Do You Need Golf Flexibility? Lets test…

golf flexibility
How can you tell if you need more golf flexibility? How can you tell which golf stretches you need the most? Today we are going to cover some basic golf flexibility tests to determine if you are too stiff to make a good golf swing.

Golf flexibility is one of the top 2-3 issues facing senior golfers and golfers over 50. If you are in this group, poor golf flexibility results in a shortened swing and loss of power, a high risk of injuries, and the inability for you to get into the correct positions for a fundamental golf swing. The more inflexible you allow your body to become, the more labored and funky your golf swing becomes.

Although you want to maintain good flexibility throughout your body, the golf swing places greater importance on flexibility in only a few joints.

These joints include:

  • The torso/spine
  • The hips
  • The shoulder
  • The neck

The Torso/Spine The ability to rotate your torso is a huge indicator of how much power you will be able to achieve in the golf swing. It is far more important than how big your muscles are.

Perform these tests to determine if you need to improve spine/torso flexibility to play good golf.

1. Sitting Rotation Stretch
Golf flexibility test for shoulder turn

Setup: Begin by sitting in a chair. You can either hold the golf club across the back of your shoulders as shown, or across the front of the shoulders.

Test: To complete the test successfully, you need to be able to rotate fully in both directions so that the shaft of the golf club is lined up straight forwards with your legs.

Implications: If you are able to get close to this, you are doing ok. However, if you are like the golfer in this picture and cannot rotate fully, your golf game is limited by your lack of spinal/torso rotation.

2. Torso and Neck Rotation Test
golf flexibility test

Setup: Perform this test on the floor or on a bed so that you can sit down with your legs straight in front of you.

Test: Cross one leg over the other with a bent knee as shown. From here, rotate around the leg that is bent as far as you are able. Rotate with your arms as well (as shown).

To pass this test, you need to be able to rotate your body and head so that you can look directly behind you.

Implications: Same as #1

3. Lying Rotation Stretch: Open Book Test
Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 1.18.34 PM

Setup: Begin by lying in the fetal position: on your right side with your knees bent up.

Test: Can you rotate in the opposite direction and lay left arm flat on the ground? Repeat test on the opposite side.

Did you pass?

The Hips

Hip flexibility is key for swing stability, swing mechanics and power. Try this test to see if your hips are limiting your golf swing.

1. Hip Internal Rotation Test

Internal hip rotation is a key test to determine if you are able to take both a full backswing and a full follow through swing.
Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 1.45.28 PM

Setup: Begin by lying on your stomach.  Bend your  knees up so that they are perpendicular to the floor.

Test: Allow your legs to hang rotate outwards to the side and allow them to hang their without effort.  For golf, you need to have between 45 and 55 degrees of hip rotation as measured in the picture.

Implications: Any limitation in this motion, usually results in some pretty ugly swing compensations that will cost you distance, accuracy, and consistent golf ball contact.

2. Thomas Test

The Thomas Test is a commonly used test to measure two different hip flexibility variables.
Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 1.27.13 PM

Setup: To begin this test, sit up on the foot of your bed making sure that you have room directly behind you to sit down.  Bend up your right knee and hold it with both hands as shown.

Test: From here, lie backwards down as shown making sure to maintain your hold on your right knee.  If you are able to lie your left thigh down flat on the bed you pass test #1.  If you are able to relax your left knee so that it is hanging straight down as shown, you pass #2.  These are the main components of the test.

Implications: Loss of hip flexibility will result in left hip restrictions on the backswing and right hip restrictions on the follow through swing.

Advanced Bonus Point

Have a friend or spouse standing at the foot of the bed, check to see if your leg is in straight alignment.  If you VERY poor hip rotational flexibility, you left leg may have rotated to the outside when you performed the test.

The Shoulders

1. Wall Angel Test
Raise your arms as high as you can keeping your full arms and back touching the wall.  Perform 12 slow repetitions.  You may not be able to perform perfectly but you will bet better with practice!

Setup: Stand with your back and bottom flat against the wall.

Test: With your elbows bent 90 degrees, can you touch the wall with both elbows, both wrists, and your back at the same time.

Implications: If your are unable to successfully complete this test, you are prone to a flying right elbow in the backswing and a chicken wing elbow on the follow through.  The consequences include hitting pulls, slicing the ball, poor contact consistency, and loss of power.


The Neck
Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 1.46.34 PM


Setup: Light flat on your back on a fairly firm surfaces.

Test: can you turn your head so that your whole ear is touching the floor?  Your nose pointing directly over your shoulder?

Implications:  Lack of neck flexibility results in too much head movement during your swing.  The more head movement you, the less consistent you will be able to golf.

From these tests, you can both determine your need for golf flexibility training and exactly where you need it the most!


Thanks for Reading!!!


Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist

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