This article was co-written with Alex Bennet, Head Trainer at the PGA Tour Performance Centre
I’m very lucky to work in a world class location; the combination of swing analysis technology, practice facilities, gym equipment and great weather here at the PGA Tour’s Performance Center at Sawgrass is hard to beat. The case study that I’m presenting to you today is interesting because it really could have happened anywhere. The improvements demonstrated are due to collaboration of coaches, an open-minded approach to self betterment and a bit of consistent effort.
- Our Hero: Nat Findlay, 63, CEO of Wellbox Inc, 9 handicap.
- The Golf Coach: Andrew Lanahan, LSU Team, Mini Tour Pro, Short Game expert.
- The Trainer: Alex Bennett (me), Flagler College Team, Mini Tour Pro, Corrective Exercise Specialist.
Nat initially came to Andrew for help with his game and presented with a very flat swing, hands way behind the body and lots of early extension.
Andrew quickly realized that Nat’s move wasn’t going to be easy to shake and that a muscle imbalance or limitation could be physically holding him back from improving his swing.
As the trainer, I work hand in hand with the instructors, watching what they are trying to achieve from a technical perspective. I also observe whether the student has the physical capabilities to perform what the the coach is asking of them. Being on-site full time meant that it was easy for Andrew to send Nat to see me for an assessment. During the golf specific physical screening, I found Nat had the following limitations:
- Restricted T-Spine rotation
- Limited upper back/scapula control
- Restricted internal hip rotation range
- Tight lats, restricting horizontal flexion at the shoulder (lead arm across the body)
This didn’t surprise me at all. After seeing Nat’s swing and hearing Andrew’s explanation, the assessment results made total sense. The combination of rotational restrictions and lack of scapula control went a long way to explaining what was holding Nat back.
We had four key things to improve in Nat’s body in order to make improved swing mechanics possible, so we got straight to work and attacked each one with a combination of mobility and stability exercises:
Area 1: T-Spine Rotation
We are using light resistance and encouraging Nat to rotate from his mid/upper back and hips. This kind of dynamic movement encourages improved mobility under load and is also specific to golf posture.
Area 2: Upper Back/Scap Control in Rotation
Using the GravityFit TPro, we were able to deliver both postural awareness and stability stimulus to the upper back and shoulder girdle while rotating. This has been somewhat of a game changer for me and my clients. It helps produce amazingly quick improvements in postural control and rotation quality.
Area 3: Internal hip rotation range
The ball holds your ankles and feet in place, while the hands are pressing your knees inward. This helps to gain precious degrees of increased hip rotation — absolutely essential for allowing quality loading into the right side.
Area 4: Tight Lats
This move achieves two things. First, it stretches the muscles and connective tissue of the lats and back of the shoulder. Second, it helps improve upper and lower body disassociation by turning the hips away from the shoulders.
Fast forward a few months. Nat diligently applied himself to the simple, yet targeted exercise program. We were starting to see some really cool things happen in his golf swing.
“I’ve worked with Alex for the past year consistently, and I have seen a huge improvement in my strength, posture, swing speed, stability, and flexibility,” Nat says. “My handicap has also dropped from 15 to 9, which is no coincidence!”
To summarize, making small physical changes can have a big effect on your game. As you’ve seen with Nat, it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated… or even very hard work. If you want to move better and hit it longer and less offline, then it’ll be well worth seeking out your nearest golf center with a collaborative team.