When I moved to southern California in 2000, my mind was set on improving my golf game, which at that time was quite good. While playing rounds with other golf professionals in the Indian Wells area, comments were often made about my distance with the driver and irons.
I knew I was just stronger than most of the professionals I played with. I also knew that I had great balance and good self-confidence. I practiced almost every day and went to the gym six days per week. Go figure, right?
Around this time, a certain “Mr. Woods” was turning the professional golf world upside down as well, overpowering historic golf courses with his freaky long drives into most fairways. Tiger was in the gym daily, with a trainer, getting much stronger than any other player on the PGA Tour at the time. It amazed me that the other playing pros didn’t seem to get it that they had to hit the gym to keep up with Tiger.
With all that in mind, I began to design a workout program specifically for golfers.1 I’ll share some of that program with you here, covering the basic points. This program was used with some PGA Tour pros in Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells and La Quinta, CA. It does work.
Part One: Strength Training for Specific “Golf “Swing Muscles
As I gave lessons and clinics, it was apparent the human body does not manufacture a consistent golf swing as a basic anatomical movement.
Here is most of the Strength Training part of my program:
1. Wrist curls, elbows resting on ribs, with appropriate weight dumbbells, or weighted bar for men, pronated/supinated. (3 sets 15 reps each).
2. Standing bicep curls (3 sets 15-20 reps). Support your back on a stationary object so you won’t jerk the bar.
3. Standing triceps kickbacks with dumbbells (3 sets 15-20 reps).
4. Push-ups (3 sets 10-15 reps).
5. Torso turns from front sit-up position to weight on back foot and front shoulder behind ball for a 1-2-3 count then into impact area with hips! Arms crossed on shoulders for 3 sets 10-15 reps.
6. Front dumbbell lunges (3 sets 10-15 reps).
7. Slow front dumbbell raise from back knee to front finish position in balance turning torso to front target at finish position (3 sets 10-15 reps).
8. From address position, full swing with light weight, slowly, to balanced finish (3 sets 10-15 reps).
9. Slow toes raises with dumbbells in hand (3 sets 20-25 reps).
10. Front shoulder raises with dumbbells (3 sets 15-20 reps).
11. Side shoulder raises (3 sets 15-20 reps).
Choose at least eight of the exercise above done four to five times a week. In about a month, you should see some pleasant results on the course. Remember folks, “The golf ball can’t exceed 1.62 ounces, or 0.0459kg.” Don’t swing so fast! Your finish position will improve as will the number of fairways you’ll be hitting.
Golf Swing Training, Part Two: A Matter of Balance
Balance, as defined by definitions.net is: “(n.) a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.”1
With the golf swing, balance is of significant importance. Additionally, in just about all our daily activities as humans, balance is in play. As we age, balance fades a bit, requiring some strengthening on our part.
Here are some balance drills easily done in your gym or at home:
1. One foot hand offs to left and right with ball, or light plate. (3 sets 15-20 reps on both feet). Weight varies and you’ll need a partner for this one. Feel your core moving? Good!
2. Uphill/downhill swing drill. To properly align shoulders to terrain your drive landed on put one foot on a stool or ball, then complete smooth, full swing 15-20 times along the proper terrain line. For downhill lies, swing along the plane of the hill you may be on. The reverse applies for uphill lies. Let the club do the work for you. This drill will take practice and may look strange to you at first. The alternative is continuing to hook the ball out of bounds on uphill lies or topping it on the downhill (3 sets of 15 – 20 reps).
3. With empty hands, complete the back swing then, smoothly through the ball to finish position. Hold for 5 second count on front foot (3 sets 10-15 reps). At the finish position notice if your balance has brought you to a position where your torso faces the desired ball flight path. I usually tell people, “It’s hard to put a golf ball where your belly button isn’t facing.”
4. Half swing drill using a light weight, balanced on one foot at a time (3 sets 10-15 reps). This drill will show you more about weight transfer done smoothly from backswing to finish.
5. Heavy ball toss to partner, or off a wall, on one foot then other foot. (3 sets 10-15 reps). When you practice this notice what your front abs are doing on the throw and the catch. I imagine they’ll tighten. I used this to show the importance of your core to good balance.
6. Eyes closed using full swing (light weight 15-20 reps). With both feet down, and both eyes closed, smoothly imitate your golf swing with both eyes closed. Not so difficult was it? Now, place a ball in the proper stance position for a short iron. Using the same smooth swing and eyes closed, hit the golf ball and go to your finish position. This may take some practice so be persistent if you want better swing balance and a lower handicap. No peeking folks.
Once the “eyes closed” drill takes hold, hit some balls on your front foot and back foot keeping your eyes closed. You aren’t swinging so fast anymore are you? Congratulations!
Try all of these drills often. Smooth, powerful, graceful and balanced, from your core, are good mental images for your swing to have.
1. McGinnis, B. Golf Strengthen, stretch, and balance program. Powerpoint presentation.
2. Definitions.net. http://www.definitions.net/definitions/B
About the Author
Bill McGinnis is an NFPT-certified Master Fitness Trainer, and trains exclusively at the University of Texas Medical Branch Alumni Field House on Galveston Island, TX. He has over 25 years in the Fitness Industry, including work as the Men’s Fitness Trainer at the Betty Ford Center and as a Fitness Manager in Southern California. He currently specializes in training older clients for balance, strength, endurance, golf, tennis and an improved quality of life. He can be contacted at [email protected].