Doing Correct Exercises for an Effective Golf Swing

Over the years I have come across a lot of smart people in the field of rehabilitation, fitness and sports performance. Of the many things I have learned, I’m always making sure that each of my clients are doing exercises that are specific to their own unique problems and goals. With that being said I want to describe a systematic approach to exercise that will help those that do not have personal coaching.

An interesting concept I have been utilizing for the last year or so, is a joint by joint approach to rehab, fitness and performance of golfers. This concept was first discussed by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook, two leaders in the area of sports performance. The idea is that each major joint (or area of the body) has a tendency to function more as a mobile joint, or as a stable joint. Yes, they all require a certain degree of each, and joint injury plays a role, however, this concept tends to hold true.

This mobility/stability concept occurs in an alternating pattern, and if this pattern is changed then dysfunction and compensation will occur. The normal pattern is shown below.





Pelvis/Sacrum/Lumbar SpineStable

Thoracic Spine (upper back)Mobile

Scapulo/Thoracic (shoulder blade) – Stable

Gleno-humeral (shoulder)Mobile



Cervical SpineStable


Regarding dysfunction in the body, we can use the low back as an example. If you do not have good mobility in the hips and in the upper back (thoracic spine), then the low back will give up some of its stability to obtain more motion when needed in those areas. A tight upper back & hips are big causes of low back pain in golfers.

A training error I see all the time is golfers focusing on strengthening their core in a dynamic and sometimes violent manner. This will not only lead to low back injury, but in fact it’s the hips and upper back that often times need improved mobility. That would not only help prevent injury, but also improve the overall golf swing.

So take a good look at the above table and make sure you have mobility where it is needed and stability in the ares where it is needed. Then let this be a guide in your selection of golf specific exercises.

Good Luck!
Mark Tolle – Owner of Golf Fitness Chicago

Golf Mobility Exercise to Increase Shoulder Turn

Here is a mobility exercise video that will help increase the shoulder turn in your golf swing.  You want to ensure that the majority of the rotation in the golf swing is coming from your upper back.  Often times golfers will over rotate through the low back which can lead to low back pain.

The shoulder turn is not only dependent upon the golf set up posture, but also the actual mobility of the upper back (thoracic spine) region.  This exercise takes advantage of the natural biomechanics of the thoracic spine and the relationship of the movements rotation and side bend.  These 2 movements occur in the spine together especially in the golf swing.

So give this a try and watch that shoulder turn improve.


How to Handle Casual Water on the Putting Green

With spring in the air we can most certainly expect the April showers soon and more than likely periodically throughout the summer. So now is a good time for us to review a few simple tips on dealing with water accumulation on the putting greens.

Many times the rules around casual water on the greens are misunderstood. What is casual water? It’s any temporary accumulation of water on the course not in a water hazard, such as puddles (from those April showers) on the surface. A critical tip to remember: You are not allowed to brush aside casual water or mop it up from your line of play.

If your ball is on the green and casual water is in the line of your putt, move the ball to an area of the green where the water no longer obstructs your putting line. However, as always, no closer to the hole! For you early morning golfers, keep in mind that you cannot brush away the dew or the frost. If you do…’s a two stoke penalty.

Enjoy the onset of the warmer weather and resist the urge to “brush away” the water and dew! or to “mop up” any of those puddles!

Hitting a Good Shot When the Ball is Above Your Feet

When the lie of the ball is not level with your feet, your stance, alignment, swing, and direction of the shot is directly impacted. Let’s look at some tips to make this sidehill lie shot a good one.

  • Using a club with a higher degree of loft than normal for that distance of shot is the first part to hitting the best shot. A side hill lie with the ball above your feet will produce a right to left draw (opposite if you’re lefty) shot that will roll farther than a typical shot. For instance, if you would normally choose a 7-iron for that distance, try to use an 8-iron instead.
  • When taking aim, try to aim right of the target if you’re right-handed, and left of the target if you’re left-handed, since this shot will have a slight draw to it.
  • When approaching the ball, set it back in you stance more toward your back foot.
  • In your stance, stand tall and keep your weight on the balls of your feet so that you have maximum balance through the swing.
  • When gripping the club, try to choke up a bit. How much you choke up will depend on how severe the slope of the lie is. The steeper the lie, the father you need to choke up.
  • Take a few practice swings to ensure that you have a good grip and good posture for the swing.
  • Last, make a flatter swing with your arms lower then usual in your backswing. This type of swing is used to produce a draw and has a higher risk of hitting a fat shot. This is why you moved the ball back in your stance and aimed right of your target (again, opposite if you’re a lefty).

Hitting Out of the Deep Rough

If you have ever hit the ball and it doesn’t stay in the fairway, you have experienced the wrath of many courses deep rough. You watched your ball roll into the deep but quickly it disappears, nestling down into the gnarly grass creating a very difficult next shot.

To combat thick rough, set up just left of your target and open up the club face just a bit. This will let the club cut through the grass a little bit better and not allow the grass to pull the clubface left. Choke down on the club a bit and tighten your grip to solidify your club as your swing rips through the deep grass.

