Spend 10 minutes looking through a golf magazine or listening to PGA Tour commentary and you’ll read or hear about the great distances modern professional golfers hit the ball and speculation as to how much weight the now athletic looking players must lift.
The age-old question remains "how to hit the ball further".
It’s a question that Matt Green, head of the acclaimed golf program at Precision Athletica, is asked on a near daily basis.
Green has spent his career working with golfers from weekend warriors through to elite amateur and professional players such as his most recent crop that includes two-time tour winner Jordan Zunic, Golf Australia rookie squad member Cameron Davis and leading Australian Amateurs Travis Smyth, Harrison Endycott and Daniel Gale.
"People assume that you have to be stronger to hit the ball further, but what you need is speed. Speed only comes from good movement patterns, and then getting more efficient and stronger in those movement patterns. The under pinning foundation of efficiency in good movement patterns is mobility and control," Green said.
While strength in the correct areas benefits, the way a player moves and can control their movement is key. It’s certainly true that many of the big hitting tour players are getting stronger and more athletic, but it's strength coupled with mobility and functional movement that’s the secret.
This fact is clearly emphasised by NSW state player, high performance squad member and top-20-ranked Australian amateur Gale.
Gale has been working with Green for several years, but back in August 2013 he was a promising junior golfer ranked 60th in the country and playing off a handicap of one. Yet by his own admission, although active and reasonably athletic, he paid no attention to his diet and never pushed himself.
He weighed 98kg, had 28 per cent body fat, had a golf club head speed of 110mph and average driving distance of 257m.
"Having some exposure to Matt Green and the top golfers he worked with was an eye-opener for me. It triggered something in me where I said, `Enough was enough'," Gale said.
"I didn’t want to be the way I was and I wanted to start pushing myself to really make some positive changes."
Known for his dedication, Gale set about working by his own volition on fixing his diet to begin an impressive body transformation.
By March 2014 Gale was hardly recognisable, weighing 72kg and with the start of better mobility patterns, he had dropped his handicap to +1.5 and for the first time gained selection into the Golf NSW high performance program.
Spurred on by his improvements, Gale began lifting heavy weights and bulked up considerably before coming back to see Green at Precision Athletica, an Institute of Sport based at Sydney's Olympic Park.
"When we saw Daniel again in 2015 he was outwardly a very fit and athletic looking sportsman who could have played multiple codes," Green said.
"Whilst he was making some improvements on the course through hard work (club head speed up to 118mph as an example), our assessments showed that he was lacking in mobility, specifically around the hips, shoulders and upper back."
The message from Green and the Precision Athletica team was clear: it was time for Daniel to put down the heavy weights and get back to focusing on improving his mobility and functional movement control.
In the next few months, Gale took the advice and re-focused his efforts.
By early 2016 Gale weighed 82kg, had a body fat of eight per cent and had taken his club head speed from 118mph to 124mph, resulting in an average driving distance of 281m — an increase of 24m.
All without touching a heavy weight in the gym.
He finished fourth in the prestigious Riversdale Cup, reached a handicap of +4.8 and moved into the top 10 amateurs in Australia.
Weight and body fat isn’t the key to the results, it’s a component and by product of healthy living. These figures will naturally fluctuate with travel, events and schedules.
Gale along with Green, the team at Precision Athletica, his coach Paul Latham and NSW national coach Dean Kinney, are now working on his shot consistency and part of the process is now reining back his club head speed to 120mph to produce a more controlled ball flight.
The work Gale has diligently completed means he can produce consistently greater club head speed, controlled and varied shots, along with longer ball carries and total distance.
His time in the gym now combines many control and movement exercises along with relevant weight work done in a manner that benefits a golfer’s physical needs.
Dedication and hard work underpin Gale’s approach to his golf — he has made some significant strides forward and the results speak for themselves both physically and through his wins on the golf course, including the NSW win in the 2016 Interstate Series.
If you’re a golfer looking for extra distance, consistency and mobility, perhaps it’s time to consider an approach to your practice that includes relevant functional movement exercises to complement your overall training routine.
Matt Green and the Precision Athletica team can be contacted by calling 02 9764 5787 or at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.