This back-saving technique is the best way to pick your ball out of the hole

Picking up your golf ball from the cup can put more stress on your back than you think.

Getty Images

This article was published in partnership with GolfForever.

***

Think about something you do every single round you play, no matter what. Not just every round, but every hole. It’s become so second nature, at this point, that you don’t even think about it. And you don’t mind either. Truth is, you’re happy to do it.

I’m not talking about your golf swing. I’m talking about the simple act of picking your ball up out of the cup. It may seem like an innocuous act — and in some ways it is. But it can also be a significant source of wear and tear on your body which, if done incorrectly, can cause you pain on the course and shorten your golf career.

I’ve had periodic bouts of lower back pain myself, and the truth is I never once stopped to consider how something like picking my ball up out of the hole could be contributing to that issue.

Here at GOLF.com we’re partnering with GolfForever around the New Year to offer our readers an exclusive $20 off special to the platform. In my ongoing quest for more swing speed this offseason, I’ve been spending time in GolfForever’s digital fitness platform recently, and I must say that I’ve been genuinely impressed by the content. The health-and-wellness focused app and digital platform features video content on a wide array of subjects from various experts, including former British Open winner Justin Leonard. Once you subscribe you’re given a digital fitness assessment so you can have a program tailored to your strengths and weaknesses.

Anyway, you can take advantage of our exclusive offer below.

All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy a linked product, GOLF.COM may earn a fee. Pricing may vary.

12-month GolfForever subscription

$79 using exclusive promo code: GOLF79
Subscribe Now

One of the experts featured in the program is its creator, Jeremy James, DC, CSCS, the former Director of the Aspen Club Back Institute who has spent decades working with a wide range of professional athletes. He’s the driving force behind GolfForever’s hundreds of videos that make up a golf-focused exercise plan which is unique to each user and provided daily. The program also has a section dedicated to practical tips to help you stay pain free, and in one of them, he explains how picking up your ball out of the hole could be slowly causing you injury.

The Wrong Way: Bending from the back

As James demonstrates here, picking up your golf ball like this puts your lumbar spine in a position where it essentially becomes the hinge between your upper and lower body. The muscles in your lower back become responsible for lifting the weight of your torso into an upright position, which will gradually cause them to break down.

“That can cause lots of problems,” James says. “It puts lots of stress on your lumbar discs, joints and ligaments.

The Right Way: The ‘pendulum’ technique

Instead, James recommends using the “pendulum” technique to get your ball out of the cup. Using your putter for balance, you swing your leg back, using it to counter-balance your torso as you lower yourself down, and then swing it forward gently as you raise yourself back up. (Looks kind of like a single-leg deadlift, right?)

“That keeps the harmful loads from being placed on your lumbar spine,” James explains.

Something to keep in mind the next time you play. This is just a taste of the customized program every member receives to prime your body for the game. For more, head over to GolfForever’s website.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Game Improvement Content at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.