Upgrade Your Body Before Upgrading Your Clubs
by Cuyler Hudson, DPT, PT, FAFS
Outfitting yourself with new golf clubs can sometimes be as enjoyable as playing the game itself. Buying a new club is filled with the promise of instant gains in distance, accuracy, and more fun on the course. I, myself, am currently having a hard time resisting the urge to buy the new Ping G425 driver after hitting a buddy’s this past weekend. However, as fun as these shiny new toys are, you have to ask yourself how much you are really gaining with the investment in new clubs. At MOST, you’re looking at 5-10 yards further, a few hundred RPM’s increase in spin, and maybe an extra fairway hit per round.
I’m here to tell you the MUCH better investment for a more enjoyable golf experience is an investment in your body, here’s why:
No matter what club you are using, your performance on the golf course is going to come down to
1) how hard you can swing the club
2) squaring the face at impact
Even using a club blessed by the ghost of Arnold Palmer isn’t going to change that.
Now, the technology in new golf clubs can absolutely help a little bit with these two factors, but you know what helps a whole lot more? Improving your strength and fixing your movement deficits!
Even taking lessons from a golf pro can end up being a waste of time if you simply don’t have the ability to move how they are asking you to. For example, a very common swing fault people have is a steep angle of attack. A golf pro might ask you to shallow out your swing, but it’s pretty impossible to have a more shallow swing if you can’t rotate your thoracic spine and ribcage well. You could also be someone who can’t generate swing speed by creating separation or “lag” between your pelvis and ribcage. This is going to happen because you don’t have the appropriate control of your pelvis and can’t change its shape as you move through the swing phases. This isn’t going to change by just having someone tell you to do it. Very often the reason people develop these swing faults is because of a lack of mobility or stability somewhere in the kinetic chain. These need to be addressed BEFORE you even have the ability to change your swing pattern.
Lastly, is the most important ability in the game of golf…availability. An estimated 30% of amateur golfers will develop low back pain that causes them to stop playing at some point. The low back is the crossroad between your pelvis and thoracic spine/ribcage. It’s almost always going to be the victim of a movement problem either up the chain or below. If you can identify these problems and address them, you can save yourself the pain of watching your buddy’s golf instagram stories with envy as you sit at home with a sore back.
To clarify, I’m not suggesting you turn into Bryson and workout multiple times and crush 4 protein shakes a day. Spending 30 minutes 2-3x per week working on things is plenty enough to see big improvements. But it is important that you find a movement professional who is familiar with the golf swing, and can come up with a plan tailored to your needs. Working on your body is not always as fun and exciting as buying new clubs, but it is much more effective at improving your performance and your longevity.