PGA Championship

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This major champ used ballet to get better at golf. Here's how dance can benefit your game, too

Updated on May 14, 2024

The LPGA Tour is going to miss So Yeon Ryu. The two-time major winner announced that the 2024 Chevron Championship would be her last LPGA tournament, ending her 13-year career. We already miss seeing Ryu’s stellar play—she was a six time LPGA winner—but her personality also added a lot to the tour. The 33-year-old South Korean has a lot of interests outside of golf, while always looking for ways to improve her game—sometimes in unorthodox and unexpected ways.

In a 2019 interview with Golf Digest, Ryu talked about how she picked up ballet while she was on tour, and how it made her golf game better:

“I started ballet in 2016, offseason,” Ryu said. “I started because everything we do is based on trying to perform better. Because of that, a lot of our training is really athletic. I wanted to try something a little more girly, and I thought ballet could be fun. Ballet actually does connect to golf. In golf, it’s really important to use the ground force when you swing. It’s the same in ballet. If you want to jump well, you have to know how to use ground force.”

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We talked to Ann Kristin Allen, a Golf Digest Certified Fitness Trainer, who said what Ryu experienced makes sense.

“Ballerinas use the ground for stability and power,” Allen said. Learning to use the ground in ballet can help you use the ground more effectively on the golf course.

The benefits go beyond ground force, Allen said. Watch ballerinas, and you’ll see “how they manage their spine alignment to make it look effortless and easy,” Allen says. Maintaining proper spine angle is key for golfers, too. Ballet can teach you the body awareness required to maintaining spine angle, and help build the strength necessary to do it, too.

These benefits don't only apply to ballet. So if you’re not ready to commit to ballet, you can find similar gains in other types of dance.

“Probably for most golfers, dance is a good place to start,” Allen said. “The ease on the dance floor is the same as using the ground for stability and power. It trains you to move with perfect spinal alignment for each move. In Latin dance, you get the hips and more thoracic movement as well.”

The ability to use the ground, maintaining spine angle, building strength and training hip and thoracic spine movement: all of these benefits from dance relate directly to the golf swing.

“I have read that dancers pick up golf easier than most due to all of this,” Allen said.

While it might have sounded odd for a tour player to pick up ballet in the off season, Ryu was certainly on to something.