Body talk

Personal trainer and fitness columnist Shawn O’Neil on how your body is influencing your golf swing

I’ve written a lot about the processes which lead to getting fitter for golf, and how to get into a better position to play well over the last few editions. I’ve also looked at the benefits of increased distance and its direct correlation with lower scores, and how being stronger and more mobile reduces injuries and helps prolong golfing careers.

Building on those concepts, let’s look at how your body may be affecting your golf swing and how body limitations can be the cause of swing faults – with some quick tests you can do at home.

In our first example, let’s look at players who swing the club over the top. If you have this swing fault, try standing in front of a mirror and crossing your arms with each hand touching the opposite shoulder. From here, can you rotate your pelvis left and right continuously without any upper body rotation or lateral movement? If you can’t do this, it makes it highly unlikely you will be able to change that over the top move with swing work alone.

For our second example, let’s look at players who sway or slide too much in the swing with two tests which look at how you create a deep hip turn through adequate internal hip rotation and good lower stability. First, place a golf club across your hips, move your left foot slightly back and elevate the heel so your toes are still on the floor for balance. Keeping your right foot planted (no splay/roll) turn as far as you can into your right hip, keeping the club on your hip bones. Has the shaft turned 60-degrees from where it started? Next, stand on one leg, raise your knee up to 90-degrees, and close your eyes. Can you hold this position for 15 seconds? If the answer to both of these is no (I’ve seen more than 100 golfers try this and only three have passed the first test in their assessment) then the hip turn you’re working so hard on is not going to be achievable.

These are two of the most prominent issues I see, but there are many more which could be holding back your progress. Fortunately, more coaches are becoming aware of these limitations and should be able to identify issues and point you in the right direction to develop your body in a way which leads to measurable progress in your golf game.

Identifying the limitations which are holding back your swing could be the best thing you ever do for your game, so don’t underestimate what a TPI assessment can do for you.