What I've Learned Working With PGA Tour Pros
Slowly but surely, I’m working my way to spilling my expertise in the faces of the players on the PGA Tour. Last week, thanks to my mentor and good friend, I had the opportunity to go to Torrey Pines and work inside the ropes with 8 of the top players in the world at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Is this something that I foresee myself doing down the road more of? Yes. Do I want to share it with you? Yes. Why? Because that will have completed the process of me working with golfers all the way from 10 years old to 88 years old and with the best in the world.
This is important not so that I can brag about my experience (but I will a little), but more because at this point, I believe there are some solid theories that I can glean from my work with everyone that can really truly help you. In particular now how the PGA players have provided me answers in my limited time with them.
I’d like to share these theories with you now so as to help you understand where I/we (medical professionals) fit in with helping golfers and ultimately how you may be really missing out without one.
Every Body is Different, So Every Swing is Different
You know how as humans we love to categorize everything? If you have x then you must have y, if you hit the ball far you must do this, if you are strong and “bulky” you’ll do this and if you are flexible and lanky you’ll do that, etc.
Well, throw those categorizations out the window when it comes to the golf body and the golf swing. You see, it’s not so much about how your physical capabilities or limitations affect your golf swing, but it’s waaaay more about how you’re awareness of your physical capabilities can enhance your golf swing.
For example, I’ve harped a lot on the importance of the lead hip being mobile and strong. And that’s still important. But one of the golfers that had apparent limitation in hip rotation on his lead hip surprised the heck out of me. His hip seemed so stiff.
So as I investigated further and discussed with my mentor...he went on to discuss how big of an advantage this was for this golfer as it actually helps him to decelerate his lower body and transfer energy into his upper chain.
Thus, something on paper that I believed to likely be a disadvantage, this golfer was actually using for his significant advantage because he understood it existed and worked hard to utilize it as a strength.
This is why it is imperative that you get screened, understand your movement and how it can affect your swing both negatively and positively.
2. Golf is a Violent Sport
The rough at Torrey Pines South is absolutely wicked. And many of the players were in it A LOT of the week.
You may never have thought to describe golf this way, but what got hammered in my brain was how VIOLENT golf actually is when you stop and think about it.
These guys play Tues-Sunday (if they do well), practice before and after 18 holes, and many times are taking swipes through some pretty tough lies that would make some average players stop their swings right in their tracks.
Couple that with the fact that swinging a golf club is the equal to producing thousands of pounds of force, using every muscle in your body, in the flap of a butterfly’s wings...and you’re doing it repeatedly, in the same direction...that’s actually a very violent recipe on the body.
So, even if you’re not a tour pro, how does this affect you?
I would say from a game improvement standpoint, you have to stop treating golf like it’s different than any other sport. IT’S NOT!
Yes, the actual sport is different. But the fact that you can actually train, optimize movement, recover and rehab, to be significantly better at your golf game exists...just like it does in any other sport.
The way I see it currently, you have two options (with the possibility that you could need both).
1. If you’re struggling with pain, poor movement, and floundering golf ball contact...then you can work with a golf medical/fitness professional to analyze what’s gone wrong and help get you back along with a swing coach as well as get on our tables and start getting some hands on work to feel better.
2. If you’re not struggling with pain, poor movement, and floundering golf ball contact...then you can start strength training with a golf medical/fitness professional NOW. AND I MEAN RIGHT NOW.
I don’t even have the time to go into the boat loads of information and research on how good strength training is for golf. And if you still think strength training is bad for golf or that you’ll GET TOO BIG...please contact me. I’d love to chat.
3. It might behoove you to be open to the possibilities that your swing characteristics are a body issue, not an equipment issue.
One of the more interesting conversations of the week came in the discussion had between a physio and one of the players’ swing coaches.
The conversation will be kept confidential but all in all it had to do with what recommendations should be made for this individual so that he did not have a repeat issue/injury that had happened in the past.
The idea was to let a certain part of the body “move” so that stress was going to be taken off of another area and would allow for a different positioning at the top or transition.
The swing coach was asking if that move was healthy for the player or not so that he could potentially introduce a change to the path of the club and set him up for success.
So two of the most important professionals surrounding this multi-million dollar player were discussing something to help prevent/alleviate pain (the body) and something to improve performance and ball striking (the body).
It dawned on me that rarely in my time with the physios, coaches, or players that equipment was discussed much at all.
(side note: don’t get me wrong...equipment, especially when fit properly and objectively measured is critical)
BUT...when the average joe/jane golfer has problems, what does he/she blame those problems on? THE EQUIPMENT. When the average joe/jane golfer tries to improve what to do they spend their time, research, and money on? THE EQUIPMENT.
I’ve gotten way past the point now of even holding back my feelings of someone who reports of a massive slice, feeling like they “need more turn”, and not being very happy with their distance, yet the first move they make is to go drop $499 for the latest driver.
That is an individual in my opinion, that either doesn’t really want to get better, or they haven’t talked to me yet :)
Yours in health,
Dr. Eric Wallace