Not so long ago, the terms “golf” and “fitness” rarely appeared in the same sentence. Nowadays, the game of golf has become synonymous with words like strength, power, agility, mobility, balance and endurance. Golf has become a physical activity like never before.
Fitness trainers suggest golfers spend two or three days a week in the gym. Ken Shigley, a Titleist performance coach in Atlanta, says, “Without the fitness aspect of improving the game, golfers will always be playing catch-up with their more fitness-conscious partners and opponents.
At West Coast Golf Academy in Oregon, Matt Preston, the facility’s performance director, engages every new student in an initial fitness assessment. Not only are the student’s technical golf skills assessed, but Preston puts his new clients through a series of physical tasks and drills that provide valuable data on the student’s physical strengths, as well as their shortcomings, information that he and his fellow PGA professionals use to create an individualized development plan for each student.
Preston says understanding his student’s goals is also very important in creating a plan for future golf lessons and fitness sessions. Based on the information from the initial fitness assessment, your fitness coach and PGA Professional will help you develop achievable and measurable goals that will form the framework for this exciting new endeavor. Such early engagement also lays the foundation for long-term relationships between teachers and students.
It is important to look at full-body movement in an initial fitness assessment to isolate recent injuries, conditions, or limitations the student is experiencing in their mobility, often before they even hit a golf ball. .
“Without an anatomical plan, there’s a very good chance you’ll compound an existing impairment, increasing the imbalance and creating a situation where the potential for injury increases dramatically,” says Bob Forman, Carolina Health and Fitness Director. North. He says he’s wary of programs that don’t offer this initial component.
Initial fitness assessments vary in length, typically between 45 minutes and two hours. Some, like Preston’s, incorporate golf instructors; while others are conducted solely by the fitness trainer and/or physiotherapist, if there is one on hand.
Here is a general list of factors that will be measured to ensure safe physical fitness and emphasis on integrating body strengths into the golf swing:
X-Factor – aka Disassociation (the separate movement of the upper and lower body during the golf swing)
Range of motion in the middle of the back
Internal rotation of the hip
Hip flexor/hamstring/calf flexibility
PGA golf professionals, fitness trainers and physical therapists further their knowledge through training opportunities and certifications offered by organizations such as the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI).
As industry leaders understand the importance of golf fitness and the initial fitness assessment, their task now is to share this education and educate their students and potential new customers.