A lower handicap, isn’t that what every golfer wants?
My name is Adam Kelly and along with Brent Vanderloop we’re going to explain and show you how you can lower your handicap, with a few simple exercises and stretches that you can do at home. But before we do that, let us tell you a little about ourselves.
I'm a personal trainer and strength & conditioning coach with a passion for golf. My passion for golf started in 2011 after having been in Perth for a couple of years, great weather, awesome golf courses, what's not to love? I'm currently a member of Cottesloe Golf Club and play off a handicap of 23. My aim is to have that down to as low as possible by the end of the year, using the new skills I have gained through TPI, so watch this space!
I decided to combine my two passions of health & fitness and golf and completed the TPI level 1 certification, an absolute eye opener into how TPI is changing the way golf is taught going forward. I'm also currently doing my fitness level 2 and junior level 2.
Are you ready to challenge yourself to become a better golfer?
My Name is Brent Vanderloop I am an avid golfer who has a passion for the game and am a member of The Western Australian Golf Club in Yokine. I am originally from Ontario, Canada where I grew up loving golf. I graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours degree in Kinesiology with a focus in Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology. I then completed my Masters of Physiotherapy at Curtin University in Perth. I have since been working treating patients in private practice setting with a focus on pain management and exercise rehab for injuries of all kinds.
I am a certified Titleist Performance Institute Golf Fitness Instructor as well as a level 2 Titleist Performance Institute Medical Professional. I received these certifications with TPI founder Dr Greg Rose in Tokyo. I then went on to create Perth Golf Physio. Perth Golf Physio is bridging the gap between your golf instructor and your physiotherapist. Golf instructors understand your swing while physios understand your body but neither knows how they affect each other. Perth Golf Physio is bridging this gap to provide a physiotherapy service that is specific to a golfer's needs. For more information please visit my website www.perthgolfphysio.com.
So enough about us, let’s talk about how we can lower your handicap and make you a better golfer, that’s hitting the ball further and more consistently. Our aim is to help golfers of all abilities become the best player that they can, through exercise and treatment. I must stress that neither Brent nor myself are golf instructors and don’t pretend to be. For any swing related issues, please seek advice from a PGA qualified golf instructor.
So if like me, you’ve had golf lessons and you’ve been told the same thing over and over and you can’t understand why you just can’t do what the instructor is saying or get the golf club into the position it should be in, well we have the answer for you, it may shock you to hear this, are you ready? Are you sitting down?…….it’s because……… you can’t! you can’t physically get your body in to the position it needs to be in, there are restricting or limiting factors that just won’t allow you to do what you’re being told or have the club where it needs to be, I know, I have been there and been told by 4 different instructors that I come over the top and I scoop the ball. Ok, I know I do that but until now I never knew why, it’s because my body has physical limitations that are preventing me from getting in to a position that I need to be in to have a consistent swing, and that is the key here, a consistent swing, it doesn’t have to be perfect, after all what is perfect? Some of the best golfers in the world that have/had a successful career in golf don’t have a perfect swing (think Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk but all have one thing in common, and that is a consistent swing.
With all that said, let’s get started.
So who better to do this case study on than myself, like I mentioned above my golf link handicap is 23.2 as of right now and this is the lowest it has been and hopefully the highest it will ever be too. I’ve given myself 6 months, so until the end of the year 31st December 2015 to get it as low as possible, I have a number in mind but I’ll keep that to myself for now.
We start this whole case study with a Physical screen, there are 16 screens in total, and they all tell the TPI expert (in this case Brent) something that my body can or can’t do. Each test also relates to a swing characteristic, which we’ll talk about a little later. The screen takes anywhere from 8 minutes to 25minutes depending on how well the client grasps how to perform the test and at the end we’ll film my swing and talk a little about what we see and how the swing characteristics we see are related to the screens we did. Below you will find pictures of the physical screen with an explanation of what’s happening.
This test is checking the player’s ability to independently rotate the lower body from the upper body. This is an important movement in the correct sequencing for the downswing.
