Competing in Long Drive is always a treat. The competition, definitely, but watching some of the longest hitters in the world put a good move on the ball is inspiring. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the World Long Drive Competition this year, but I was able to watch it on TV and during the competition, I noticed a substantial disparity between these powerful players and the average golfer. That difference is in the stability of the lower body during the swing.
I know it looks like the boys are completely swinging uncontrollably, but if you look closer, there is a magic to their lower body movement. Yes, it is violent, and extremely aggressive, especially compared to the average PGA professional. But it is strong and it is stable, or else they wouldn’t be able to control their club moving at 150mph+ and find the golf ball. Guys like Will Hogue and Ryan Steenberg, two of the winningest competitors for the 2018 WLDA season are great examples of lower body stability. Will, a firefighter, and Ryan, a personal trainer, have two of the strongest lower bodies and most stable golf swings I have ever seen.
Most amateurs when they’re learning the game are told something along the lines of “keep your head down” or “keep your eye on the ball.” This is just an easy way of trying to get the player to stabilize their body during the golf swing, if their head stays in one place their legs won’t be able to move far either. Don’t get me wrong, a players’ legs are used in the golf swing, but if the legs are collapsing instead stabilising to build torque against the core muscles and upper body, then power is being lost rather than gained.
Average female golfers, beginners and high handicap golfers are consistently an unfortunate representation of this problem. I see it every day on the driving range, ladies swaying around the tee box rather than building torque against their lower body. A lot of the time, it just seems like these players don’t know how to engage the right muscles in order to correctly use their legs during the swing. Whereas, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka are known on the PGA Tour to have remarkable leg strength, an additional reason as to why they are consistently in the top rankings on the Tour in driving distance and why DJ is the world’s number 1 player and why Koepka won two majors this year.
Sport specific training in the gym can help to teach a player how to use the correct muscles efficiently during the golf swing. Just being strong won’t make you a great golfer, you need to be able to use the right muscles correctly. In order to learn how to incorporate the correct muscles, one of my favorite strength building exercises, squats, can be slightly modified to work on this exact idea. Most people trying to gain strength and power will squat in the rack pressing heavy weight, which is a great way to gain strength, but when I wanted to make this movement more sport specific and even more efficient, Joey Scorza at First Physical Therapy put me on an upside down Bosu ball.
Getting on the Bosu ball instantaneously makes the movement of the squat more efficient, being on the unstable surface of a Bosu requires you to use every muscle in your legs to stabilize your body so you don’t fall off, you instantly learn to recruit not only your quads and glutes, the focus muscles in regular back squats, but the stabilizing muscles in and around your feet and ankles. The Bosu ball teaches your body quickly, forcing you to learn to engage the correct muscles you need to stay stable on the tee box.
Kolby Wayne trains some of the top players in the world in Jupiter, FL, including Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson and he is a huge proponent of using a Bosu ball. He has nicknamed his training “The Stable” and you can see how the stability he teaches helps some of the best in the world get even better. Using a Bosu ball during your squats will teach you to use your muscles correctly, and this will easily transfer to the driving range rather than solely strengthening.
Start small by trying to incorporate bodyweight bosu squats into your workouts to be able to transfer that stabilization to your golf game. Try starting with three sets of ten with no weight, making sure you focus on keeping the Bosu ball flat under your feet, the ball shouldn’t be tilting forward toward your toes or toward one leg or the other. Completing full range squats while keeping the ball flat under your feet will undeniably teach you to engage all the muscles you need to gain stability in your golf swing, and therefore gain some distance off the tee while not compromising consistency.
Continue to do these to help build those stabilization muscles in your lower body and you will start to notice a difference in how stable the base of your golf swing becomes. Remember, a stable base allows for the body to create torque within itself, which in turn leads to more power when the club returns to the ball.
Good luck, have fun, and let me know how these squats work for you!