Some people never learn to really play golf well—even after years of golf lessons. But many PGA players make it look easy. Take Fred Couples. The former number one ranked player in the world has won numerous golfing events, including the Masters Tournament in 1992. Born in 1959, Fred is among the oldest players on the PGA Tour. But he can still hit the ball a long way. His power stems from a seemingly effortless swing that players with high golf handicaps can only envy.
Fred’s swing is among the most efficient in the game. Among the keys to his swing’s efficiency is his rigid spine angle. Fred maintains the same spine angle from setup to impact. This creates a dynamic where Fred’s arms, head, and club can freely accelerate through the ball—just like they preach in golf tips and golf lessons. Like many pro golfers, Fred understands that the body always seeks to stay in balance. If your spine is curved at address, it will try to straighten during your swing, costing you power.
Below are several golf tips and drills that will help you achieve and maintain your spine angle. Working on these drills increases your swing’s efficiency and improves your consistency and accuracy:
It’s easy maintaining a constant spine angle if you start that way. This means bending at the hips—not slumping forward from the waist, as players with high golf handicaps often do. To learn to bend at the hips, do this exercise: Hold a club at both ends across your hipbones and just under your belt buckle. This pulls your shoulders back and locks in a straighter spine angle. Once you’re set, pull the club up to your chest and bend forward from the hips. Now, simulate your turn with the club across your chest. Make sure the club points just beyond the ball as you turn.
A strong lower body, including your legs, helps you create and maintain an athletic posture and adds power and efficiency to your swing. Power squats (fast knee bends) strengthen the big muscles of your legs. Make sure you balance yourself on the balls of your feet when you do them. Maintain a straight back and keep your abs flexed as you go down. For a maximum burn, pump your arms up as you go down and pump them down as you go up. Power squats are also a great warm-up exercise. Do three sets of 20 repetitions.
Powerful shoulder muscles are also keys to efficiency. The Rope Drill strengthens those muscles and adds speed and technique to your shoulder turn. Loop a jump rope around a table leg or a post and grab one end in each hand. Now pull each end one side at a time, as if you were starting a power lawn mower. But keep your head steady. This exercise also increases your range of motion and improves your swing tempo. Do three sets of 20 repetitions.
Players with efficient swings all have one thing in common—strong core muscles. The Back Brace drill, which instructors sometimes incorporate in their golf instruction sessions, strengthens your core: Drop into a push-up position but rest your weight on your forearms, not your hands. Hold your back straight and your body off the ground for 30 seconds. To work your oblique muscles, turn sideways and hold yourself up on one forearm for 60 seconds. Then switch to the other forearm for the same length of time. Do a few of these each day.
Doing these four drills won’t turn you into a Fred Couples. But they will strengthen the key muscles that help you maintain the correct spine angle. Doing so will help you create a dynamic where your arms, head, and club freely accelerate through the ball—just like they tell you in golf tips and golf instruction sessions That in turn will help you smash longer, straighter drives that can lead to a lower golf handicap.