June 3, 2015

Golf and Fitness: The Modern Athlete

Fitness is a growing trend in the society that we live in today. This is evident by the amount of different athletes that many of us idolize growing up. From the Wayne Gretzky to Michael Jordan, athletes play an important part in the entertainment side of our society. As our society continues to evolve, so do our athletes.

When it comes to golf, there are still a lot of people that don’t consider golfers to be “athletes.” This is because in order to play golf you don’t need to meet any physical or cardiovascular requirements beforehand. However, in my opinion, golfers are as much of athletes as any other sport. The sport may not be as physically demanding as other sports, however, there is an expert combination of power, balance, flexibility, and control that is necessary to execute a well struck golf shot. On top of that, there is a mental portion of the game that goes into every shot and every hole that you play. This mental aspect is very important to all sports, and is equally important when it comes to golf. There might not be as much preparation before a round of golf; however, there is a ton of mental stability and emotional control needed throughout the round.Golf Fitness

In the past, there wasn’t a lot of focus on fitness in the golf world. While many pros were fantastic golfers, few had an ideal body type or athletic base that could transfer over to different sports. This is because many of the PGA Tour professionals weren’t as educated about fitness and nutrition as they are today. This growth in knowledge about the human body over the past couple of decades has really led to more “true athletes” on tour. Today, the PGA Tour is home to guys that are great athletes and even better golfers. This growth of the athletic side of the game (along with better club technology) has really led to an increase in distance on tour that can really change how golf courses are played. Many of the par 4’s now may be an 8 iron into the green compared to a 5 or 6 iron a decade ago. A great example of an athlete on tour is a guy like Dustin Johnson. With an athletic frame of 6’ 4” and the ability to dunk a basketball, Dustin is a great blueprint for future tour players.

So, what can the average person do to become a better athlete to improve their golf game? There are a number of different steps that you can take to improve yourself. The important thing is that you start doing something! I’m going to go over a few different techniques and areas of focus that work for people of all ages and skill sets. I’m going to go over a number of different compound movements that can be done so everyone reading this can try it for themselves!

There are a few different stretches and exercises that I have used a lot recently and have really helped my flexibility and ability to attack the golf ball. These exercises are a great starting point for any golfer to improve on their athletic base. When it comes to stretching, my primary focus is on my legs and back. This may differ depending on the person, but, this seems to work the best for me. A stretch that I think all golfers should learn to do and perform well is the Couch Stretch. This stretch does a great job of activating your hip flexors, which are critical to the golf swing. This article from Crossfit South Bay does a great job of explaining the stretch and the muscle activation that it causes in your quadriceps and hip flexors. It also does a great job of showing pictures to ensure that the form on this stretch is correct.

With an exercise program I would suggest focusing around bodyweight and low impact movements. The good thing about these programs is that you can really modify it towards your specific needs. Some people may want to do a full-body program every day if that works best for them. However, you can also focus on a few body parts in a day and rotate your focus the next day. This could work so you could have three different days of different exercises. For example, “Day A” could focus on chest and arms, “Day B” could focus on back, and “Day C” could focus on legs. These exercises, in combination with stretching and some cardio work every day, will give you a complete workout that you can build off of and improve on with consist work. These exercises can also be modified in a number of different ways so you can make them harder or easier depending on the abilities that you have.

There are hundreds of different movements that you can do to workout. However, I think that there are two exercises that you should focus on. The first of these exercises would be rows. This exercise is great because it focuses on your upper back and shoulders, and there are a number of different ways that it can be completed. You can do these with a cable machine, barbell, or even with a rowing machine for cardio work as well. The next movement that should be a main focus for golfers would be the squat. This is another exercise that it is great because you can make it work with any skill set that you have. You can also modify this movement in a number of different ways, just like you can with rows. You can do squats with just your body weight, with a barbell, or even with kettlebells! For beginners, I would suggest starting with a goblet squat in order to get the form down and to slowly build your strength. Even if you don’t have a kettlebell for this movement, a dumbbell works out great. Check out this link for more information!

This brief run down is a great starting point for any golfer to really improve themselves and even improve their golf game! Slowly getting into better shape can really help your flexibility and power that you have in order to go after a golf ball. That is why the athletic side of golf has really taken off in the past decade. Every golfer is starting to understand the importance of having a good athletic base and how it can contribute to your game. In summary, just get out there and try to get in better shape than you already are in, your golf game will thank you!

Jake Bandi
2nd Assistant Golf Professional
Hawk’s View Golf Club