Having spent a lifetime in golf, including a few decades teaching the game, I’ve come to the conclusion that golfers want to either hit the ball farther or become more consistent (or both). Of the two, my experience has shown me that the majority of golfers would opt for greater distance, especially as they enter senior status and deeper into “The Back Nine of Life.” The question then remains, “What does hitting the ball farther entail?” Let’s first take a look at the formula for power: Mass x Velocity2. What this means is, the more mass (which comes from how solid you contact the ball) combined with how much force (generated from the body) moves through the clubhead into the ball. The result is distance.
As you can see in the photos, the golfer on the left doesn’t shift his weight and rotate through the ball, but rather gets stuck at the ball. In other words, instead of creating any speed by way of shifting his weight and rotating his hips, he’s unable to generate any speed with his arms. The obvious problem here is that he is too tight throughout his body, especially in his hips. Not only do his muscles not flow together, he’s not strong enough in his legs. Although the legs don’t hit the ball, they must be strong to maintain a stable platform for the upper body to turn against, thereby creating torque. Simply by walking for thousands of miles in their careers, professional golfers “naturally” develop tree trunks for legs. Combined with their superb upper body flexibility, they’re able to create phenomenal kinematic sequencing in which the muscles load and fire.
Most people naturally assume that by getting stronger, they’ll hit the ball further. This may seem obvious, but must be tempered with, for our purposes here, the definition of strong.
When confronted, most people will assume that weightlifters and professional football players are strong, and I agree… from one perspective. But the truth is that many professional football players, particularly the linemen and the linebackers–as well as many power lifters–can’t hit a golf ball out of their shadows. In fact, if you want to see some real choppers and popcorn hitters, watch an NFL charity golf tournament. If these guys are strong, how come so many of them can’t hit the ball anywhere? From this perspective, we’d have to then say that just being “strong” isn’t necessarily the answer.
The reason “most” of these bodybuilder types can’t hit a golf ball any great distance is because the bulky muscles they developed by excessive weight training has actually shortened their muscles, and from my perspective, a muscle that can’t move is a weak muscle.
Therefore, I say that to generate power a golfer must have muscles that can move easily, and with power. To do this we must promote greater flexibility throughout the body, especially the upper torso. Again, a muscle that is flexible and strong is the secret to distance!
I’ve found that when putting a “tight” person on a strengthening program, they will gain strength, but it will also make them tighter. Some trainers will disagree with me and say that a proper resistance program will actually increase flexibility, and to that, I’ll agree. But, I’ve never seen a “proper” resistance program develop more flexibility than a “proper” flexibility program? A proper flexibility program stretches all of the muscles from head to toe by working the individual muscle chains in order.
I suggest that you always work on your flexibility before embarking on a strengthening program. When your muscles are more flexible, you will move with more speed. And more speed means more power!