Let’s face it, you can’t WOD all day every day. Not even Rich Froning can do that. You have to venture outside the gym/box/garage every now and then. One of my favorite outside activities is playing golf. Golf has become even better lately now that I’m taking my CrossFit forged body and skills out on the course with me. You can reap WOD benefits too! Here are six ways that CrossFit improves your golf game.
Six Ways CrossFit Improves Your Golf Game
While we have an arsenal of clubs to unleash holy hell upon those little white balls, most golf swings involve the same fundamentals. CrossFit benefits also span the myriad of golf shots, assisting you from the first tee to the 18th green. Let’s take a ground up approach, starting with our beautiful feet, enclosed in our goofy looking golf shoes.
No matter if you are attempting to crush a 300 yard drive or sink a 3 foot putt, you have to address the golf ball with every shot. It’s like dancing with a girl, you can’t just walk up to her and shake your butt all over her. Well, you could… but you wouldn’t be doing it right. Same with golf, you have to have a set up for your shot.
What’s a common fault with a golf stance setup? Weight in your toes instead of your heels or evenly distributed across your foot. What’s a common fault with a CrossFit stance setup? Too much weight on your toes.
If you’re doing front squats or some power cleans, if you’re toe heavy you’re going to lean forward and lose the weight in front of you. If you have your weight in your toes on your golf swing, you’re liable to come over the top and slice the ball or end up horribly off balance on your follow through.
Get heel heavy in the gym and then go out and replicate that on the course.
Posture And Injury Prevention
CrossFitters have strong cores. They have to, what with all the deadlifts and sit-ups and squats and hollow holds and… well everything!
Think about your golf swing… what is it? If you’re like me, you’re a bunch of disconnected pieces trying to mesh together to make a little white ball find its way into a slightly larger hole. But hey, that’s another story! A golf swing is rotation around your core! All that rotating and swinging can wreck having on your lower back and obliques.
Building a strong core through CrossFit will significantly improve your golf game. Your core will be strengthened to withstand a round of rotating and swinging. Your lower back can handle the bending that is done when addressing the ball and when fishing your ball out of the hole… or out of the water. Whatever. Standing up straighter with a stronger back also will help you keep your swing on plane by not leaning forward and getting weight on your toes, as discussed above! And here you thought those deadlifts were just to lift your golf bag off the ground.
A round of golf takes WAY longer than even your longest CrossFit WOD. However, I’ve never know any round of golf to be as intense as even the shortest CrossFit WOD. All that CrossFit intensity leads to a lot of built up endurance to navigate around a golf course. Let’s face it, even walking 18 holes with clubs is relatively easy compared to burden runs with med balls or weight plates or other sinister objects like ladders or heavy punching bags for instance.
18 holes, 72 strokes… or 80… or 90… or 100+ (no judgement!) can wear you out. The heat of a summer day alone can wear you out on the course. When you CrossFit and workout with an elevated heart rate and in hot temperatures, your body (and mind) is much better prepared to handle the grind of a golf round. Your body feels better. Your muscles feel better. You’ll feel stronger for longer and you’ll still be able to blast those drives on the back nine just as well as the front nine.
Grip And Forearms
Along the same lines as endurance, your grip strength will be infinitely improved with CrossFit. All those pull-ups and rows and again deadlifts aren’t just for show, they’re building up muscles all over the place.
Let’s be real, we all hit a wayward shot or two during a given round. When we hit those shots, they end up in the rough, or worse. Sometimes it takes effort to get the club face down to the ball when it’s in the thick stuff. You need forearm strength to plow through the cabbage and make solid connection with your ball. You need those big solid forearms to rotate the club around or to bulldoze through a sand trap or to leave a spectacular divot that all your buddies can admire and be jealous of.
One thing though, I don’t recommend using the hook grip to hold your clubs… that grip is not taught with golf in mind. Stick with the Vardon.
Ah yes, our good friend mobility. How many of us can’t get to a full top position due to a lack of shoulder flexibility? Perhaps you have tightness from sitting at a desk all day? CrossFit can improve your golf game by helping you get into those golfing positions you need in your swing.
When I started CrossFitting, I couldn’t do an overhead squat. With work on loosening the tissues around my shoulders, I can now fully extend my arms straight above my head. This has helped me reach full extension in my backswing, which leads to more power and more power means more distance and everyone loves more distance!
What about hip mobility? Can you rotate your hips fully to both sides? Getting your hips in sync with your arms is a key to consistent golf swings. You’ll never generate high club head speed without moving those hips. Sitting all day can leave your hips just as locked up as your shoulders. CrossFit can unglue you.
Right, so if nothing else, give CrossFit a chance to help you get your swing in the optimal power position. Get the kinks out of your junky joints and make those tissues pliable like when you were young. But if that still isn’t enough of a reason to let CrossFit improve your golf game, there’s always…
Bigger, Faster, Stronger!
If you say you don’t want more distance on your shots, you’re lying. What will happen if you start lifting weights? You’ll get stronger! When you get stronger, you can swing your golf club faster. You can coil your body and then uncoil it quicker, whipping the club around and imparting all your new strength onto the ball.
The last time I played golf, I flew my pitching wedge too far, actually completely over the green. The very next hole I hit my 7-iron over the green. The hole after that I pared the toughest hole on the course after hitting my drive into the rough and having to muscle up a pretty nice 6-iron. There’s no way that happens if I hadn’t been working out. I basically added a whole club’s worth of distance just from a couple months of CrossFit. 10 yards more! And who knows, it could be more than that. I don’t golf enough to have a super consistent swing so if I had everything in a grove it might be more like two clubs more!
CrossFit is not intended to just affect those minutes that you are actively “doing CrossFit”. No, CrossFit stays with you, it fuels your day as it makes it better. CrossFit follows you into other athletic fields and helps you excel there. I didn’t even consciously think that CrossFit would help improve my golf game. I didn’t think about it while I was driving to the course or warming up or anything. I didn’t think about it until I crushed my wedge over the green. Then I started asking questions. Those questions were answered with one word: CrossFit.
Your turn: Have you ever discovered an unknown increase in skill while playing a sport?