Going through the process of becoming a certified PGA professional is not a quick task. We are required to go through 4 levels of apprenticeship over 4 years. During this time we would review different aspects of the golf industry and then be tested on the subject. Each test would warrant a PDF file that contained anywhere from 150 to 250 pages or so. We were expected to study the PDF file and take a test on pass/fail basis. There were 17 tests total over the four years. Out of all the information that was exposed to me during this time there was only a half of a page on the PDF file pg 88 for Introduction to Teaching and Golf Club Performance that defines the properties that affect clubhead speed. These human variables are that follows:
- Physical Strength
- Body Flexibility/ Mobility
- Swing Technique
- Leverages (height, lever lengths)
- Neuromuscular Coordination
All of these properties contribute relatively the same amount to a golfers club head speed. Obviously, the specific contribution from each property may be a little different from person to person but due to the fact that there are enormous amount variables to compare it makes more sense to improve them equally. If any of these properties were to change in a favorable way, the golfer will have more clubhead speed. If any of these properties were to change in a less favorable way, the golfer will have less clubhead speed.
In order to be as efficient as possible , a golfer should determine which properties need work and do his or her best to improve them. First we should eliminate the properties that cannot be changed. Starting with Leverages, it is no secret that an individual cannot influence their height or the length of their arms and legs. The only way to possibly influence a golfers leverage in a favorable way is by using longer clubs. Obviously, I do not recommend this tactic simply because changing the length of ones clubs would significantly effect their technique and most likely cause the golfer to be less accurate. The second factor that cannot be trained is Neuromuscular Coordination. Neuromuscular Coordination can be defined as a person’s ability to activate muscles in the most efficient way possible. Think of a person who is just naturally quick, fast, or able to jump high. Neuromuscular Coordination is very important in the world of athletics and golf is no exception. The best way to assess this attribute is by judging a person’s standing vertical leap. The reason the vertical leap is used is because it is influenced by a very small amount of factors. A very little amount of technique is required and the test is adjusted for everybody based on height and arm length. A vertical leap can be improved a little bit over time but for the most part your leap is what it is. The only exception is if an individual were to lose a significant amount of weight. They will most likely have a much better vertical at a lower body weight. The weight loss does not make the person more neurollaly efficient, but they are able to jump higher because they have to move less excess weight. It should be said males normally have better Neuromuscular Coordination than females. Most of the time; even if a man and a women have similar technique, a similar amount of muscle mass, and a similar amount of mobility/flexibility the man hits the ball further. Unfortunately, Neuromuscular Coordination is largely genetic and cannot be trained. Doctors such as Andy Galphin and many others are researching ways to overcome this fact by studying muscle fibers, but for right now I would say centering a program around Neuromuscular Coordination would be largely inefficient.
Aside from Leverages and Neuromuscular Coordination the other 3 properties can be influenced. The most common and most efficient way to increase clubhead speed is by improving a golfers Swing Technique. There are multiple ways to improve a golfer’s technique that add club head speed. Some ways include establishing more “width” or influencing a golfers rhythm, but I would say the most important aspect of a golfers technique is the establishment of a proper swing sequence. This means during the downswing the golfer starts towards the ball with legs then hips then core then shoulders and finally the arms. Doing this creates what is called “lag” in the golf swing and allows the clubhead to be released in a whipping motion. Not only does a good swing sequence allow the golfer to increase there clubhead speed but it also fixes many problems upstream related to contact and accuracy. Swing technique should be practiced with the club in hand and the golf swing in mind. There is a growing amount of “movement specialist” or “motion gurus” out there that will try to convince you otherwise. These specialist will insist that the golfer should perform exercises that apply no stress but teach movement that can be applied to the golf swing. While golfers can see progress using these tactics, the tactics would be quicker and more efficient if they just practiced the correct movements with a club in hand on the driving range.
I have briefly explained a few ways a golfer can improve their golf games by using traditional methods on the golf course, however the main point of this writing is to explain to the competitive golfer what they should do off the golf course to lower their scores. Leaving aside any mental practice that can help a golfer’s psychologically, the only way to do this is by influencing the last two properties of a golfers clubhead speed Mobility and Physical Strength. Mobility can be influenced in a short amount of time in the gym, on the course, or in the comfort of one’s own home. Physical Strength however, should be improved in a gym. Assuming a golfers mobility is practiced in other areas, a golfers main priority should be to get stronger when entering the gym . This is not to say a golfer cannot be successful if they do not prioritize physical strength, it is to say if a golfer goes to the gym consistently without the main priority being strength they are doing it wrong.