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Efficient Golf Swings: What You’re Not Doing that PGA Pros Are

Phil Mickelson has an efficient golf swing
Phil Mickelson at the 2009 Masters Tournament in Augusta. Photo Credit: Danny E Hooks /

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of blogs by Dr. Jared Hatch on common swing characteristics of golfers and how to improve golf-swing efficiency. 

Spring has finally arrived, and nothing represents springtime for golfers like The Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Many amateur and professional golfers will be glued to their televisions, taking in the majestic beauty of the course as well as watching to see how their favorite golf pros do this Thursday through Sunday.

Many are looking for the swing characteristics of their idols and will try and emulate them on their local courses the following week. Many will say to themselves, “What is it that Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and others do that I can copy in order to be a better and more consistent player?”

Something to note about professional golfers is that all of their swings are different. Bubba does not swing like Jim Furyk, who in turn does not swing like Phil Mickelson, who does not swing like Rickie Fowler. Yet all of these players are successful on the golf course. What is their secret? Is it luck, natural skill, lots and lots of practice, or a combination of these, along with other reasons?

Although each professional would probably give you a different answer for what his secret is, one thing is constant. Each has learned to be efficient with the golf swing that works best for him and what his body can do physically in order to get the most out of each shot on the golf course.

As you watch The Masters this weekend and other golf tournaments throughout the year, realize that you do not need to swing a golf club just like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Jordan Spieth. You can become the most efficient golfer you can be by knowing your body’s limitations and how you can get your body to be as efficient as possible when hitting the golf ball.

A Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Certified Medical Professional can help with this. According to years of study and research performed by the Titleist Performance Institute, there are 12 common swing characteristics that decrease efficiency relative to the golf swing. The most common is known as a “Loss of Posture,” which includes “Early Extension.” Loss of posture is any significant alteration from the body’s original set-up angles during the golf swing.

Early extension occurs when the hip and spine of a golfer go into extension or straighten up too early in the golf swing. This can be seen when the pelvis moves closer to the ball on the downswing.

According to a survey conducted by the TPI, 64.3 percent of non-PGA players polled were found to have an issue with early extension. Conversely, and notably, 99 percent of professional golfers on the PGA tour were found to NOT have this common swing characteristic.

Lack of internal rotation of the lead hip, an inability to separate control of the upper body from the lower body, and a lack of stability in the lower body can all create issues for early extension.

Early extension can result in shots going right or left off the tee. A TPI certified examiner can determine whether potential problems could arise from early extension by evaluating a patient performing a full deep overhead squat, among other screening exercises.

A deep overhead squat is when a patient raises his hands up over his head (no weights are needed) and separates them a little wider than shoulder width, then goes down into a squatting position as deeply as possible while keeping the upper back straight (not leaning forward) and the heels on the ground.

In this part of a physical assessment screen, common issues seen are the inability to keep the back straight, the inability to keep one’s arms up over one’s head and shoulders, or the inability to keep one’s heels from coming up off the ground. The examiner can tell a different story from the movement a patient makes so attempting this test on one’s own won’t elucidate any shortcomings.

So the first step to improving your swing — and preventing overextension injuries and knowing your body’s limitations as it relates to your golf swing — is to get a physical assessment screening performed by a certified golf medical professional. This will help you understand why you aren’t getting the most out of your golf swing and which part of your body may be holding you back.

A physical assessment screening can also identify other potential problems, and the TPI certified medical professional can assist you in correcting them by offering treatment and a home exercise program to address the physical limitations.

If you would like to learn more about what may be holding you back from your full golf swing potential, or if you have any aches or pains while golfing, ask to see Dr. Jared Hatch, a TPI Certified Medical Professional, at Capitol Rehab of Arlington for an assessment screening. You can reach Capitol Rehab of Arlington at 703 527-5492 or email directly at

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