Mind & Body

In my last article I spoke about the “low hanging fruit of posture” and how by simply improving your posture you can see huge gains in your golf (Mind & Body – The Golf Mag Vol.2). This month, I want to talk about the concept of sequencing, which ties to the physical ability to separate certain parts of your body from others.

The golf swing can become a complicated movement, with many different positions and angles to consider, all in the name of consistency. A better word we can use is efficiency.

If we take away the style of what a professional golfer’s swing looks like (and we can agree that even on Tour there are some funky looking swings), their bodies are moving in the correct sequence, which allows for mechanical consistency.

Sport scientists, golf coaches and biomechanics are able to put sensors on or around the golfer while they hit a golf ball, and can measure exactly what their body is doing, in terms of angles, rotational speeds and what kinematic sequence the body fires in the golf swing. Hundreds of hours of measuring golfers, combined with thousands of physical screening tests have given us some great information around correct sequencing of the body.

The full swing sequence from the top of the backswing to impact with the ball should be: the hips initiate the downswing, followed by the torso (upper body), then by the arms and lastly the golf club. This sequence creates a power transfer pattern starting from the ground, moving through the body, finishing in the golf club. This ensures you are transferring power and making use of the big muscles in the legs to generate power, while the smaller muscles in the hands and arms can control the direction of the clubface.

Now that we have some of the technical jargon out the way, why would this be important for a recreational golfer, and how do you know if you can do this movement?

Us recreational golfers have a day job that often requires hours of sitting behind a desk, or in a car, which can tighten up the body. When we rotate in the golf swing, very often the hips and torso rotate together, with little separation between them (or we don't rotate at all). This results in an over-reliance on our hands and arms to hit the ball, which creates an inefficient golf swing and loss of distance.

The ability to rotate your hips independently of your torso is key to having the potential to start your downswing with your hips. You also need to have the ability to rotate your torso independently of your hips (think about your putting stroke).

Here are two easy tests you can do at home to determine whether you have the ability to separate your hips and torso:

Pelvic rotation test

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Torso rotation test

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If these tests are quite difficult for you to perform, the good news is that you can improve on these in the gym, or even at home. As your body learns to create separation, you can incorporate a golf lesson or two with your local PGA professional to help integrate this into your golf swing.

Here are two really simple exercises you could do to improve your separation, or perhaps do before you play golf to help prepare your body:

Stork turns supported

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Helicopter turns

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Good luck with those tests and exercises, and as always please feel free to reach out to me if you would like any more information or help.


About the author

Gavin Groves graduated with honours in biokinetics from the University of Pretoria in 2007 after completing his undergraduate degree in human movement sciences. He started at the World of Golf in 2007 as a golf fitness professional, working with beginners, elite amateurs and professionals. A year later, he started at the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and completed all three levels by 2012. He is also an AA-member of the PGA of South Africa. Gavin joined the University of Pretoria's High Performance golf programme in 2013, and in 2018 he moved full time to the DP World Tour, where he has worked with players including Brandon Stone, Andy Sullivan and Darren Fichardt. He also counts numerous past and present Sunshine Tour professionals as clients. In a career spanning over 16 years, Gavin has worked with over 50 South African professionals and continues to grow the fitness aspect of golf internationally and locally. He has been the full-time fitness consultant of the GolfRSA National Squad since 2017 and has worked with some of the best SA amateur golfers, including Jovan Rebula, Aldrich Potgieter and Christo Lamprecht.