What does it take to become world number one in golf? Jon Rahm reveals to RSNG.com that these days it’s as much about setting up his body as it is setting up shots.
The Spaniard is a multiple winner on the PGA Tour, and Victory at the Phoenix Open in the middle of February 2023 saw him go back to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings.
The 28-year-old’s foundation to his success is immense lower body and core strength…
RSNG As a golf swing, yours is certainly a unique one, but one which works incredibly well for you. Are your strong legs and glutes an important base for that?
JON RAHM, MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER “I’d like to think that the foundation of my game is based on my ability to be strong, balanced and stable when it comes to my swing, yeah.
“I like my stance to be powerful, as it provides a perfect and solid grounding to begin perfecting my swing. I developed good leg strength when I was young, and that meant very little movement or error for everything above there. Ultimately, your legs are the foundation to your whole game, and if you have solid legs, then you are more solid with everything else above the legs.
“Having a firm base through the legs is also crucial for injury prevention; there is less moving about, which means there’s less than can go out of line.
“It became really obvious to me that, as a young player, focusing on the lower body and the core – while others were still trying to build upper-body muscle or perfect certain types of clever shots – was going to be a smart route to trying to achieve my ambitions, and it has played out that way.”
**RSNG Does it help that you have developed a swing that few golfers have been able to emulate?
JON RAHM “In a way, yes, although every golfer will have parts of their game that are unique to them.
“We all watch each other’s game and I say that as a mark of respect; but once you get to this level it’s unlikely you’re going to start ripping up the way you do something just because another golfer is having success with it.
“I believe we are too long in the process, too long down the road, for that to happen.”
The high draw shot is just a consequence of my hands rotating fully and the clubhead moving high and to the left
RSNG Many comment on your wide stance and trademark high draw shot – have you had to work on these?
JON RAHM “They are both quite natural to me. I find the wider my stance, the more solid I am on my downswing.
“The high draw shot is just a consequence of my hands rotating fully and the clubhead moving high and to the left. For me it is the most natural way to swing a golf club and it’s always been that way.”
RSNG What exercises do you do to help build and maintain lower body strength
JON RAHM “My exercises are dynamic and there is a lot going on in them, rather than just me stretching and strengthening those muscles. My legs, core and glutes are a great place for my swing to rest on.
“I will do a lot of squats, lunges, deadlifts, box jumps… all of the things you would expect. It’s all about generating power and presence through the ground, and my strength training program will always come back to these key pillars.”
RSNG Are these limited just to training, or will you perform a lower body routine before heading out for round of golf as well?
JON RAHM “Not the floor ones as much, as these are really for serious gym workout.
“Of course, I would be looking to make sure all of those muscles are activated, and will be supplementing those with other moves that ensure flexibility and versatility before I start swinging the club.
“If you’re cold teeing off, you run the risk of misfiring, and doing that early in a round could mean you are setting yourself up for a bad round that can’t be recovered from.”
If I’m not sweating whilst doing my pre-round routine that means to me that I haven’t been putting enough in and my muscles won’t be activated enough
**RSNG With the amateur golfer in mind, is there ever a concern that if you’re sweating during your warm-ups, that you may be over-exerting yourself and not leaving too much left in reserve? **
JON RAHM “I suppose that all depends on how you feel when you’re doing the exercises. If you game is based on power, then you need to make sure your muscles are ready.
“Power without stamina is going to see you tired before your round is over and that could be the difference between getting your target score and missing it. So, maybe getting the core fitness right, maybe with a PT, could be the answer.
“If I’m not sweating whilst doing my pre-round routine that means to me that I haven’t been putting enough in and my muscles won’t be activated enough. I have my indicators as to where I need to be at and that is one of the key ones for me.
‘Any golfer needs to take time to listen to and respect what his or her body tells them.”
RSNG Would you ever change and try to use weights to build more upper body strength?
JON RAHM “Right now I’m getting all that I need from lower body focus. I can’t say that won’t necessarily change in the months and years to come, and I’m sure at some point, as I get older, I may need to adapt certain parts of my body to compensate for the things that perhaps I can’t do anymore.
“However, right now I am in a good place, and everything is working in the way that it should.”
WHAT NEXT? Want to know how Jon Rahm combines brain with brawn? Then read the exclusive RSNG.com interview with the two-times World Number One on how he stays mentally sharp…
Photos: Shutterstock/ REX