Golf: Where Does Power Come From?

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Many people think that golf is a laid-back sport that does not give the golfer much of a workout, but anyone that has spent a day out on the golf course knows differently. Which muscles are involved in generating the power in your golf swing, and how can you improve the power in your swing?

The power in a golf shot comes from a combination of the legs, hips, shoulders, arms, and upper back. These muscle groups control specific aspects of your swing and should be given the proper attention in training programs away from the golf course to improve swing power.

While golf can be a relaxed game, it can also be a physically taxing game when you put all your effort into your performance on the golf course. Understanding where the power in your swing comes from will help you concentrate on your fitness in these areas to get more power and distance out of your golf shots.

Where Does The Power Come From In Your Golf Swing?

If you are a new golfer asking the question of where the power comes from in your swing, you may get answers such as arms and shoulders, hips, correct posture, legs, and timing.

The reality is that power for your swing comes from all these aspects, which need to operate together as a finely tuned machine to get the right amount of power.

Not many of us can say our body is a finely tuned machine, so we could all benefit from some work on certain aspects of our technique or body conditioning to improve the power of our golf swing.

Power in your golf swing is generated from your legs, hips and core muscles, arms, shoulders, neck, and back.

What Role Do Your Legs Play In Your Golf Swing?

Your legs give you a firm foundation for your golf swing. While not much of the power comes from your legs, they play a crucial role in leading the swing and providing a stable platform for the other components of your golf swing.

The role of the legs is to initiate the swing and provide the correct weight and balance shift throughout the swing to generate the maximum possible power.

Most golfers do not have too much difficulty with leg fitness and strength to the point that it affects the power of their swing. Generally, leg fitness will only affect your golf swing if you have an injury or joint problems, such as knee issues.

Squats are an exercise that will help strengthen your legs and improve the power of your golf swing. This exercise works your calf, thigh, and hip flexor muscles, which will help set a stable foundation for the rest of your swing.

What Role Do Your Hips And Core Play In Golf Swing Power?

Much of the power generated in your golf swing comes from your hips and your core muscles. Rotation of the hips at the start of your swing, through the swing, and the finish is crucial for creating the necessary power.

The hips and core are the aspect of the body and swing that most golfers neglect to work on, which is why it is the most common contributor to lack of power.

The hips are “loaded” during the backswing by rotating the hips along the axis of the spine away from the target. This action opens up all the other muscles, shoulders, arms, and back in preparation for the downward momentum of the swing.

As you begin your downward swing, the core muscles engage first to generate the initial power distributed to your arms and shoulders as you contact the ball.

Strong hips and core muscles give a golfer the advantage of greater initial power that can be transferred to the shoulders, arms, and, finally, the golf club.

Improving the fitness and strength of your core muscles will significantly increase the power you can deliver to the golf club during your downswing.

Several exercises will help to increase your core strength and improve the power of your golf swing.

  1. The slow reverse situp. To perform this exercise, sit on the floor in the position you would be in after a normal situp. Slowly lower your torso to the ground until your back touches the floor. Bring your torso up to the normal situp position again and repeat the slow descent to the floor.
  2. Simultaneous arm and leg raise. Lie down on your stomach on the floor or on an exercise mat. Stretch your arms forward in front of you and your legs straight. Elevate your legs and arms off the floor at the same time so that only your stomach and hips contact the floor. Hold them in the raised position for a few seconds, and then lower them back to the floor. Repeat this 10 times to complete a set, and complete 3 sets as part of your exercise program.
  3. Hip crossovers. Lie on the floor with your knees pointed at the ceiling and your calves parallel to the floor. Hold your arms stretched out on the floor at 90° to your body for balance. Slowly lower your legs together to one side of your body until they touch the floor, then lift them and lower them to the opposite side of your body. This is one repetition of the exercise. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions to give your hip flexors a good workout.

The Role Of Arms And Shoulders In Golf Swing Power

Your arms can be thought of as the pendulum arms that connect the golf club to the pivot point of your shoulders. The golf swing is like an uncoiling spring, with the swing’s momentum passed from the legs to the hips, shoulders, and arms.

Golfers lacking in power or engagement in their shoulders tend to try to introduce power from their arms, which is not ideal, and causes power leakage from the swing process. Not many golfers have issues with their shoulders unless they have an injury that limits the rotating ability of the shoulder.

Working on strengthening shoulder muscles will help to improve the snap at the end of the downswing, which translates all the energy from your swing to the head of the golf club.

Shoulder stretching exercises are important to increase flexibility and improve the range of motion in the shoulders to allow for proper rotation during the swing.

The Role Of Back Muscles In Your Golf Swing

A golfer’s back muscles are also important in the golf swing, but it is generally the upper back muscles that control your shoulder blades that will add power to your swing.

The exercises used to improve your shoulder rotation and strength are generally sufficient to work out the appropriate upper back muscles.

However, adding an exercise that works your lats or latissimus dorsi muscles will help improve the snap in your swing for efficient energy transfer.

How Does Timing Affect The Power In Your Golf Swing?

Besides the power generated by your body during your golf swing, the timing of your swing also contributes to power generation.

The muscles used in your golf swing must kick into action in the right sequence to prevent power leakage during your swing and losing power in the process.

The backswing starts with the legs and continues with the hips, arms, and shoulders to the peak of your backswing. The downswing follows the same sequence of leading with the legs, followed by the hips, producing the snap in the shoulders and arms to transfer the energy and momentum to the head of the golf club.

If the timing of your actions is out and muscles or actions are firing in the wrong sequence, you will lose power in your shot, which is known as power leakage.

If you suspect that your timing is an issue in your lack of power in your swing, the best option to resolve the problem is to consult a golf coach who can analyze your swing and give you some pointers as to where the problem lies.

Another alternative is to record your swing using your mobile phone on a tripod or clip. Record your swing from different angles to try to see where your swing timing is incorrect and try to make adjustments where necessary.


A golf swing is a complex motion requiring full body engagement to deliver maximum power to the shot. The hips are the most neglected part of the motion that many golfers fail to work on, but every part of the swing must work properly and in the correct sequence to improve power generation.

Working on strength and flexibility in each muscle group used in your golf swing will increase the power you can deliver to the ball and increase your distance.


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