In most sports, the stronger you are the more power you will generate – which usually means the better you will be. Of course each sport requires a specific skill too – not just power. However, in the game of golf, your most valued physical asset is not necessarily strength – it’s flexibility. The two go hand in hand and we’re going to take a look at both of them.
Strength – simply defined as being “strong” and having the power to perform demanding tasks – does not necessarily lend itself well to the golf swing. Look at any of the best golf swings on the PGA Tour and you will see a fluid movement – not a jerky “strong” motion. While these players are definitely “fit” – they don’t look like body-builders. In fact, you’ll never see a body builder on the PGA Tour because they probably aren’t very flexible.
In order to hit a golf ball far, proper strength to lift the golf club around your shoulders is definitely required – however once that threshold is reached, it’s flexibility that takes over from there. Your flexibility determines such things as the ability to turn your shoulders against the turn of your hips. It determines how well you can hold your posture position during impact. It also determines how good your balance is throughout the swing.
Flexibility’s biggest role in the golf swing is to prevent injury. Most injuries in golf can be traced to inflexibility. Common areas are the back, hamstrings, shoulders, and neck. When these areas of the body are inflexible, and a golfer tries to swing a club at full-force, the muscles and tendons tighten causing painful injury. Being flexible in these areas can help a golfer to reduce injury, increase balance, swing faster, and hit the ball further.
One of the biggest tasks a personal trainer on the PGA Tour does every week is to stretch their players thoroughly before AND after the round. This emphasis on flexibility is to prevent injury, keep muscles loose, and reduce the buildup of lactic acid after workouts.
Not to discredit lifting weights and working out, but make sure that stretching is a big part of your workout routine. For golf, long and lean muscles are better than short and tight muscles. Get in the habit of stretching every day or see a personal trainer about creating a workout program explicitly for you. You’ll feel better and your swing will reflect it too.