Golf Fitness

“Pete,
Recently I attended a breakfast with Clemson golf coach Larry Penley. Someone at our table asked Larry about fitness and golf. He said his team gets a visit each fall from Randy Meyer from sea island and he puts his team through a fitness evaluation. He said that Meyer can tell from this evaluation, who the longest/shortest hitter is, who hits a cut/draw and where each player’s bad shots go. All this, without watching them hit a ball or swing a club. Could you talk about golf fitness and the exercises that are beneficial to improving? I know the one leg drill is a strength builder.
  -Rob Daniel

Rob,
I can back up Larry’s statement about Randy.  While J was on tour, we were heavily involved in golf fitness, and had one of the best fitness/health experts in the area.  He too could tell a lot about my students game just from evaluations!  Fascinating stuff. 

Golf specific fitness has come a long way in the last 20 years.  I am by no means an expert, but know a couple guys who are….   I’m not comfortable at this point talking too much about golf and fitness, but will make just a couple of comments that I do believe are important.

1.  GRAVITY GOLF DRILLS are the most sport specific exercises you can do.  One arm drills, one leg drills, and motion drills not only strengthen, they help stabilize the body (improve equilibrium/balance). 

2.  Working on a FULLY ROTATED RELAXED BALANCE FINISH while you train and play can also be considered a ‘sport specific’ exercise that is critical to performance. 

3.  Significant repetition of the GRAVITY DRILLS into a FULLY ROTATED RELAXED BALANCED FINISH is one of the best ways to improve the body’s ability to perform the swing, building sport specific strength and flexibility.

*Personally, I believe that the above 3 suggestions are most beneficial.  To play better golf, nothing can beat quality training that includes actually swinging the club! Since these drills build strength and sport specific flexibility and balance at the same time….they top my list!

4.  WORK OUTS- Building stability and core strength I would say is the key for golf workouts.  Exercises that focus on building strength in the big muscles and on improving stability (balance) on your forward pivotal axis.  Workouts should include rotational motions that target the core.  The use of medicine balls and therabands are great for this. 

5.  STRETCHING- Yoga rocks, especially for athletes.  Next best thing is consistent stretching.  Seeing a specialist can help target specific areas that might be keeping you from making a better golf swing!

****If working out is something you do, or are planning to do, I highly, highly, highly recommend finding a trainer or physical therapist that knows golf specific training!!!!  You may have to drive a few hours, but I promise it is worth it!!! 

Imagine There’s No Down in a Golf Swing

It’s pretty hard to do…… (*anybody got a song stuck in their head?)

OK, DOWN in a golf swing is often a death move that demands a compensation.  Let me explain.  Gravity pulls downward.  Centrifugal force pulls outward.  As the arms and club fall AND pull outward in the downswing, the arms actually should get longer.  It’s one of the factors that leads to a proper divot.  If your concept of the golf swing involves pulling or striking DOWN at the ball, the club will be pulled off it’s arc.  Without a compensation, you cannot hit solid golf shots consistently. 

A pulling down of the club also guarantees that the core(body) will be displaced.  Newton’s 3rd law of physics explains that a pulling down with the arms will cause the core to slow down, move back and begin to pivot around a floating or back axis…..  Again, without compensations, you cannot predict how the shot will come off. 

THE GREAT NEWS is that GRAVITY and CENTRIFUGAL FORCE work!!!  The club will fall at an accelerating rate, and if the body is free to pivot fully around the forward pivotal axis, centrifugal force will help sling the arms and club on a predictable arc THROUGH THE GOLF BALL (assuming correct ball position)!!!!! 

It does not need to take any physical effort to bring the club down and through the ball….

…. In the next post, I’ll explain how many athletes can have success using their muscles.  It can work, but it’s way harder than necessary!

