The Flexibility Myth

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

More Information

Alison Thietje
Owner, Mind-2-Motion

Have you ever been told by a teaching Pro you need the flexibility to get into a certain  position? REALLY! How many times have you heard commentators on the PGA Tour talk about how much flexibility is needed for a Tiger, Rory or Tom Watson golf swing? Tour Pro’s motion is extremely efficient and thus easy to duplicate for a consistent swing.  Based on how the body is designed to move, their swing mechanics have a simple muscle firing pattern which requires significantly less flexibility than previously believed.

The motions created by these Tour Pro’s are made possible because of their origin and sequence in which they move. Not their degree of flexibility! Origin of movement is the muscle they contract in order to move a limb and torso. The sequence of movement is the order in which those muscles contracted to create their swing.

Try this to help you understand. Look at your arms and note the three joints of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. Now, keep your arms straight and raise them straight out in front of you till your hand is level with your chest. Note you can see the elbow, wrist and hand move, but reality is, you never moved those joints at all. You moved your shoulder, which was is the origin of movement also called the primary mover. The elbow, wrist and hand were passive.

Experiencing this for yourself should help you understand that you may see lots of moving parts in a golf swing, but in reality, the best golf swings in the world have less moving parts and require less flexibility than most amateur swings. In fact, they primarily move their torso as the primary mover and the arms and legs follow the rotational forces of movement.

Below is a short list of range of motion (ROM) medical standards for the human body and the ROM needed for a good golf swing. This is not a complete list, just an example to compare overall functioning ROM and being flexible enough for a good golf swing.

Universal/Medical ROM Golf Swing
Hamstring 90 degree 45 degree
Hip Flexion 120 degree 45 degree
Shoulder Flexion 180 degree 45-90 degree
Shoulder Horizontal Adduction 130 degree 60-70 degree
Shoulder Horizontal Abduction 30 degree 0-10 degree
External Rotation 50 degree 0-10 degree
Elbow Flexion 150 degree 45-90 degree
Torso Flexion 90 degree 45 degree
Torso Rotation 45 degree 30-45 degree

I caution all golfers to never assume their problem is poor flexibility. I have been training golfers for over 15 years and 95% of the time their problem is origin of movement or poor posture. Fix their set up, straighten the posture and low and behold the motions become so much easier! When your posture is hunched over or rounded and your sequence of movement is incorrect, you will feel caught up, or unable to move! This is completely normal. Your answer may be much simpler than you ever imagined.

For a free video on “how to test your golf ROM” go to

For over 25 years Alison Thietje has specialized in fitness and entrepreneurship. She has owned three successful golf fitness companies, one of which was the first personal training company to travel with the PGA Tour. She currently works as an independent contractor for The Traditions and The Reserves as a fitness and swing coach using the Mind2Motion Learning System. Alison launched Mind2Motion Golf website in March of 2012.

by Tom Velarde

I hope everyone takes Alison’s points to heart, I can give you a real life example of how this works. A few years ago I was approaching 60, well I had overtaken 60 actually, and thought that due to my lack of flexability I would have to give up tournament golf. My distance had gone from being more than adequate to so very short that the short game came under stress every hole. Doing some very simple things, all that has gone away. Now at 61, I know that I can hit the ball further and straighter than ever before. My short game now assures competitive scores and does not have to carry me the entire round. Take the ROM tests, give us your feedback and let us start to help you enjoy playing golf again. We will go through the basics of understanding how our bodies interact with great golf swings. Like most things, building a good educational foundation is necessary to getting better faster.

Tom Velarde is the Director of Golf at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe.

For more information or to reach Tom, email