We have spent the last month talking about speed and power production and how to incorporate that into a training program. If you watched the US Open this past weekend, you saw how advantageous strength and power can be. The style of play where you just hit it as far as you can and deal with whatever lies you have hasn’t been very well received by traditional golfers, but we can see that it can clearly be effective. Sure, power is great for hitting the ball farther but just as important (or more important) was the strength to hit out of that thick rough. Even if you can’t hit the ball a mile I am sure you have been in thick rough a time or two. There are 2 areas of strength that are critical for trying to power through those tough lies, grip strength and pull strength.
Grip strength is something we have covered in a previous article so I’m not going to go too in-depth. Grip strength is actually one of the areas we test that has the largest discrepancy between Tour Pros and Amateurs. If you ask most Tour Pros how firm do they feel they are gripping the club most will say around 50%. The problem for amateurs is that a Tour Pros 50% is almost 100% that of an amateur’s grip strength. If you have ever tried to squeeze the life out of your grip then you know that drastically limits how you are able to control the club. So the stronger your grip is, the lighter you can grip the club but still have control over the face as it slides through the rough.
Pull strength is exactly what it sounds like, how much weight you can pull. We test this by doing a standing 1-arm cable row. The minimum benchmark we aim for is 30% of your body weight for 8 reps. So if you weigh 200 lbs. you should be able to pull at least 60 lbs. with each arm for 8 repetitions.
There is definitely not a shortage in the variety of pull exercises that you can incorporate. My favorite, however, is the same exercise that we test, the standing 1-arm row. This exercise is great because it incorporates the golf posture within the exercise. So not only do you have to work at the pulling motion, but you also have to work at maintaining that good posture.
Interesting fact about pull strength, the faster you swing the club, the more pull strength you need. I was visiting the Titleist Performance Institute last year and I saw this very intricate physics equation written on a dry erase board. Without trying to get into a physics lesson, the weight of your club head creates centrifugal force as you are going through your swing. The faster you swing the club, the more centrifugal force is generated. In order to maintain posture throughout the swing, you must create a counterforce to that centrifugal force. That counterforce is a pulling force. As an example, if you have a clubhead speed of 100 mph you need to create 87 lbs of pull against it to maintain posture. We see this becoming a factor in a lot of junior golfers. Junior golfers are swinging at high clubhead speeds but have not yet developed the mass and strength to maintain position. Pull strength is beneficial for all golfers to workout but especially the younger golfer.