Amateur golfers are famously restless in their pursuit of the one trick that will magically transform their swing from public course hazard into seasoned tour pro. The pursuit often leads them to expensive private lessons, new golf clubs or any number of bizarre pre-shot routines. But many amateurs overlook the source of their power or lack thereof – their body.
Alison Regal, Sports Performance Specialist Lead at the Hybl Sports and Medicine Center, hopes to bring a fresh perspective to golf swing analysis. She’s helping amateur golfers fine-tune their biomechanics through a combination of strength and conditioning training, motion capture technology and a golf simulator experience.
Regal, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and therapeutic pain specialist, starts each golf assessment session with a questionnaire that asks participants to include their golf history, previous injuries, current fitness level and goals for the session.
Once those benchmarks are established, participants are analyzed using DARI, a motion capture platform that gives instant feedback on the user’s motion health, including mobility, alignment, and force.
“The nice thing with DARI is that we can get some objective numbers, so if I’m looking at their shoulder external rotation, for example, I can go into DARI, and it will tell me how many degrees they can rotate their shoulder,” Regal said.
After the DARI analysis, participants move to the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) screen, which assesses users’ thoracic spine rotation and external rotation, which are significant sources of power in a golf swing.
Next, participants are asked to hit 10 quality shots on the TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor, the Hybl Center’s state-of-the-art golf simulator. The TrackMan is regarded as one of the top simulators in the golf industry and commonly used by PGA Tour professionals. The simulator is capable of tracking shot trajectory, club speed, ball speed, and carry, among other shot details.
Regal records the average club speed, ball speed, and carry of those 10 shots before moving to the final portion of the session, which includes a variety of physical exercises or measurements.
“We go through vertical jump, medicine ball shot put to assess the rotational power, single leg squat for lower body strength and stability assessment, pushups and then a TRX Row,” Regal said. “The thing in the golf world is that I might get a 21-year-old who’s super athletic, but I might get a 78-year-old who can barely balance on one leg, so we try to establish what those performance metrics and performance tests are so that both populations can do it.”
One of the most common physical limitations that Regal has identified during the sessions is poor balance from a lack of leg strength.
“A lot of golfers can’t balance on one leg, and oftentimes what you’re doing when you’re following through on your golf swing is transferring your weight from your back leg to your front leg. So if a golfer isn’t comfortable with balancing on one leg, they might not get that proper weight shift as they’re hitting the golf ball, which can minimize how far they can actually hit the ball.”
She also points to a loss of mobility in the mid spine as a detriment to performance.
“From a general mobility and agility perspective, we tend to sit at a desk, and we lose good posture, so a lot of golfers will lose mobility in their mid spine region, and that’s where a lot of their power generation comes from is that rotation in their mid spine.”
Regal stresses that she is not a golf professional and sessions are designed to offer insight on muscular and strength imbalances that limit golf swing performance. At the end of a session, participants are given exercises to do at home to improve their strength and conditioning. They are then encouraged to use the TrackMan again to see if their performance has improved or pain has decreased.
The golf fitness assessment is open to anyone. If you’re interested in an assessment, email [email protected] or call 719-776-4928 to schedule an appointment.
About the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center
The William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center is a collaborative partnership between UCCS and Centura Health that brings together world-class clinical practice, health sciences education and research. The Hybl Center is the academic home of three UCCS bachelor’s degrees and four master’s degrees. It also hosts healthcare services provided by Centura Health, including Centura Orthopedics, Centura Sports Medicine, sports performance training, physical therapy, state-of-the-art imaging, nutrition services and more. Learn more about the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center at UCCS.