Slo-Mo and It’s Destructive Force in Golf

WARNING:  Watching a slow motion golf swing can be hazardous to your golf……

I get so frustrated when I go to you tube to try to find an illustrative golf swing.  You see, the laws of physics allow a swing to work.  You can sometimes see these laws occurring in a normal speed swing, but almost never in a slow motion swing….  
So OK, there is a time or two where an occasional slow motion swing is OK to look at or analyze….  but it’s very limited.  
Slow Motion is a destructive force in golf because it completely overwhelms the golfing world.  You’ll find 20 slo-mo videos for every one regular speed swing.  That is a KILLER!!!
Why, because the only reason to look at slo-mo is to ANALYZE.  We look at slow motion to study specific positions that golfers reach (naturally and through tons of practice and the laws of physics) and then THINK about moving the club into those positions….   
*We do not learn to walk, ride a bike, tie our shoes, etc… through video analysis!  We learn through the bodies sensory systems!!! We CAN and do learn sport through the same system! Somewhere, golf has become an engineering problem, rather than a sport.  
Video has it’s place, no doubt (some visual learning can take place, and it has a huge entertainment value for golfers….).  In general though, video and slow-mo (more specifically) has thrusted the golf world down the wrong path of learning.  Over the last 20 years, as we understand more and more about the way we learn, we have also improved video technology and that ‘cool’ factor has kept the main stream golf media and teaching from going to more athletic/natural learning….  
That is destructive for the long term learning prospects of most golfers.* 
This is a venting blog.  I feel better now.  
PLAY GOLF.  DO GRAVITY DRILLS.  Stay away from the destructive, yet alluring pull of THINKING GOLF SWING.  
*(In fairness, a few of the most talented, most dedicated, and those with enough resources WILL benefit from this technology)

It Always Comes Back to a Balanced Followthru

So I’ve been thinking a bit about the golf swing…  It’s been a while since I’ve written specifically about it.  (I have written pretty extensively on it in previous posts, so feel free to check them out or re-read them!)

What can I write about that will have the biggest impact for my students? (I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts, by the way…)

It always comes back to a balanced followthrough around the forward pivotal axis.  I’m still watching my students finish inconsistently….  Ask yourself if your finish is fully rotated, relaxed, and balanced on the forward pivotal axis with tremendous consistency….  If not, why aren’t you working on it?

As you are watching the PGA Tour Championship this weekend, watch the different swings of the top 30 golfers….  Then watch what they all seem to have in common.  TREMENDOUS skills of a rotated, relaxed balanced finish. 

Of course there are other parts of the swing that are important, but balance at the end is a basic PRE-REQUISITE.   No matter where else you focus on in your swing, it must end consistently and correctly. 

I’m reminding you to notice on the range and on the course.  I’m reminding you to focus on it… I’m reminding you to improve it!   

Summary:   After a core dominated takeaway, the tension leaves the arms, back and shoulders as the arms and club SWING on their own momentum into the backswing….  As the momentum begins to run out of the back, arms and club, the mass of the body seamlessly falls back into the FORWARD PIVOTAL AXIS due to gravity and the arms and club fall into the downswing plane.  Once a golfer has hit the forward pivotal axis correctly and deflected into the counterfall (this all can and should happen automatically), he/she simply rotates around that axis fully and freely.  Centrifugal force and gravity sling the arms and club on a predictable path through the ball, sending out on a tangent to the swing arc….  Said golfer finishes fully rotated, relaxed, and balanced on the FORWARD PIVOTAL AXIS. 

No strike.  No hit.  No steering.  The ball gets in the way of the swing!

How About That?

Just want to let everyone know how PATRIOTS DAY weekend went here at Carolina Colours Golf Club. 

We raised a few hundred dollars with a tournament and by accepting donations at the counter… Terrific. 

We raised $2,000 through a valiant attempt at a GOLF MARATHON! 

I’m simply blown away by the generosity of this crowd (this crowd being YOU, of course!)

Even though I was unable to make the Marathon happen, most everyone sent in checks to show their support! 

Clearly, this was about a fantastic foundation (THE FOLDS OF HONOR).  You are proud of our military, as am I.  I am also humbled by your generosity. 

Thank you all for the support. 

Tossing ‘A Bomb’….

The Belly-Putter is all the rage these days.  

Watching young professionals putt fantastically with the Belly-Putter is throwing the media into a frenzy!
It’s unintended marketing genius!!!
A Belly-Putter in a great putters hand is very similar to Taylor Made giving the R-11 driver to Dustin Johnson and Camilo Villegas.  
Why are we falling for this one so hard?
…..To be continued

Putting Advice

“Thinking the way you have always thought will almost certainly assure that you will putt the way you have always putted.” -Dr. Bob Rotella

I made a decision in 1993 that I was a good putter.  Since then, I have been a good putter.  Even through a bout with the yips, I made a good deal of putts, and more importantly, my belief kept me putting with confidence and training in the very best ways. 

There is nothing much worse than listening to someone complain about their putting…  It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. 

