I've been a golfer for over 30 years, and a student of Pai Lum Kung Fu for the past eight years, achieving the rank of 1st Degree Black-belt. Although these are obviously radically different activities, to excel in either one, you must develop similar characteristics. Both golf and Kung Fu are total body activities that also engage the mind.
First we will focus on flexibility. The more flexible you are, the more potential your golf swing will have, as you will be able to generate a longer golf swing with a wider arc, one of the major keys to increased power. Obviously, flexibility is very important to the martial artist. Again, the greater the flexibility in your technique, the greater the range of motion you may have, and thus, the greater potential for power. Also, greater flexibility helps prevent injury.
Next is strength. In both golf and the martial arts, you do NOT need to be super strong to have significant power. Huge muscles typically are not important to either activity. However, a decent amount of strength is clearly important. Traditional martial artists tend to work out the body in more traditional ways, without the use of heavy weights. This results in a lean and hard body, rather than a big and bulky body. A less bulky body allows the martial artist to maintain greater flexibility. This is also important to the golfer. We don't often see 250 pound linebackers who have a good golf game, but it is not uncommon to see a quarterback play golf well, not to mention a hockey player.
It is also important for the golfer and martial artist to be strong mentally. When in a fight, the martial artist must maintain his cool and composure at all times. By doing so, he will make few mistakes that his opponent may capitalize upon.
I am reminded of the early days of the UFC when Royce Gracie dominated that sport. He was often matched against opponents much larger than he (he usually weighed in at about 170 pounds). Typically, he would wait until his opponent would charge in and try to kick him to the head or body. This type of technique often results in less balance for a martial artist and Gracie would capitalize on this by moving in quickly to take his opponent down, then work into a position where he could choke out his opponent, or put him in a joint lock, forcing a tap out or a broken limb.
There is no other sport that requires you to be more mentally tough than in golf. That is why Tiger Woods is the best. He is simply much stronger mentally than any of his competitors, and that is why he often wins even when he is off his game.
In Kung Fu, we generate power by maintaining proper balance and being rooted to the ground. In the movies, you will see fighters leaving the ground and performing those fancy, jumping, spinning kicks. But, once you leave the ground, you lose power. If you watch any of the old Bruce Lee movies, you did not often see him leaving the ground when he finished off a kick or a punch. Occasionally, but not often.
In golf, the best players will keep their balance. This is the most important factor to having a powerful golf swing and consistent ball striking ability. That is why even when they swing hard, they maintain good balance.
Finally, both activities require you to remain relaxed to perform at the best of your ability. If there is any excess tension, you lose power, flexibility and touch. That is why breathing and relaxation techniques play a crucial role in the mastery of both.
So, if you have the opportunity, go learn a little Kung Fu! I guarantee it will help your golf game!
Scott Cole http://www.powergolftraining.net
Scott Allan Cole is a golf instructor, 1st Degree Blackbelt in the art of Pai Lum Kung Fu, and author of the ebook “How to Increase Your Golf Power. " He is also owner of the website http://www.powergolftraining.net