Q: from Jeff M.: Does your personal strength relate to how far you hit the ball?
A: Thanks for the question Jeff. At first blush the answer to this question seems obvious, but as they say “it ain’t necessarily so!”
First of all, you can play golf at a very high level without necessarily committing to weight training – although I’m a staunch advocate of fitness. For some, their time might be better spent working on swing technique. Personally, I do believe in progressive resistance training for any gender at any age. The benefits are not only physical, but also mental – in that being fit and strong builds your confidence, and that spills over into your golf game.
There are many factors that apply to distance such as squareness of contact, swing path, angle of descent, your equipment, your release, etc. but I’m pretty sure the question relates to the relationship of strength to swing speed, so I’ll answer it in that context.
I’m also going to mention that the preponderance of fast twitch fibers in your body structure gives anyone a dynamic strength advantage over someone who has a preponderance of slow twitch muscle fibers, but that’s as far as I’m going in that direction – but choosing the right parents definitely helps.
There are couple of types of strength that apply to this answer, static strength and dynamic strength.
If you lift for strength and fitness, using the tried and true Watkins and DeLorme Progressive Resistance Exercise model of 3 sets of 10 reps with slow and steady movements, you would acquire excellent static strength, some dynamic strength, and an improved physique.
The only problem is that you would also gain some weight, which would inhibit swing speed purely because of the weight, even though it’s “good” weight.
You can counter that body weight by implementing a swing speed training program like the one here.
For your strength training to be most beneficial for golf for the time you will spend at it, I would advise a static strength training program in the early and mid winter, then a dynamic strength training program in the early spring as well as sporadically in season, and sporadic swing speed training in season.
You develop dynamic strength by doing exercises plyometrically. Plyometrics is exercise training whose aim is to produce fast and powerful movements, and likewise improve the nervous system involved in these activities. The principle applies to body weight exercises as well as weight training.
Here’s an example: if you did a standard pushup, lowering yourself down deliberately then pushing up deliberately until your arms were extended, that would be a static pushup. A pretty decent strength builder for a beginner.
If, however, you let yourself drop to the floor rapidly, then pushed up so dynamically that you could clap your hands (the old Marine Corps pushup), that pushup would have been done plyometrically. One of my former players, Kyle Harmon, who now plays for Daemen College, actually makes his whole body spring up off the ground when he does plyometric pushups, which is an extremely dynamic movement. It’s no coincidence that he beats the cover off the ball.
When you train plyometrically you have to be very careful to not injure yourself. Dynamic exercises are by definition more explosive, so the chances for injury are greater if you overdo any aspect.
So yes, strength matters, but if you are going to spend time training make it efficient.
There are loads of good plyometric exercise sites out there – just google “Plyometric Exercises” – and give it a shot if you are in that frame of mind.
It’s a great way to train as long as it’s done carefully.
Love your practice, enjoy your golf,