Even weaker golfers generate 50 mph or more of clubhead speed when they whack away at a golf ball. Talented golfers whip the club through the impact area at more than 100 mph. So it's hard to keep your balance when you swing a golf club, especially when you're shifting your weight from from back foot to front foot to generate such power. As leading instructor Lynn Marriot wrote in Golf.com, "Maintain your balance and you can deliver the clubhead to the ball with both speed and accuracy."
Checking Your Balance
Marriot offers three exercises to check your balance when you address the ball, at the top of your backswing and at the finish position. Your weight should be evenly balanced over the insteps of your feet when you address the ball. Test your address balance by jumping straight up. If you're correctly balanced, you'll land comfortably on both feet without falling forward or backward. At the top of your backswing, roughly 90 percent of your weight has shifted to your right side, if you swing right-handed, and your balance point should be in the middle of your right foot. To test, lift your left leg off the ground. If you can hold this position without wavering for a count of three, you're nicely balanced. At the finish of the swing, almost all your weight should be over your left leg. If you are wavering or stumbling at the finish, your balance is off and your shot is likely to be off target.
Golf is considered single-leg dominant -- your weight shifts from one leg to the other during the swing. The STACK website strongly recommends lunges for golfers to improve balance, because a lunge also shifts weight from one leg to the other, thereby roughly mimicking the golf swing. As STACK states, "Balance is extremely important for golfers, especially at the ankles and lower legs."
Balance Exercises for Younger Golfers
Even if you are a younger person with good balance, "Golf Digest" recommends two advanced exercises that might help take your game to the next level by further improving balance and core stability. To perform a pistol squat, extend your arms and stand on one leg. Then squat down as far as you can while maintaining control and balance. You can pick up a kettlebell when you rise back up for an even tougher exercise. A single-leg deadlift, which enhances strength, posture and balance, starts with you standing with arms extended to the sides. Hinge down from the hips. Extend your left leg back, which puts your body in a "T" position with your shoulders and extended leg parallel to the ground. Lift a kettlebell with your right hand and then return to the starting position. Alternate by switching to the right leg and picking up the kettlebell with your left hand.
At PGATour.com, golf instructor Sean Cochran recommends using unstable surfaces for advanced balance training. He uses various devices to create unstable surfaces, such as half-foam rollers, physio ball, balance boards and bosu balls. For example, if you put a half-foam roller under the leg you are balancing on, it forces your muscles and nerves to work much harder to maintain balance. The better your balance becomes, "the greater ease you will have executing most any shot on the golf course," Cochran says.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.