Every once in a while there is a discovery, or technological breakthrough, in the game of golf that truly makes the game more enjoyable for everyone. Some examples are the modern golf ball, and the new hybrid golf clubs that make hitting out of the rough as easy as cutting through a stick of butter. Yes, these are all wonderful advances in equipment and golf technology. But in reality, are these breakthroughs really making us better golfers, or just simply making it easier for us to hit golf shots with the same old golf swing; a swing less efficient than what we are actually capable of executing?
Over the last decade, since the arrival of Tiger Woods, has come a new outlook on the game of golf. PGA and LPGA Tour Professionals are now recognized as pure athletes, as apposed to just golfers. Golf fitness has truly become one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of the game. It’s great for golfers and great for the game.
Golf Fitness Magazine and its team of advisors continues to offer you the latest and greatest in golf-specific fitness to help you maximize your potential and further understand your body, in an effort to improve your golf game. Here we would like to offer you an opportunity to test yourself to see where you are in terms of your current physical fitness level. The following is a physical assessment screening that you can perform on your own or with a partner. This test will not necessarily tell you what you are capable of during a golf swing, but will instead help you recognize what you may be incapable of, and what faults this may cause throughout your swing. This knowledge is vital for many reasons, one being to reveal your body’s ability to produce a mechanically correct golf swing.
OVERHEAD DEEP SQUAT TEST
This test will help you measure the overall mobility in your legs, ankles, shoulders and spine. If you are unable to perform this test, it is likely that you will not be able to maintain your spine angle throughout your down-swing. The natural tendency is to thrust your hips toward the ball at the start of the downswing, thus pulling yourself up and out of the shot.
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, and toes pointing forward, hold a golf club directly over your head so the club is parallel with your shoulders.
- Squat down as far as possible, keeping your heels flat on the ground and the golf club directly over your head.
- To pass the Overhead Deep Squat Test you must be able to squat down far enough so that your legs are parallel with the ground, while continuing to look forward and keeping the golf club overhead.
STRAIGHT LEG RAISE TEST
This test measures the mobility in your hamstrings and lower back, but can also detect certain problems or stiffness in your hips which can limit a proper set up for your full swing shot or putting stroke. If you are unable to perform this test, you will not be able to maintain your posture (body angles) throughout your swing which will make it difficult to keep the club on plane.
- Lie on your back, with both legs and your head flat on the ground. Have a partner place a driver shaft, perpendicular to the ground, on the outside of your right leg, halfway between your hip and knee.
- Pull your toes toward you and proceed to lift your leg, keeping your knee straight. (Your head, hips and left leg should remain flat on the floor. A golf ball can be placed under your left knee, which will prevent you from moving your hips or back). Complete this motion three times.
- You’ve passed this test if your ankle is able to lift up to, or past, the driver.
- Repeat this test with your left leg.
PELVIC TILT TEST
This test measures the range of motion in your lower back, and reveals your capacity to engage your abs and glute muscles. To transfer power from your lower body to your upper body in the golf swing, the ability to control your pelvis is imperative for power in your swing and limiting the chances of injury to your lower back.
Begin this test by getting yourself into a golf posture, arms across your chest, and your back in a neutral or flat position.
- Once you have established a neutral starting position, begin tilting your pelvis forward, arching your lower back as far as possible without moving your head.
- Upon completion of this movement, tilt your pelvis backward as far as possible, removing the arch in your lower back.
- You have passed this test if you are able to move your pelvis back and forth in a smooth manner. If there is shaking while moving in either direction, it is a tell-tale sign that you are not using certain muscles on a daily basis that are vital in performing a golf swing.
HALF-KNEELING ROTATION TEST
This test measures the overall flexibility between your upper and lower body, along with your core stability. Having good separation between your upper and lower body facilitates greater speed and power in your golf swing. Limited separation can result in a number of swing faults including too much lateral movement (sway or slide) and loss of posture.
- Criss-cross two golf clubs at a 90-degree angle, so that it looks as though you have made four 45-degree angles with them.
- Squat over the criss-crossed golf clubs on your right knee, with your left foot and knee creating as straight a line as possible, one in front of the other.
- Place another golf club in the center of your back, locked in with your elbows.
- From this position, keeping your head facing forward, attempt to rotate your shoulders to the left.
- If you are able to rotate far enough to cross one of the 45-degree lines, you have passed the test.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
SINGLE LEG BALANCE TEST
This test measures your ability to stay balanced throughout your golf swing. If you are unable to perform this test, it is likely you will have difficulty holding a balanced finish position and will be limited in the amount of force you can apply to the golf ball while maintaining good fundamentals.
- Stand facing forward, raising one leg off of the ground about 10 inches, arms at your side.
- Once you feel comfortable and stable in this position, close your eyes while maintaining a stable, balanced position.
- You have passed this test if you are able to stay balanced with hands by your side and eyes closed for at least 25 seconds.