Golfers should not seek lessons because their putting is bad. It almost never works, and more likely, they find new ways to convince themselves that they are not good putters…. 

They should train, research and take lessons to get better.  There is a huge difference in attitude between the two.  

The answer should always be; “My putting is getting better.” or “Next time the putts will go in.”

Poor training and Lack of training are about the only excuse for poor putting.  A bad mind set is too easy to change.  It should NEVER be the reason for putting poorly. 

Decide! 

Learning The Rules of Golf

I received a comment on an ‘easier way’ to learn the rules of golf. 

Susan, that’s a great question.  Yes, there are several books, some simple videos, and even some laminated placards that you can purchase that go over the basic rules. 

I particularly like “Golf Rules Quick Reference”, by Yves C. Ton-That. 

These guides can help you get ‘the basics’ down a little faster, and are well organized.

*Attend any rules seminars given at your club! 

Unfortunately, in most cases, even the quick reference book or laminated card won’t get you out of the situation you find yourself in during a tournament!  The situation you find yourself in is either not covered in the simple rules, or it’s just as hard to find and understand at that moment! 

Learning the rules is WAY EASIER than learning a language, but to truly get a grasp of the rules, the learning process is eerily similar. 

So for the golf novice, look for a simple book, laminated card, or video to help with the rules…. As you get more serious, spend some time with that little white book!

LEARNING THE RULES OF GOLF:

PGA professionals learn the rules in the following ways:

*We study the rules book enough to understand how it is laid out.  We learn how to use it to find specific rules

*We study and understand the definitions given at the beginning of the book. Without a clear understanding of the terminology, learning the rules will always seem complicated

*We study and try to memorize the order of the 30+ rules in the book (I say try, because I’ve remembered and forgotten the order several times… but have a basic idea as to where to find most rulings and know how to use the index at the front of the book.)

*We immerse ourselves in golf.  One of the keys to learning the rules of golf, is being around golf…   Play a lot, and listen to other golfers discuss the rules! 

Like learning a language, it’s almost impossible to dabble around and learn much.  Like learning a language, the more you memorize grammar, and immerse yourself in the ‘DOING’, the better you’ll get. 

****Most important! Don’t be afraid of the LITTLE WHITE BOOK!  Spend some time figuring out the flow of the book.  It’s extremely well written and efficient in it’s lay out. 

****REMEMBER GOOGLE!  Get on the internet and simply type in your rules question!  It’s a great resource! 

The Importance of Stroke play Comptetition

I certainly play golf for fun.  I enjoy 2-4 person teams, 2 off the first tee and ‘gimmies’.  I’m all for PLAYING GOLF FAST, and if that means taking an illegal drop from the woods rather than going back to the tee as required by the rules of golf…. terrific.  (Of course, after that illegal drop, the player is ‘out’ of that particular hole)

But I also believe it is very important for all golfers to at least experience individual stroke play competition.  
We just had the first Club Championship here at Carolina Colours Golf Club.  We’ve got quite a few golfers that have very little experience in individual stroke play competition.  In today’s world of golf, most events people play in are geared more for fun, than individual competition.  If you have a bad hole, or two or three…. other players on your team can come to your rescue….
The downside of all these FUN games, is that golfers do not learn the REAL RULES OF GOLF.  
The most educational comment I heard over the weekend was how interesting it was to have to play ‘by the rules’….  
Golfers ABSOLUTELY should know the basic rules of golf.  They should know drops.  Free drops from obstructions and ground under repair.  Penalty drops from unplayable lies and hazards. Golfers should understand the benefits of hitting a provisional for a lost ball and what can and can’t be moved around your golf ball.  
By playing in INDIVIDUAL stroke play events, golfers will inevitably be put into situations that demand a knowledge of the basic rules.  It can often be stressful and frustrating…  At first it may even seem complicated. 
The upside is a better understanding of the rules of golf.  There is nothing like being IN A SITUATION in order to learn.  
By knowing the rules, a whole new world of golf open ups for you.  You can play your fun games, you can take your ‘gimmies’ and bend the rules in your team games…. But now you KNOW what’s right and what’s wrong.  You’ll KNOW when you are ‘in’ a hole, or ‘out’ of a hole.  You’ll be able to guide your teammates and fellow competitors.  
The rules of golf are fantastic.  They are extremely well written, and more often HELP a golfer rather than penalize.  Know them.  Play in tournaments a few times a year that put the rules in play, and you’ll be better off for it!