Straight shooting

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am


You've heard it from your father: stand up straight; stop slouching! It's great advice for golfers, too. Good posture allows for balance, the foundation of every good swing.

By keeping your balance, you can deliver the clubhead to the ball with both speed and accuracy. Without balance, the swing loses tempo and falls apart.

'It's not often that you see a pro hitting a bad shot when they have stayed on balance. After most poor shots, the player finishes off-balance,' says touring professional James Stewart, executive director at the J&J Golf Academy at Discovery Bay Golf Club.

'If you make a conscious effort to stay balanced, you'll be surprised at how many good shots you hit.'

To enhance his stability, former Hong Kong No1 Stewart does balance and posture exercises regularly under golf biomechanics coach Ross Eathorne at Optimum Performance Studio in Central.

Eathorne says most golfers have poor posture - even professionals. 'I am amazed at their skill level - that they can drive the ball so far without pain,' he says. 'Imagine how good they'd be if they spent three to nine months correcting their posture.'

Imagine how good a golfer you could be if you worked on your posture, too. Try these movements demonstrated by Stewart.

Bent over row

What it works: improves postural endurance of the back, butt and hamstrings, and strengthens the shoulder girdle.

Method: bend slightly at the waist. Ensure chest is up to keep lumbar spine angle aligned. Lift dumbbells towards chest over two counts, squeezing shoulder blades together. Return over two counts to the start position. A set consists of eight to 12 repetitions; do two or three sets with one-minute rest in between.

Prone cobra

What it works: conditions the postural muscles and re-establishes optimal spinal alignment for all of the golf clubs.

Method: lie face down. Lift shoulders, turning elbows outwards. Keep chest open. Hold for 30 seconds, then return to start position. Rest for 15 seconds and repeat. A set consists of four to eight repetitions; do one or two sets with one-minute rest.

Forward Swiss ball roll

What it works: strengthens abdominals, hip flexors and shoulder extensors. Good for stabilising the spine through the full range of club lengths and maintaining spine angle for the duration of the swing.

Method: kneel on ground with forearms resting on ball. Slowly roll ball forward, keeping abdominals engaged. Return slowly to start position and repeat. A set consists of six to 10 repetitions; do two or three sets with one-minute rest.

Horse stance

What it works: trains all key stabiliser muscles in the spine; particularly good for those who experience lower back pain while putting.

Method: kneel on ground with hands on the floor. Extend right leg out and left arm, keeping them the same height as the hips. Ensure the spine and heel are neutral. Hold for 10 seconds, then return to start position and repeat on opposite side. A set consists of 10 repetitions; do one or two sets with one- minute rest.

Russian twist

What it works: strengthens core muscles and lower back stability.

Method: Lie face up with shoulders on ball and feet on the ground. Keep abdominal muscles engaged. With palms together, point hands upwards. Rotate to the left over two counts, and to the right over two counts. A set consists of 10 to 12 repetitions; do two or three sets with one-minute rest.

Kneeling on Swiss ball

What it works: conditions balance, dynamic posture and co-ordination; will help improve putting and chipping the most.

Method: kneel on ball for one to three minutes.