During your swing, use an outside-to-inside swing path to create a steeper angle to attack the ball. This angle will help you to hit more of the ball first and not all grass behind it. This path will correspond to your stance. In effect, you will be swinging along the line you created with your feet.

When hitting from the rough where the grass is growing in the direction of the hole, use a more lofted club. Keep in mind that when the grass is growing away from the hole or target, the grass will create more resistance. In this case, it may be best to use a wedge to lay up your shot. No sense in trying to work against the nature of the grass!

Playing from the Bunker

When you encounter the dreaded bunker during your round, there are a number of ball position scenarios that affect the way you play your way out of the bunker. Let’s look at some rules and guidelines you can follow to help you with different bunker situations:
  • It is against the rules to let the clubhead touch the sand in the bunker as you address the ball or during the course of your backswing. Doing so will result in a penalty stroke. So be sure to keep your clubhead a good distance above the sand as you attempt your shot.
  • If you have ever landed your ball in a puddle in a bunker, you may have felt helpless. However, the opposite is true. If your ball lands in a bunker that is completely waterlogged, you have three options.
    • You can play your ball as it lies, getting wet in the process.
    • You can remove the ball and place it in the shallowest part of the water in the bunker (but no closer to the hole).
    • You can completely remove the ball from the bunker and take a drop outside the bunker. However, doing so will result in a penalty stroke as you have just deemed your submerged ball as in an unplayable lie.
  • There are always times where you find you and your buddies hit your balls in the same spot. Most of the time it is not a problem, but in the bunker, you never know what the sand will do. If you have two balls in the bunker you have some options as well.
    • If you feel that one shot will not affect the others lie, then play on as you normally would.
    • If not, decide which of the two is most practical to play first. Lift the other ball out of the way and mark it with a tee peg.
    • Once the ball is hit, replace the second ball in the exact condition as it was in when you picked it up. If it was a perfect lie, rake the sand then replace it. If it was a plugged ball, it must be plugged upon replacement.
  • Last, I think we all have landed a ball up against a bunker rake before, it happens far too often. If your ball comes to rest against a rake you are entitled to relief.
    • Before you lift and move the rake out of the way, if there is a chance that your ball might move, mark it with a tee peg.
    • Remember that you are allowed to PLACE your ball in the sand when you replace it in the sand, recreating the original lie as accurately as possible.
    • You are not required to drop the ball in the sand.

Water Hazards

Every golfer’s worst nightmare lies in a place where the grass ends and the water starts. Nobody likes the sound of a fresh Pro-V splashing in the pond, but it happens to the best of us.

When Playing Your Shot

You have three options:
  • You can play your ball as it lies without any penalty. This is the most difficult shot since the ball is either submerged very deeply under water, or it can just be very messy. The only time that playing the shot is best is if the ball is lying in the grassy area surrounding the water within the hazard. Remember, you may not ground the club prior to your shot, like in a bunker, not can you make contact with the hazard while taking your practice swing.
  • Next, you may drop the ball behind the hazard directly behind where it entered the hazard. You must keep the point of entry directly between the hole and where you drop the ball. Taking a drop will result in a one stroke penalty. But at least you can stay dry. This option is most popular since most balls shot into a water hazard cannot be found or retrieved.
  • Your third option is to go back to the spot where you played the offending shot, known as a stroke-and-distance penalty. You must add a stroke to your score, and forfeit the distance gained as well.

Lateral Hazards

Lateral hazards are a bit different and have two other options with them:
  • You may drop the ball within two club lengths of the point where the ball last crossed the boundary of the hazard.
  • You may also drop the ball at the point opposite side of the hazard also within two club lengths.
Either option will still result in you having to take a one stroke penatly. But remember, these two options are extra ones based on your situation. You may still exercise any of the three above if desired.

The Chip Shot and the Lie of the Ball

Being able to judge how the golf ball will behave when playing a chip shot is just as important as the shot itself. Spin, trajectory, and roll factor into effectively getting the ball to land close to the hole or preferably in the hole.

The lie of the ball has a significant impact on its flight through the air. A bare lie or one where there is little or no grass beneath the ball or where the grass is tightly mown, produces a lower than normal ball flight.

The ball will come out of a longer grass lie with a relatively high flight but with a lot less backspin because grass gets between the club face and the ball. Let’s look at a few situations.Give the Gift of Golf

Upslope Impact: Using a less lofted club on an upslope results in a shorter, softer swing making it easier to control the distance of the ball. Position the ball forward in your stance. The ball will shoot forward on a fairly low trajectory with little backspin making it easier to judge how far the ball with run.

Downslope Impact: On a downslope lie, the ball generally comes out on a low trajectory, making it difficult to control. Select a club with as much loft as possible to compensate. Generally, a sand wedge does the job. It provides some additional control while creating enough elevation on the ball to ensure a soft landing. Position the ball back in your stance.

The Drill: Before chipping, visualize the shot taking into account what the ball will do; identify an exact landing spot, preferably on the green to get an even bounce; and select the club that best fits the lie.