The muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff might be small, but they are extremely durable. And that's a good thing, because they take a beating when a golf club is swung at a high rate of speed or when it cuts through deep rough or thick sand. The impact of club and ball, or club and ground, is felt first by the hands and then the arms, but a good bit of the force is absorbed by the shoulders. The shoulders absorb even greater forces when you attempt to stop the club. Just look at how much the shoulders are involved in this driver swing sequence of PGA Tour pro Troy Merritt. When the club is swung aggressively and repeatedly, microtears frequently occur in the four muscle-tendons that make up the rotator cuff. Not trying to scare you here, but if you're not trying to improve your shoulder strength and range of motion, you could end up missing serious golf time while you recover from pain, tears, surgery, etc.
So what can you do about it? There are a number of simple exercises you can do to get the soft tissue around the shoulder joints prepared for golf. And if you do them religiously, you'll find you can hit the tough shots like from deep rough, fairway bunkers or awkward lies. Sometimes the only energy you can apply to a golf swing comes from the shoulders and arms. So it only makes sense to be prepared for those shots when you have limited mobility with the rest of your body.
The sport-training company SKLZ recently introduced its new "Golf Strong" fitness program, which includes a number of training aids that can help with shoulder mobility. The program goes well beyond the shoulders, but the slide pads sold as part of the package—known as Slidez—are especially helpful in improving rotator-cuff health. In fact, SKLZ trainer Michael Cummings demonstrates how you can use them for your shoulders in the video below.