[Editor's Note: The following article was written by Todd Casabella, Director of Instruction at Grey Hawk Golf Club in Lagrange. Todd is a member of the Professional Golfers' Association of America and a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor.]
Football is in full swing and the leaves are starting to turn colors. Fall is here. Some golfers will put the clubs away soon, if they haven’t all ready. Others will play on the occasional warm day until the snow covers the ground. What ever type of golf you are, I would like to issue you a challenge to play your best golf in 2012. To accomplish this won’t require hitting a single golf ball and will take about 3 hours a week. That’s less than an 18-hole round of golf. I’m talking about improving your fitness. WAIT, DON”T STOP READING! I’m not talking about Tony Horton; hit the gym, P90X style of fitness. I’m talking about functional fitness and I’m encouraging you to identify your body’s limitations and to take the action to correct them.
A golf swing is only as strong as the golfer’s weakest link. The most pivotal link for generating clubhead speed is the transfer of energy from the lower body to the upper body. If you have poor hip mobility or core strength you’re limited to how much speed you can create. If you are unable to touch your toes, perform an overhead deep squat or move your hips independently of your shoulders, you are losing distance and accuracy from your physical limitations.
Of the golfer’s I teach the vast majority have some type of physical limitation that is creating swing faults. Some of these faults may just prevent them from playing their best. Some faults might create injuries and keep them from playing at all. I would encourage every golfer to go through a physical evaluation and begin a program. By beginning a training program, you’re not only improving your ability to play better but to play longer and injury free.
A successful training program should address cardiorespiratory endurance, postural imbalances, golf specific strength, functional flexibility, balance, motor learning and nutrition. This may seem like a lot but if you break it down into the three main components your daily routine would look something like this: 20 minutes on an elliptical, 20 minutes of stretching that focuses on your flexibility needs and 20 minutes of strength training for stability. A personal trainer who understands golf should be able to design a program for you. If you’re unable to work with a personal trainer, try a yoga and pilates class. Both make you stronger, more flexible and improve balance.
The winter is the perfect time to work on improving your fitness. If you do, when the weather breaks, your body will be ready to go for a great 2012.