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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

TPI Golf Screen and Golf Swing Characteristics

One hallmark of Titleist Performance Institute system is belief that the individual player’s body and their golf swing are tightly interwoven.  The TPI philosophy of the swing states, “We don’t believe there is one way to swing a golf club. We believe there are an infinite number of ways to swing a golf club.  But we do believe there is one efficient way for all golfers to swing a club and it is based on what they can physically do.”  (See also, Titleist Performance Institute Golf Screening and the Developmental Hierarchies of the SFMA and FMS)

A recent and fairly novel study explored the relationship between TPI Level I golf screen and common swing faults (Gulgin 2013)  Authors studied thirty six male and female golfers with an average handicap of 14.2 (+/- 10.4…fairly wide range of players).  Players hit four shots while being analyzed with the V1Pro swing analysis software to determine presence of swing faults. Players also completed the TPI Level I screen.  

The Level I screen as studied included 12 individual screens (though recently the TPI Level I screen has expanded to include screens for the neck, wrist, and ankle which were previously taught at higher levels)

  • Overhead deep squat
  • Trunk rotation
  • Pelvic rotation
  • Pelvic tilt
  • Single leg stance
  • 90-90 (shoulder)
  • Latissimus dorsi length
  • Single leg glute bridge
  • Lower quarter rotation
  • Upper quarter rotation
  • Toe touch
  • Reach roll and lift

Authors noted the following relationships between certain individual screens and swing faults (the more contemporary term for “faults” may be “characteristics” as TPI readily acknowledges that players have won major championships with virtually every “fault”). 

**Limited toe-touch was significantly associated with early hip extension

(My comment: Early extension is when the players hips move toward the ball early in the downswing rather than retaining flex during this stage.  A player who cannot adequately hip hinge is less likely to sustain hip flexion during the transition and early downswing.  Authors describe the toe touch as a “hamstring flexibility test,” but within the TPI screen the toe touch is used more as a hip hinge screen).

**Limited bridge on right side was significantly associated with early hip extension

(My comment: Limitation is found if the player cannot maintain level hips or if hamstring or low back cramping is noted.  If a player lacks stability to bear weight on the right side, they may have a tendency to prematurely unweight that hip and contribute to early extension).

**Limited bridge on right side was significantly associated with loss of posture

(My comment: Trail leg helps support the backswing turn.  Though different beliefs exist on how much weight transfer should actually occur, it is clear the trail leg does need stability.  Loss of posture is one common way this limitation could be expressed.  Bridge also looks at hip extension.  Since the backswing does involve hip extension, this could be another reason for the correlation.)

**Players with a limited overhead deep squat were 2-3x more likely to early extend in the downswing

(From the TPI level I manual...“If a golfer is unable to perform a full deep squat with their heels on the ground, it is almost impossible to maintain posture during the downswing.  We usually see these golfers thrust their lower bodies toward the golf ball and raise their torsos during the downswing.”)  

**Players who failed the single leg balance test on the left side were more likely to early extend in the downswing.  

(My comment: Lead leg requires stability in the downswing.  Energy may be displaced into an early extension rather than driving into the left leg and posting up for the finish.)  

What to make of this study

Overall these are interesting findings that confirm many anecdotal observations.  TPI retains a large database of internal findings of screens and swing faults, which is how the screen ultimately settled on its current form.  Those screens that TPI found to be reliable predictors of certain swing faults became the standard. 

Yet despite these correlations in this study, some might question why correlations didn’t exist between other screens and other swing flaws.   For now, this is only one study with a relatively small player sample, with relatively few within each strata of playing ability.  Despite the limitations, the results do suggest a connection between the body and the swing is present, particularly in those screens found to have significant correlations.  Hopefully more research will emerge to identify or exclude other possible relations.    

Reference

Gulgin, Heather R. PhD, ATC; Schulte, Brian C.; Crawley, Amy.  Correlation of TPI(TM) Level 1 Movement Screens and Golf Swing Faults.  Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research., POST ACCEPTANCE, 24 May 2013  doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31829b2ac4

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