The “Good Golfer”: A Mythical Creature?


The average golfer has spent countless hours at the driving range over the years, seeking to refine technique only to become frustrated, as they seemingly take one step forward and then two steps back. Many times we are convinced that we are only a few swings away to becoming the near-mythical creature known as a “good golfer.” If we could just fix just one thing we achieve it. At various points we only needed to fix our grip, stance, takeaway, shoulder turn, wrist cock, downswing, club head lag, path, weight shift, or follow through; or to put it more simply, the golf swing. In reality, the main thing keeping us from becoming this mythical creature, may not be our swing technique, but our own body. More precisely, the body’s inability to perform the functions that are necessary for golf.

A good golf swing requires balance, a broad range of motion, stability, strength and power. The main reason for most golf swing flaws is much simpler than you think; the average golfer’s body cannot physically move the way it needs to in order to keep the club head on plane throughout the swing. The concept of swing plane is an important one for golf. When the golfer smoothly brings the club back and then forward, it traces an invisible ellipse around them at an angle to the ground. Herky-jerky motions will throw the golfer off this plane, usually with unhappy results. It is important to understand that during your golf swing, the body will move through the path of LEAST resistance. If you have an area that is inflexible, such as your hip or shoulder, you are not going to move through that inflexibility; but around it.  This is were the most common deviations in the swing happen.

Many times the golfers frustration with limited game improvement regardless of  increased practice time, play or lessons can be traced back to the fact that their bodies are simply not physically capable of the swing they are trying to achieve.  The Titleist Performance Institute certified Medical and Fitness professionals at Everett Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy and Performance Centers use a series of functional tests, which break down the individual components of the swing.  If the golfer can’t move their pelvis or mid back independently, balance, or has significant motion loss in there hips, we know that this will force compensations in their swing.

Many of the ailments and limitations identified in the functional testing of the golfer are common across the athletic spectrum.  They can be summarized  as the plight of the “professional athlete.”  Most people are professionals in the work place all day and then make the switch to athletics either before or after work. For the average golfer, the body spends the workday getting a minimal range of motion and then immediately transitions into a sport requiring significant range of motion and power.  When our bodies are not adequately prepared to make this shift from work to athletics, it becomes very difficult to perform at our best and will increase our risk of injury.

The Doctors of Physical Therapy at Everett Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy Centers assess your movement ability across the entire spectrum of activity from home, work and sport activity.  Using this information , they will design a personalized treatment plan that will help you perform at your best in all realms of the “professional athlete.” With a well designed treatment or fitness program your range of motion, strength, and power will increase. You will lower the likelihood of injury, improve your overall wellness, and see the decrease in your golf score you have been striving for.

Contact Everett Physical Therapy and Sports Performance today to sign up for individual or group golf fitness training, set up a physical therapy appointment, or be seen for a complimentary injury assessment.

Benjamin M. Boyle, DPT, PES, CSCS