Golf is a rotational athletic endeavor, requiring you and your body to balance an accelerated rotational force to transfer the energy you generate with the golf club to the ball at the absolute right time. At least that is what physics tells us — centrifugal force releasing inertial energy in a straight line to your target. Too complicated? Let’s make it a bit simpler for you and focus solely on two words, golf balance.
First, imagine a merry-go-round or a wheel. Your golf swing is a carbon copy of that movement, with a central hub that creates the turn, while the “horses” or the “tire” are moving faster than the center. The difference between these two examples and you is your ability to stay balanced — your equilibrium.
The equilibrium is a very small sack of liquid positioned directly behind the bridge of your nose, keeping you in balance during all your daily experiences, preventing you from falling over at any given moment. Your equilibrium uses your eyes to do most of its work, acquiring a visual horizon to reference its balance. Your visual horizon consists of the different slopes and elevations, tree tops, bushes, roof tops, and other items you see in the distance.
However, when taking your golf posture, you do not see those items, you see the ball and the grass beneath. When addressing a golf ball, you place your equilibrium in a position of disadvantage to its core mission. It now must rely on your feet and your core and what those body parts feel in relation to the rest of your body to ensure you don’t fall over during a golf swing. Any out-of-balance movement detected by your equilibrium as you swing triggers an “auto pilot” response to slow your movement down. And the death blow to any golf swing is deceleration, creating shorter and more errant shots.
Bottom Line: You must to learn to balance your turn throughout the golf swing to ensure the club is accelerating at the moment of impact and improve the chances that the face is centered to the ball and target at that moment.
The Good News: You don’t have to go to the golf course to work on balancing and accelerated turn of your core. You have all the materials at home to do this. It only takes five minutes a day to effectively create a positive change in how fast you can keep your body balanced using your core as the “engine” to your swing. Here are five very simple and efficient drills you can do to teach your body to balance your turn.
BUCKET BRIGADE DRILL
Stand with feet under your shoulders, arms extended in front of you, holding a small bucket of water (do not fill the bucket completely).
Take your golf posture to an imaginary target in your home or backyard (edge of a picture frame, tree trunk, etc.) insuring feet, knees, hips, and shoulders are parallel to each other and you are “Parallel Left” of your intended target (Parallel Right for the Left-handed golfer). Although you are not at the golf course, you always need to reference a target when doing any drill or exercise so your brain and body can correspond that reference to the golf course.
Using only your feet, legs, and core, turn toward your target, as if you were going to hand the bucket of water to someone, without spilling the water.
Hold this position for a count of “5” so your brain and body can not only remember the position, but remember how it got to the position from your set-up position.
Repeat this movement several times in each direction, not just the direction in which you finish your swing. Doing so will properly balance how your body works, and uses sets of muscles equally for each side of your body, something that is important for not only great golf, but a healthy lifestyle too.
TOSS THE BAG DRILL
Take a similar set-up stance to the one you used for the Bucket Brigade Drill, this time holding an impact bag or a small (4-8 lbs.) medicine ball. As you hold the bag or ball, be sure not to “clutch” the object as you hold it. With flat hands, gently secure the bag between both hands.
Using nothing but your feet, legs, and core, make a backswing motion and then make a “turn” to your target, similar to how you would swing a golf club.
If you properly accelerated, while maintaining your balance,
- The bag should sling shot out of your hands towards your target
- While your arms remain extended towards your target
- And your back toe is not in a “pirouette” position
- If you used your hands and arms to throw the bag/ball
- Most likely both feet will have remained on the ground
- Your arms are probably bent
- And the bag/ball had a lot of spin as it flew
- The objective of this drill is to have the bag/ball fly out of your hands due to the balanced centrifugal force you create and reach your target without excessive spin. Be sure to do an equal amount of repetitions to each side.
BALL AROUND YOUR LEG DRILL
Similar to the first two drills, this drill focuses on how your feet, legs, and core, the “engine” of your golf swing creates a rotational force. Wrapping the ball around your leg isolates the feet and legs and how your back leg creates “Down Force” to leverage the ground below you.
Find a tennis ball or other ball the same size (can be heavier if you want) and drill a hole through the ball so you can tie a small rope or large string through the hole.
Wrap the other end of the rope/string around your back leg’s thigh, allowing the ball to drop about half way down your lower leg.
Taking your golf posture, with your hands behind your back, make a forward swing only from this position, attempting to wrap the ball around your forward leg. Do not make a back swing to achieve the desired result.
Repeat this drill several times, focusing on how the foot, ankle, and knee are being used in a synchronized way with your core to make the rotation forward.
Repeat this drill in the opposite direction to insure you are keeping each side of the body in proper golf balance.
CROSS CONNECTION KNEELING STRETCH
When you are born, your body is pre-programmed to “Cross Connect” to keep the body balanced while in motion. The best example of this is how your arms work as you walk. When your left leg is steps forward, your right arm moves forward.
The ability of your body to “cross connect” during the swing is essential to good golf balance while swinging. You can isolate each side of your body’s ability to maintain its flexibility and cross connection capabilities with this one simple exercise. There are others you can add to a great workout routine, but this the simplest, the easiest, and the most effective way to utilize five minutes each day.
Find a pole, door knob, small tree, or other fixed object around your house you can hold with your hands that will not move or give if you pull on it.
Beside your fixed object, kneel on the knee furthest from the object, with the other leg bent directly in front of you, in line with the rest of that side of your body.
Reach towards the fixed object with both hands, placing your hands on the object in the same position as if it were a golf club. Try to keep your hips in their original starting position.
Now turn away from the object, using only your hips and core. Hold that position for a count of 5, working your way to a count of 10 or more as you become better at the stretch.
It is important that you not pull with your arms and hands, and the angle made with your shoulders stays behind the angle formed by your hips. This presents the “Cross” and the position you want to achieve at the moment of impact within your swing.
CASTER CHAIR DRILL
Most amateur golfers do some sitting in the office throughout the day and do not actively engage their core regularly while sitting. Now you, too, can and effectively maintain your golf swing.
Sit centered the chair, with your glutes at the end of the chair, allowing your feet to be flat on the ground. Be sure your hips and shoulders are in line with your feet and not at an angle. Bend slightly from the hips as if to replicate the posture you take in your golf swing.
Have someone hold your shoulders and turn your hips, using your feet on the ground as leverage. The chair will rotate toward the side you are turning to. Maintaining the position of your shoulders provides separation of your upper and lower body and replicates the cross connection you need for proper balance.
When you become good at separating the upper and lower parts of your body, try doing the exercise without someone holding your shoulders.
And when you progress to achieving the exercise without assistance, attempt to rotate the chair with your lower body in one direction, and your shoulders in the opposite direction
Being able to maintain a solid core and leverage your feet in a swing will enable you to better balance the “Turn” you make in your golf swing. And all it takes is a few minutes a day within your normal routine, to maintain and improve your ability to create a more balanced turn.
John Hughes is a PGA Master Professional based at Falcon’s Fire in Orlando, Florida, and 2013 PGA of American Horton Smith Award recipient. Visit him at www.johnhughesgolf.com