Fitter means better Golf
Research conducted at the renowned Titleist Performance Institute over the last decade has consistently shown that top golfers possess the following characteristics:
- Greater mobility
- Greater strength
- Greater power
- More efficient sequencing during their swing
Further, recent studies have also shown that top golfers display different underlying physical characteristics to the ordinary golfer. For example a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh recently showed that top golfers (scratch golfers, a handicap of < 0) displayed certain physical characteristics separating them for mid to high handicappers (1-9 and 10-20). They found that better golfers had:
- Greater hip, torso and shoulder strength
- Greater hip, torso and shoulder flexibility
- Greater balance
Another study examining the relationship between physical characteristics and various elements of golf performance found that core strength and stability, flexibility and balance and peripheral muscle strength are all related with better golf performance. Further, a recent study compared anthropometric characteristics and performance measurements between low and high handicap golfers. The study examined ten high (~20.3) and ten low (~0.3) handicappers and assessed their club head velocity and accuracy using a 5 iron club. The findings of this study showed that Golfers with high golf specific rotation strength and greater bench press and longer arms may be at a competitive advantage. These were the characteristics that were associated with the production of greater club head velocity and ball displacement.
Support for the link between physical performance and golf performance.
Numerous studies have looked at the effects of improving those traits that are associated with better golf. For example, if being stronger more flexible and more stable is associated with better golfers then it is reasonable to assume that by improving these fitness traits (strength, flexibility and stability) golf performance may improve. Further, those who play and teach golf are beginning to realise, if they have not done so already, that training for strength, flexibility and balance and stability may assist in driving the ball further, improving swing efficiency and in reducing the risk of injury during practice and play.
Several studies are available to show that players who complete a physical conditioning programme can improve not only in general conditioning but most importantly in golfing performance. The studies show that players can make gains in club head speed, and as a consequence driving distance, and also in putting control distance.