When Tiger Woods said he had to withdraw from Torrey Pines last month because “my glutes aren’t firing,” golf fans on social media reacted with a collective chuckle.
However, Tiger’s reasoning made more sense than many people realized.
The butt muscles, comprised of the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, are the most important muscles for generating speed and power in the golf swing. They are the largest muscle group in the body as well as one of the most powerful, and they play a major role in the golf swing. For a golfer, a strong backside is essential for preventing injuries and maximizing acceleration and power in the downswing.
According to our physical screening at the Titleist Performance Institute, a large majority of golfers -- including elite-level golfers -- have poorly functioning glutes. This is due in part to the excessive amount of time we all spend sitting. Extended periods of time spent in a seated position create weakened, inactive glutes, tight hamstrings and hip flexors.
If your glutes are not active during your swing it can cause your hamstrings and lower back to become overused and more prone to injury. It is helpful to do a few glute activation exercises to wake up the glutes prior to swinging a golf club. Something as simple as a walking lunge is not only great for strengthening the glute, but it also engages other key muscles in your legs and helps stabilize your core.
Once your glutes are active, they can actually help stabilize your lower body in the golf swing and assist the entire swing motion to help you create your maximum speed.
To find good glute-firing exercises, visit MyTPI.com and search “glutes” for a variety of glute-firing exercises to help your swing and take the stress off your lower back.
And the next time you hear Tiger talk about golf fitness, pay attention. The guy knows what he’s talking about.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Dave Phillips is co-founder of the Titleist Performance Institure in Oceanside, Calif.