A Good Walk Spoiled | Pro-Motion Physical Therapy


It’s no secret that golf is a difficult game. Of an estimated 40 million people worldwide who play golf in some fashion, no more than 10,000 can consistently shoot par for any given course.

Why, considering the difficulty, do we even play golf in the first place? Certainly other activities with such a dismal success rate would cause diminishing returns in the number of active participants!

But golf remains a popular weekend activity. So why do we play? Even more, why do we spend so much time looking to improve, whether by a new driver, golf lessons, or swing contraptions?

Seemingly, there’s an element of humility the game forces us to accept and we can’t wait to return once more to this humbling place. One good shot gives us the motivation to come back to reproduce it again even though it may be surrounded by several bad shots. We learn to improve our game and develop resiliency in the process.

Finding the Perfect Golf Swing

Much like other sports, there’s a common belief that success occurs when a singular technique is repeated perfectly no matter the athlete. There’s one way to shoot a basketball, one way to hit a curveball, one way to throw a spiral on the football field. Even more in golf, there is a supposition that there’s one perfect golf swing.

While we recognize the importance of practicing perfect technique, we also note the importance of connecting technique with an individual’s functional ability. There’s no single way to swing a golf club applicable to every person, but there is one way to swing a golf club perfect for you.

At Pro-Motion, we align our theory with Nike Golf (NG360) and believe each golfer is a unique athlete and each swing is uniquely produced as an outcome of the various constraints acting on performance in the best possible way (Newell, 1986; Newell, van Emmerik & McDonald, 1989).

But what does this mean, practically?

Understanding Constraints

A constraint is the internal and/or external feature that sets the
boundaries within which a golfer must perform. For example, if you are running down a path and suddenly you come to a tree fallen across that path, you are forced to respond and change your actions based on the constraint the tree produces. You may jump over it, slow down and climb over it, attempt to walk around it, or turn around. What you choose is based on matching your perceived abilities to the task of maneuvering around the tree and the environment the tree has created.

Now for a similar challenge: you are running down a path and you see a tree down. This time, as you begin to analyze your risks and rewards of going over or around the tree, you have to factor in that you have a dislocated shoulder. The limited motion and strength deficits imposed by these shoulder constraints will help guide your movement decision. These same kinds of constraints influence a golf swing in one of three ways: the task (what club), the individual (flexibility, mobility, strength, power), and the environment (sand trap, tee box, fairway, rough).

Taken together, these constraints make a perfect golf swing untenable because the confluence of constraints impinging on performance is patently individual-specific and fluctuates continuously over time.

So how can a golfer improve?

The Perfect Golf Swing, for You!

We use the NG360 evaluation to identify a golfer’s constraints, the swing faults that are a result of loss of motion, stability, strength, balance, and muscular control and design exercises to eliminate these faults. The golf swing requires several muscles working together and the exercises reflect this principle. It is a different approach than the golf pro takes. He or she is looking at your swing and measuring it against some model of what a swing should look like. The teaching pro is looking for deviations from the normal and then helping you learn the correct swing.

The NG360 is a window into a golfer’s unique movement patterns and the constraints impinging on the golfer. Golf often provides humbling moments for those who partake in the sport. At the core, golf is an athletic game and it requires athletic movement. It makes no sense to spend thousands on equipment without focusing on the person behind the equipment.

Each golfer is a unique athlete with a unique swing. Success — or more accurately, a round closer to par — means addressing the constraints unique to your swing, which keeps you from consistently performing the techniques unique to you and your swing.

Have you been suffering from a slice for far too long? Maybe it’s time to readdress your swing!