Fitness Friday: Pick up 27 yards with a screwdriver
Mike LaBauve (@TheLaBauves), an old friend and great golf coach who works in Scottsdale, recently conducted a golf-and-fitness experiment with some of his students to see if he could get them to swing faster. His premise was that golfers could pick up some serious swing speed if they trained their non-dominant arms to work as well as their dominant arms. His theory was that if the right arm was capable of swinging the club 100 mph, but the left arm couldn't keep up, then that golfer couldn't swing the club 100 mph. The left arm was slowing things up and those golfers were leaving a lot of distance on the table.
Turns out Mike was right. His test concluded with amateur golfers picking up an average of 9 miles per hour in swing speed simply by training the left arm to try and match the capabilities of the right. Since they were averaging roughly three yards for every mile an hour of swing speed, that translates to 27 yards more distance. One of his students actually picked up 20 mph of clubhead speed and 60 yards of distance.
So how did Mike train them? He started with a simple exercise. They rotated their left arm as if they were using a screwdriver to remove a screw (see below). Remember "lefty-loosey?" The golfers started with slow rotations, moved on to faster ones, and then actually graduated to removing screws as fast as they could.
He then had them mimic their downswing with one arm using this same screwdriver forearm rotation. Instead of a heavy club, he had them use a light, handled object such as a spatula. The idea was to "smack" the clubhead into a soft object like an impact bag or a big pillow with a strong rotation of the left arm.
The next progression was to get these golfers to strengthen the left forearm and hand to the point where they could hold any club -- even a heavy lob wedge -- parallel to the ground for several seconds with the left hand only. Finally, the training was complete when they could make a one-armed practice swing powerfully, and whip that club through the hitting area, eventually hitting shots this way. When Davis Love III was growing up, his dad had him hitting 150-yard 7-irons with just his left arm.
The training took place over several weeks, but if you're interested in trying the same, you can accelerate the process with some work in the gym. Click on the video below to see me demonstrate a program that will help you pick up some desired yards.