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PGA Tour trainer: This is an underrated secret to hitting the ball longer

April 18, 2019

Tony Ruggiero spends his days helping golf’s best players get even better. The GOLF Top 100 Teacher has seen it all, and on this week’s episode of his “Tour Coach” podcast, he sat down with PGA Tour trainer Kolby Tullier, and what followed was an enlightening discussion about distance — and where it comes from.

So, what’s the key to more distance? Many golfers think it’s brute strength, like how much you can lift and squat. That certainly plays a role, of course, but the answer isn’t quite that simple.

The exchange comes at about the 8:30 mark:

Kolby Tullier: “It doesn’t do us any good getting somebody strong. Getting strong is easy. I say this all the time…getting somebody strong is not hard. Placing a load, your body adapting to a load, that’s just basic bio-mechanics. It’s just going to happen.”

Tony Ruggiero: “Anybody can do it.”

Kolby Tullier: “Correct. Now, take someone who is strong from a physical standpoint but from a functional standpoint is completely dysfunctional. It doesn’t matter if you can squat a bunch of weight or if you can or you can lift a bunch of weight. If you can’t get your body functional enough where you can maintain stability or maintain balance to be able to withstand that type of load, in a golf swing it doesn’t really matter how strong you are. If you can’t unload and re-load, or have the balance and proprioception that we work with, all that strength is just going to hurt you. It’s going to mess with you. It’s going to mess with your tempo even more, they’re going to have trouble just holding their finish because they’re going to be so out of whack, because so many muscles that aren’t firing which should be firing and it’s throwing their balance completely off.”

You can listen to the full podcast below:

It’s a fascinating insight that could help amateur golfers. It’s why a player like Justin Thomas — who weighs just 160 pounds — ranks 8th and 11th in PGA Tour Driving Distance coming into this season and can smash it past more muscular amateurs who don’t know how to use their bodies as effectively.

So, what’s the lesson for amateur golfers?

If you’re trying to hit the ball farther, don’t immediately reach for the dumbbells. As Ruggiero and Tullier said, bulking up won’t help if you don’t know how to actually exert your weight in a way that’s beneficial to you — so you don’t end up falling over as you swing.

The next time you’re in the gym, focus on how your body functions. Work with somebody who can help design a program that will emphasize maintaining your balance and improving your stability as you work on other exercises, like transferring your body weight. Train your body to function more efficiently, and you’ll start hitting the ball longer without pumping iron.