G. D'Hulst, Exercise Physiology Research Group, KU Leuven
Is Tiger Woods a sprinter, a rower or does he play golf? This is a genuine question someone who doesn’t know the man could ask. The top 20 players of the Official Golf World Ranking (www.owgr.com) all are fit and strong athletes, much different from ~25 years ago. Where does this interest in ‘fitness for golf’ come from? Why are top-players getting stronger and better athletes? And why are core-stability and sprint training important ingredients of the daily training schedule of elite players? The answer is easy: more strength allows to hit the ball further with more consistency.
In a recent study the effects of core-stability exercises on golf specific parameters were investigated (Weston et al. 2013). Thirty-six golfers (Hcp: 11.2) were assigned to two experimental groups. One served as a control group (n = 18, CTL) and another group performed core-stability training 3 times per week (n = 18, CSE). The exercises included: double-leg squat, bent-leg curl up, superman, supine bridge, prone bridge, quadruped, lunge, and side bridge, and were performed for 8 weeks. The two groups were tested on various important determinants of golf performance such as club head speed, backspin, sidespin, as well as the variability on these factors by hitting 10-shots in a row. The measurements were done on a practice range with the Vector Pro Launch monitor. Results showed that when golf handicap was low, club head speed was high (and vice versa, r = -0,61). Furthermore, and this is interesting, there was a small beneficial effect of the core-stability exercises on golf club head speed and a small to moderate decrease in variability of club head speed and backspin, which is essential to the accuracy of the ball strike hits. Thus the golfers enrolled in the training groups were hitting the ball harder and with more accuracy than the untrained control group. This clearly indicates that core stability training can be beneficial for golf performance, mainly by increasing club head speed, which is positively associated with golf handicap.
Take home-message: including core stability training in the training program, by promoting club head speed and accuracy, makes you a better golf player.
Weston, M., Coleman, N. J. & Spears, I. R. 2013. The effect of isolated core training on selected measures of golf swing performance. Med.Sci.Sports Exerc. 45, 2292-2297.