WHY STRENGTH IS THE MISSING INGREDIENT TO LONGER DRIVES
There is no denying that distance matters.
Indeed, of the top 10 players in the world right now 8 are in the top 35 of driving distance on the PGA tour and of the two that aren’t one is Henrik Stenson who basically hits a 3 wood off every tee these days. Similarly, research has an increase in driving distance of 17metres will reduce your score over a round by 2.5 shots - maybe not listening to my childhood coach when he would spout that old adage ‘drive for show, putt for dough’ was the right idea after all!
When we talk about increasing distance what we’re really talk about is increasing clubhead speed. Clubhead speed can be increased by equipment changes, swing changes, etc, but ultimately the governor of clubhead is your body and the amount of force your body can in the split-second golf swing.
Despite the desires of almost every golfer on the planet very little is incontrovertibly known about getting faster in any sport and even less so in golf, the research simply isn’t there.
Lots of folks will talk about the latest fads to get you swinging faster— be sceptical; very few have any real research evidence behind them at this stage. Just because something is a hot-button topic and everyone on social media is talking about it doesn't mean it will work. It just means lots of people will try it and then move on to the next latest craze.
So what will work?
The answer is really quite simple, if you want to get faster, you must get stronger in the areas that produce the body's horsepower, specifically the glutes and other muscles around the hips.
Now there are some here who will get up in arms about the many other aspects of speed, and they’re right. There are many other trainable aspects of speed and the tour pro with solid ingrained technique and who’s built good baseline strength levels should train these. However, far too many times amateur golfers lack the base of strength they need to swing fast, but nevertheless attempt to use the advanced training methods of tour pros to get faster.
Less strength equals less speed
Put simply, in most cases the reason you're slow is because you are weak.
Yes, you must work on swing technique, but without adding horsepower to the body, you'll always be limiting the potential benefits. Think of it like a car: You can speed up the transition, increase the efficiency of the engine, add slick tyres to reduce friction, etc, but ultimately until you put more horsepower in the engine your speed will always be limited. We are no different.
If you imagine a continuum with absolute speed at one end and absolute speed at the other, the golf swing is obviously a light implement activity and sits on the absolute speed end of that continuum. Intuitively then, it makes sense to train at the maximal speed end in preparation for golf. However most golfers spend almost of all of there training time at the maximal speed end of the continuum (i.e. swinging a club), and so the weakest link on that continuum is maximal strength. As Mike Boyle puts it “strength is the road to speed and power”
Strength will give you the horsepower, power exercises such as jumps and med-ball throws will teach you to use that horsepower quickly and learning how to swing correctly will allow you to use it most efficiently. However, learning how to swing correctly without more horsepower will always limit the potential increases in performance.
For most then, it's pretty simple. If you want more speed, get more strength.
So what should you do?
First things first - you need lots and lots of posterior chain, in particular glute work. Perform movements like Split-squats, deadlifts and carries, which are key developers of horsepower. You should also include a boatload of bridging and single-leg RDL variations.
Video Credit: T-nation
The next key is progressive overload, that’s pretty simple in practice. Stick to the same basic movements above, be consistent with them over time and try to add weight to the bar, sets or reps each time you do them.
Once you have a general strength base built you can use all the other drills and techniques, such as jumps, med-ball throws, speed trainers like Superspeed Golf, etc, you like. But remember
strength first—not the other way around.