Fix Your Faults in the Gym

Over the past decade or so golf has moved in a whole new direction in terms of how a player's physical conditioning directly affects their performance, both in ball striking terms and consistency and durability. At the top of the game, Tiger Woods' dominance revolutionised the relationship between golf and physiology.

Today, Rory McIlroy has transformed himself from a chubby teenager into a tremendous athlete with two majors to his name, and the likes of Dustin Johnson have gained big advantages through their athletic prowess. As the 6'4" American himself said in a recent issue of Golf Digest, "if you want to play modern golf at the top level, you'd better get in the gym or you're going to get lapped!"

For the top tour pros, golf fitness is an integral part of their daily routines, but increasingly, an understanding of the methods used to work specific muscle groups are finding their way into mainstream coaching. Golf academies all over the world are now appreciating the need for this information to help transform their students' games, not only by lowering handicaps but by helping to increase the body's durability and reduce the chance of injury.

For this feature I teamed up with the Dubai Creek's FitLab fitness professional, Ashleigh Pawley, who was keen to show me how focusing on strengthening and conditioning can act as a remedy to common swing faults. You can see a common swing fault among amateurs and professionals alike illustrated on the opposite page. At the top of
the swing, when the body should be fully coiled, it is clear my left knee has collapsed inwards, causing my hips to fall out of position and in more extreme cases, causing the upper body to tilt towards the target. As this is in fact one of my own flaws, I can say from experience that the problem arises mostly with the longer clubs and can cause the ball to literally move in any direction. Why? Because if the lower body is unstable, overrotated or out of position at the top of the backswing, it simply cannot transfer the power, or turn through to the left side efficiently, causing unwanted manipulation of the clubface by the hands.

THE FAULT

April1

In the second image, following a brief training session with Ashleigh, you can clearly see I am working on something a little different. Ashleigh was able to help me identify the root cause of the fault by putting me through a few simple strength and flexibility tests. The workout itself, as with all fitness related goals, will need time to impact my natural golf swing. However, by identifying the weakness in my physiology that was causing the issues in the lower body, together we were able to utilise a simple resistance band to help provide me with a feeling of engaging the very same muscles I had just worked on in the Fit Lab.

As you can see in the image below, I have tied the band around my legs, tight enough so that when I assume my normal stance, my knees are pushing outwards to keep the band taut. From here, I make my backswing and resist the natural force of the band trying to relax and bring my knees together.

THE FIX
April2

This creates an amazing feeling of the lower body being grounded, firm and more coiled in the backswing.

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