The game of golf has evolved so much that it is almost unrecognizable when compared to the way it was played thirty years ago.
I remember as a young amateur being taught that rhythm, timing and balance were paramount for an effective golf swing, along with decent technique if one wanted to hit the ball consistently out of the middle of the clubface. There are some great examples of these philosophies from the 70’s and 80’s – the swings of players like Bobby Cole, Denis Watson, Tom Weiscopf and Nicky Price were prime examples of this concept. Nicky had a quicker tempo than the others but his rhythm, timing and balance were impeccable – in fact I don’t think I personally ever played with a better ball striker than Nick Price and during my playing career I was privileged to have played with 9 different world number one ranked players.
So why has the game changed so much? Improved physical conditioning obviously plays a role but another key reason is equipment – balls fly further, straighter and more consistently. Shafts which are the engines of the club are longer and lighter allowing the golfer to produce more speed. Add to this today’s Clubheads, which are so well designed with perimeter weighting, centre of gravity and moment of inertia all scientifically optimized.
A few of you reading this article will remember the beautiful persimmon wooden heads that were a third of the size of today’s metal heads – which is why a golfer had to swing with rhythm, timing and balance – but in this area of golf today size matters.
The modern driver with its large dimensions has allowed the designers to make the clubs so forgiving that a golfer can strike the ball with almost any part of the clubface and get a fair result. This change in Clubhead design has allowed the modern golfer to swing the club faster with the knowledge that the equipment will assist them if they miscue the strike.
So how does this affect the serious golfer? A sound technique will always be important but a high clubhead speed is required to be competitive in the modern game and one needs power to generate that speed, watching the pro’s on TV you will have noticed that 300m drives have become the norm. Tiger Woods became the physical benchmark for the modern player and players like Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and even Rory McIlroy have all increased their power to be competitive.
Have a look at our Biokineticists article to understand what power is and how you can develop it.