It's football season.
I love football.
I played collegiately at the University of St. Thomas (as long as we consider being a kicker "playing football").
It's right up there with golf for me in terms of the my fandom.
The NFL Rookie Combine
As part of the draft process in the spring, the NFL rookie combine has grown in popularity in the last decade or so.
For those that don't know what this is, basically, coaches put rookies through a myriad of physical tests in an attempt to understand their athleticism better.
For example, every year the NFL rookies will complete the following:
40 yard dash
225 lb bench press reps until failure
Various change of direction running drills
And a few more positional specific tests
Now, one could argue the true value that these physical tests actually bring to the table.
Do they truly show who will succeed in the NFL and who will not?
To be honest, I don't think so.
The list below shows the fastest 40 yard dash times as of March 7th 2022 (from cbssports.com)
For those that know the NFL will quickly realize after seeing this list that 40 yard dash time has little correlation to being a great NFL player.
The purpose of today's article is to create a combine for GOLFERS.
What tests would I use to try and showcase the highest level of athleticism as it relates to the sport of golf?
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The first test, and probably the most important, would be a speed test.
If we are solely testing physical ability (as opposed to skill or technical proficiency), then the best way to test this would be to grab a 300-400 gram weighted stick and swing it as fast as you possibly can.
What speeds can you physically generate without worrying about ball contact?
Something like this...
Expression of Power
To test a golfer's ability to express power in all directions, what type of tests could we use?
I thought of three.
First, a vertical jump.
Vertical jumping, while not directly related to swinging a golf club, showcases an athletes ability to produce vertical force quickly.
It is a very athletic movement that requires proper timing and coordination.
It's a great general test of vertical power output.
Second, a medicine ball rotational throw for distance / speed.
A medicine ball rotational throw is an excellent tool to test rotational power.
It requires slightly higher amounts of force than a weighted stick swing, due to the fact that the medicine ball is heavier than a weighted stick.
It also brings in an element of rotational coordination, which could be more transferable to the rotational nature of the golf swing.
I would recommend utilizing a 10-16 lb medicine ball, as I have found this to be a nice sweet spot between maximizing velocity and force output.
Third, a medicine ball chest throw for distance / speed.
The horizontal pressing motion has been correlated in research with golf swing speed (1).
We have vertical and rotational power checked off of the list above, and now with the medicine ball chest pass we can test horizontal power production as well.
Similar to the rotational medicine ball throw, I would recommend utilizing a 10-16 lb medicine ball.
Lastly, and probably least important in terms of the transferability to the golf course, is a test of strength.
In order to test a golfers ability to produce large amounts of force, I would include three tests of max force production.
Rotational Core Strength
First, I would include an overcoming isometric rotational test. Basically, you try and rotate against an immovable force as hard as you possibly can. This is probably the best way to test our rotational core strength.
Here's a good look at one way to do it.
Lower Body Strength
In my opinion, THE HEXBAR DEADLIFT is the best tool to test lower body strength for golfers.
It challenges the lower body as well as the entirety of the posterior chain (glutes, low back, lats).
I would have golfers complete a 3-5 rep max (as opposed to 1 rep max).
Upper Body Strength
Lastly, to test upper body strength, I would have athletes complete a max loaded pull-up.
The lats play a critical role in the creation of force during the golf swing - making them an important muscle group.
Further, the pull-up is a great test of upper body strength.
So, to wrap it up, I would have a total of 7 tests of physical athleticism in my golf combine:
Weighted stick swing speed
Rotational medicine ball throw
Medicine ball chest pass
Overcoming rotational isometric
Hexbar deadlift 3-5 rep max
Max loaded pull-up
Would this tell me who the best golfer is?
Not even close... just like the NFL combine doesn't tell us who the best football player is.
HOWEVER, it would give us a general understanding of the isolated physical abilities each golfer possesses.
It can also help shape our physical training that we complete, on the path to uplifting our athleticism as it relates to the sport of golf!
Who knows, maybe I'll have SCRATCH Athletes test it out in the future ;)
Founder and Head Coach - SCRATCHGolfTraining.com
Carter is a strength and conditioning coach out of the Milwaukee area working with athletes, in-person and virtually. Having helped hundreds of athletes, ranging from the middle school to the professional level and beyond, Carter brings a breadth of experience and knowledge to every athlete he works with. He launched SCRATCHGolfTraining.com in the summer of 2021 to help empower golfers to greater performance and longevity.
Carter believes ALL golfers are athletes, and they should be training accordingly.
Become a SCRATCH Athlete today, and start training like the ATHLETE you are!