Program Design & Implementation:
Training for Durability: The importance of consistent training in golf

Jeremy Golden is the Director of Fitness at Tehama Golf Club in Carmel, California.

The game of golf has evolved over the years where strength and power are vital for success. The level of athleticism an elite golfer needs to succeed in the professional ranks has increased over time, and the need for sound strength and conditioning in golf is at an all-time high.

Whether you’re a professional, collegiate golfer or just getting into the game, training your body is going to be a huge piece of the puzzle to not only playing good golf but also playing the game for a long time without the fear of injury.

One question I’m always asked is, “Is this exercise golf-specific?” This is a loaded question because what looks specific to golf may not be specific to the individual needs of the person who’s training. Strength is the low-hanging fruit, and most people need to get stronger before they can worry about anything else. Strength, after all, will cure a lot of ills and is one of the foundational pieces of training. But before we can begin building strength, a person must be able to move properly. When looking at training, I have a simple pyramid that I follow.

At the base of everything I do is movement. Every elite golfer can move their body explosively and get into positions that most people would struggle to attain. Part of this is genetic, part is due to the kind of athletes they are and part is developing sound training principles. So, before we start training, I make sure they are moving properly through full ranges of motion. For example, if someone is rocking on their toes on a squat or has an asymmetrical shift in their hips, those things need to be addressed before I can ask that person to move a heavy load. That doesn’t mean we can’t teach the movement with weight, but modifications will be made to help the person with any imbalances they have. Even if there are no imbalances, movement patterns, whether in warm-up or cool-down, will still be trained. Movement is a constant focus in training and just being able to move weight properly will help someone become more mobile. This is a skill developed over time. Much like swinging a golf club is about repetition, so is learning to move properly. Consistency in training and repetition of the movements are key to being a good mover.  Just like golf, weight training and movement are skills, and it takes time and consistency to master them.

As stated earlier, strength is the low-hanging fruit and a daily focus in training. Once proper movement patterns are enforced, strength can become the priority. This will vary throughout the year, based on the person and what his or her goals are. In the off-season, I like to focus on building a lot of strength, not worrying as much about excess soreness as I would in-season.

For professionals, their window of training is a lot smaller because of their schedule, so training needs to be consistent throughout the year. With my pros, I base much of our strength programming on their playing schedule and on any pressing needs they may have. I determine this by not only talking to the player but also being on the same page with the swing coach in understanding what that player may need from training that could improve something in their swing. It’s up to us to guide that player in the right direction while also making sure we create an environment where the golfer knows he or she can succeed and that the work we’re doing will carry over to the course.

The last piece of the puzzle is power. There is a direct correlation between distance off the tee and vertical jump height, so training power is vital to getting a golfer more distance. I build power into every training session and progress the volume slowly depending on the person. The rule of thumb with power is “less is more.” Lower volume with an emphasis on “perfect” reps is how I train power with my clients.

With my older clients who can’t jump or are unable to do any sort of plyometric movements, there are still ways to train power. Medicine ball slams and throws are a great way to build power without having the person leave the ground. The other thing I have incorporated is band rotations at different speed settings. I use a lighter band and teach the person how to rotate from the hips and not the spine, which is a common mistake when learning how to properly rotate.

This is a brief snapshot of how I build a training program. Finding what works for each person is ultimately going to determine how successful a plan can be. It’s got to fit what that player is trying to accomplish and what is going to be best for the person. At the end of the day, the most important part of training is consistency. Even if you can only find 30 minutes a day to train, you must do something to work and move your body. An object in motion stays in motion, and it’s the little things over time that ultimately add up to great results.