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Divot Diagnostics

Golfers have been reading divots for years. Golf teaching pros and experienced golfers love to “read the divot” for insights into the swing. Divots show direction, path of club, mishits, consistency and ball position. Divots give clues to angle of attack, swing issues like over-the-top, hanging back, lag, brand of club, what you ate for breakfast, your mood, etc.… you get the point. In other words, divots tell a lot and reading them is important stuff. Workouts change divot patterns, and I had a recent experience which showed a dramatic difference in divot patterns after a workout. Fitness professionals rely on muscle development, better movement and other performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of our training but we also rely on client results and comments about how fitness impacts sports performance. Last week I saw tangible evidence of the impact of the strength workout developed for touring pro Roger Sloan. Roger and I scheduled a morning training session that included Roger’s golf instructor, Jeff Barton from Preston Trail in Dallas. I took them through the daily mobility routine of controlled articular rotations (CARs) before the strength workout. Roger does CARs daily for joint control, mobility/strength and injury prevention. Our strength workouts are comprised of exercises that create force in the directions that are specific to golf as well as corrective exercises for the imbalances that are unique to Roger. Born in Canada, Roger came to the USA to play golf at University of Texas—El Paso, then won on the tour and achieved full status for the 2014-2015 PGA Tour season. Roger came to me a few months ago after playing his rookie season on the PGA Tour and losing his card. Through assessments and training we found some hip mobility imbalances. I built a workout plan for Roger that addressed mobility of hips as well as overall core stability/speed and power in all the directions needed for golf. Specifically, we drilled down to create a better lead hip/knee/foot position at impact and follow-through as well as more speed through the trunk in the downswing. Great stuff that has helped Roger have a more athletic swing and eliminate some of the instability and mishits he experienced in the previous two seasons. After the morning workout that day, we went out to the driving range to the same spot where Roger had hit balls prior to the workout. Roger began hitting iron shots and created a new divot line. I listened as Jeff coached and commented on Roger’s swing. We discussed the lead leg, foot position and various other issues which have improved over the past two months. We worked with the FMS band on Roger’s hip during more iron shots. The band training on the hip gave Roger the feel he needed and the lead leg and foot position showed even more improvement. Jeff liked what he saw in Roger’s swing.

Jeff also liked what he saw in the new divots. Jeff noted that the after–workout divots were much better than the before–workout divots. The before–workout divots were too deep and not consistent as seen in the bottom right of the photo. After the workout, the divots were shallower and more consistent as seen next to Roger in the photo. Noting the difference in the divots before and after the workout confirms what many of us know–working out benefits the golf swing. Warm–ups and strength workouts achieve several goals; they prepare the joints and muscles for movement, activate the key muscles for the swing and groove in good sequence and movement patterns. You may be surprised to learn it is common for tour players to work out before a competitive round. Tried and tested many times, the best in the world know how to prepare their bodies. The proof is in the results, the feel, the swing and even in the divots!

- Pam Owens

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