust that your body will do what you ask it do, when you want it to do it, mentally the game becomes much easier.
Where can I learn more?
Again, remember my perspective is from a different corner. I also believe that if you put these three philosophies to work on a daily basis your golf game will improve by leaps and bounds. For more information and help with your total golf game, please go our web site at www.bioforcegolf.com