The connection between golf fitness exercises and the short game often times goes unnoticed. It is usually thought golf fitness exercises help us generate more clubhead speed, add more distance to our drives, hit longer iron shots, and play more consistently from the fairway. In this mix of benefits the short game is often lost when discussing golf fitness. Believe it or not golf fitness exercises can benefit your short game in a big way.
The idea of golf fitness exercises and their benefit to short game play came into focus during a conversation with PGA Teaching professional Christopher Smith. Christopher is a great instructor; he works with Nike Golf, is rated as a top instructor in the Pacific Northwest, and was recently featured in Golf Digest Magazine. Not to long ago Christopher and I filmed a couple of golf instruction videos together. One of the videos was on the short game.
The video we filmed was not your “typical” short game video. Where we instructed you to place your feet here, clubface in this position, hands forward of the ball, etc, etc. It was a much better approach in the video and discussed concepts of the short game. Christopher presented ways to think about short game shots, and processes to improve your short game.
One area he touched upon was how finite of an athletic action chipping and pitching are in the big picture. For example, the muscular strength in the hands, forearms, and wrists are integral parts of the short game. In addition so are the motor skills of the nerves and muscles coordinating the movements involved in such golf shots.
Christopher’s question to me in the video was in relation to these exact topics. He flat out asked me:
“Sean, are there golf fitness exercises that can help in the short game? I find as an instructor, physical limitations are showing up in some of my student’s short game. This is limiting their ability to perform chips, pitches, and most shots from 100 yards in. What are your thoughts?”
I told Christopher there are absolutely golf fitness exercises that can benefit any golfer’s short game. I first discussed the hands, wrists, and forearms. To perform chip shots and pitches the hands, wrists, and forearms come into play. In order to execute such shots consistently and correctly a level of strength is needed within these muscles. If the muscles within these parts of the body are weak and lack endurance, the ability to set the hands where they need to be, and hold the clubface in the correct position can be compromised.
I said the easiest way to correct this problem on a physical level is to implement a series of golf fitness exercises for the hands, wrists, and forearms. These exercises will increase the muscular strength and endurance in these body parts. The end result will be an improvement in their short game on a physical level.
The second problem area indicated by Christopher with his student’s short game centered upon the finite motor skills of these shots. These types of shots require a very high level of motor control. Motor control is centered upon the interaction of the brain, nerves, and muscles. It is essentially your brain telling your body what to do, how to do it, and in what order. This is a result of your brain coordinating movements of your muscles through the nervous system. The execution of your brain “telling your body what to do” can be either efficient or inefficient.
If your brain, nervous system, and muscles are operating efficiently, the execution of finite motor control movements such as short game shots are easy. On the other hand, if your brain telling your nerves, and consequently your muscles what to do is inefficient. The execution of finite motor control movements, again such as short game shots will be more difficult.
I told Christopher motor control is the second area in which golf fitness exercises can be of benefit to the short game. The types of golf fitness exercise beneficial to the short game are balance exercises. Balance exercises are a type of golf fitness exercises.
These types of golf fitness exercises incorporate your brain, nerves, and muscles. They have many benefits when it comes to the golf swing. Outside the benefit of creating higher levels of muscular strength and endurance, these exercises assist in motor control.
Let me explain, we understand motor control is the interaction of your brain, nerves, and muscles. The interaction can either be efficient or inefficient. Efficient motor control is good, especially for finite muscular activities such as short game shots. Golf fitness balance exercises “challenge” your nervous and muscular system interaction. Over time as these two systems are “challenged” through exercise they become more efficient. Essentially they operate together more efficiently. Resulting in higher levels of motor control and the ability to execute finite motor skills (i.e. short game golf shots).
So lets summarize this discussion between Christopher Smith and myself. Golf fitness exercises are often overlooked as a benefit to short game shots. The reality is different than many individuals think. Golf fitness exercises can assist the golfer’s short game on a physical level. It does this in two ways; golf fitness exercises increase the strength in the muscles involved in short game shots. Secondly, the short game is a finite motor control activity. Golf fitness balance exercises can improve a golfer’s motor control abilities, allowing them to execute finite activities such as short game shots with greater ease. Bottom line, golf fitness exercises can benefit every aspect of the golf swing and the amateur’s golf game.