The player starts the test in the same mid-iron posture with arms across chest. Then instruct the player to rotate the hips, while keeping the upper body still (should resemble something like the twist). This is a test I failed miserably, I moved from side to side, even with Brent holding my shoulder to check if it was a mobility or stability issue. The good thing about failing this test is I now know why I come over the top and scoop!
Overhead Deep Squat
One of the most informative tests you can perform on a golfer. It assess mobility of the hips, knees, ankles and when holding a club or dowel above the head it also assess the thoracic spine and shoulders. A very difficult test to perform and can be broken down in to 3 separate tests to see where the limitations are. If the player fails the overhead deep squat, they regress to: arms down full squat, having failed this test you regress to: the half kneeling dorsiflexion test. With these 3 variations of the overhead deep squat, there are many check points that you are looking for, for example:
Pain or discomfort
Loss of balance
Heels coming off the ground
Club or dowel coming forward towards the ground
Feet flaring out
These are just a few of things to look for in the full overhead deep squat. Each regression of the exercise has its own checklist to look for.
Toe Touch Test
A test that has been around for many years, and a great test for overall mobility in the lower back and hamstrings, it can indicate if there is a hip problem versus lower back/core limitation.
I couldn’t perform this test, so we went a step further by where we test one side at a time, this is done by simply lifting one foot so it has a bend at the knee. I was the same on both sides, so this indicates its lower back or hamstring flexibility.
This test is designed to highlight any limitations in mobility of the gleno-humeral joint and the range of external rotation in their shoulder. Many golfers lose range of motion in their golf posture due to scapular stability.
The test is done with 90 degrees of flexion in their elbow and 90 degrees of side abduction at the shoulder joint. Keeping that position get the client to externally rotates far as they can without loss of form or posture. Once they can’t go any further you are looking to see if the position is:
Less than spine angle
Equal to spine angle
More than spine angle
The test is then performed again in mid-iron posture.
Lower Quarter Rotation Test
This is a test to measure the rotational mobility of the lower quarter. Hip and tibial internal/external rotation and foot inversion/eversion are essential for a proper golf swing.
The test is done with all your weight on one leg, the other foot placed on the ground but just on your toes with the leg bent. Hands on hips and rotate in both directions, Brent was looking for at least 60 degrees of pelvic rotation bilaterally.
Seated Trunk Rotation
This test is done to identify rotational mobility in the thoraco-lumbar spine. Good separation between upper and lower body is important to generate speed and maintain a stable posture during the golf swing.
This test is done in a seated position and it’s important the knees and feet stay together throughout the whole test. Holding a golf club or dowel behind you across the shoulders rotate as far as you can to the left and right, you should be able to get to 45 degrees on both sides.
Bridge with leg extension
Another classic exercise, the reason for this test is to test stability in the pelvis/lumbar spine, core and especially the gluteal muscles. The glutes are the king when it comes to stability and generating power. This test will highlight any inhibition or weakness in the glute max due to recruiting synergistic muscles such as the hamstrings and lower back.
To perform this test, lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees and feet together, arms extended over the chest. Lift the pelvis up and then extend one leg from the knee and hold for 10 seconds. Any pain or cramping and stop the test straight away, you are also looking for leg shaking or hip dropping.
So there you have it, I failed 7 tests out of the 16. On finishing the physical screen Brent and I went through a series of mobility exercises and stretches that I’ll do every day. I’ll then go back for another physical screen in 8-12 weeks to see how I compare. I also hope to start seeing improvements in my golf swing, distance, consistency and see my handicap get lower.
The list of tests above are only about half of what you get when you have a full screen, I decided to only write about the tests I failed.
We aim to keep you posted with regular updates and reports of how I’m going on with my exercises and the progress of getting my handicap lower.
Join us next time when we’ll go through the exercises and stretches I’ve been doing as well as an update.
Thanks for reading and happy golfing!
Adam Kelly & Brent Vanderloop