Song-Hee Kim may be the most consistent player on the LPGA Tour to have not yet won a tournament. She currently has had fifteen top-10's out of twenty-two starts in 2010. She always seems to be the bridesmaid, not yet the bride...I say just wait.
Song-Hee began winning in South Korea at the age of sixteen. By eighteen she turned professional winning five tournaments on the Futures Tour finishing number one on the money list earning her a spot onto the LPGA. After a lackluster rookie year and a winless second season, Song-Hee began looking for missing links within her game.
I can remember the chilly December evening (well, chilly for us who live in Florida!), when this shy young girl came into the fitness center to start a conditioning regimen. I thought to myself, "oh my, how am I going to get this girl to open up and create a little fire in her belly?" Anyone that is associated with professional golf realizes that the "off season" is nothing of the sort. Tour players work hard to hone their games for the upcoming season. It is quite often very schedule oriented and if not balanced properly, can leave the golfer feeling exhausted.
About a month into training I saw that this was becoming the case for Song-Hee. She entered the gym dragging and unenthusiastic about expelling more energy into training that evening. I believe conditioning should not only be functional for the golfer but have an element of fun as well. So rather than start with our core exercises I grabbed a medicine ball and instructed her to follow me outside. I told her to grab the ball and throw it as hard as she could onto the brick pavers. After the first slam I saw a sparkle light up in her eyes. Now THIS was the girl I had been searching for! The rest of the session was spent smashing medicine balls in all sorts of manners. Now two years later we have become close friends and a very determined competitor hides behind this bashful demeanor.
Song-Hee is loaded with natural athleticism, she grew up a soccer player which now aids her in having a strong lower body within her swing. The one area that we have been able to make great gains but will always continue to focus on is her upper body strength and her "upper crossed syndrome" or the rounding of her upper T-Spine and shoulders. Whether her imbalance originates from physical limitations or social ones (tall and shy) it inhibits her ability to correctly retract and stabilize her shoulder blades as well as limits full rotation. So our goal has been to not only give her model like posture but to permanently change a problem that has plagued her golf swing.
From my experience in working with golfers at every level, a common area of imbalance within the body lies within the internal rotation of the shoulder and proper scapular stability. Everyone can benefit from increasing strength and stability within their rotator cuff and their shoulder blades. So I recommend adding these exercises to your fitness routine.
Lying Overhead Press
Lay face down on an incline bench, have arms at head level, push weights outwards and upwards maintaining the angle of your body.
Use light weight (3-8lbs) to start performing 10 perfect reps then increase weight by 2lb increments.
Lying Diagonal Raise
Face thumbs upwards, raise arms from floor level to head high, pause then lower the weight without swinging
Use light weight performing 15 perfect reps before increasing lbs.
Lying Lateral Shoulder Raise (Thumbs Facing)
Face thumbs towards each other at floor level, raise arms inline with your head until shoulder high
Use light weight performing 20 perfect reps before adding weight.
These next two exercises Song-Hee does to increase her rotational movement within her swing.
Kneeling Rope Chop
Kneel down with your leg closest to rope up at 90 degrees, with a full shoulder turn pull rope across your body finishing outside your opposite hip. Keep core tight and engaged, hips quiet throughout the motion.
Start with moderate weight and increase as long as the hips don't begin to lean or sway in exercise.
Low Cable Twisting Row
Get into a half squat position, back flat and weight on the middle of your feet, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. With one arm pull elbow back behind body as you push your opposite one forward. Feel the twist in your upper back.
Perform 15-20 reps with moderate to heavy weight while maintaining your form throughout the motion.
Andrea Doddato is a golf fitness professional that works with many LPGA players. She writes for several golf publications and has been seen on ESPN and The Golf Channel. She can be contacted through www.shapeandsport.com.