The benefits of golf fitness are starting to become a hot topic. All the top players are doing it and highlighting its importance, whilst some people think it’s ruining careers. Much of the criticism around physical training for golf tends to either warn about the dangers of becoming too bulky, or that the player will injure themselves lifting “heavy weights”. Like most things, the devil is in the detail. Of course any type of physical training has some inherent risk. If the training is appropriately managed, organised, and executed there is only positives however.
Undeserved Criticism Of Physical Training For Golf
An unfortunate circumstance in regards to physical training for golf is that much of the criticism is coming from people who have a huge platform, but little education on the subject. This leads to widespread confusion and misunderstanding.
Hitting the ball further is the main reason people workout out for golf, especially better players. The statistics in regards to club head speed, it’s relationship with distance, and how that correlates with handicap as an amateur/ money earned as a pro is well established.
Many forget about other benefits that are definitely worth consideration.
4 Benefits of Golf Fitness
1) Increased Ability To Tolerate Large Volumes Of Practice, Play, & Daily Commitments
This is especially relevant if you are a more serious player, but holds true for everyone who practices and plays a lot. Trying to withstand the demands of practice, competitive play, work/school, and possibly travel is asking a lot from your body. Taking care of your training and nutrition will go a large way towards being able to withstand these demands over a long period of time. We all know the person who finishes 18 holes and is a wreck. The idea of any additional practice, possibly some physical training, study, house work, etc is a wild dream. In reality this is what most good players are doing on a daily basis, for an entire season, years or decades in a row. If you listen to collegiate or even more so tour players talk about their daily practice and training regimens you can see a lot of time and effort goes into the level they play at. It’s not simply a couple of hours practice and showing up to tournaments. It’s essentially a full time commitment.
Any serious golfer would be foolish to think that taking care of their physical condition and nutrition isn’t worthwhile. You will have more energy during your practice & play, and recover faster in between sessions.
2) Reduced Chance of Injury
Nobody worries about injury prevention until they get injured. The quickest way to halt your progress in a sport is to miss practice and competition time due to injury. A common complaint I hear from some of the players I work with is that they have started to practice more, and because of this they are starting to get sore backs, shoulders, elbows etc. Having a training plan in place that improves the strength and endurance of the structures being stressed during your play and practice is essential for reducing the likelihood of an overuse injury. Golf is a sport in which the movements being carried out are extremely repetitive. As a result very similar stress is being placed on the same tissues and structures, in large volumes (especially in long arduous range sessions).
In addition to physical training, increased variability of movement is desirable for reducing the potential of injury as it allow tissues and structures to distribute stress over a larger surface area. A way this can be applied to golf practice is by taking mini breaks during sessions to do some exercises, or by more regularly switching the types of shots you are practicing. Swapping between full swings, pitch shots, & putts for example will provide variety that may be easier on the body than 50 x 6 irons in a row.
3) Make Swing Improvements More Attainable
Even if you have the best swing coach in the world they can only work with the physical qualities you possess at that time. The golf coach Adam Young touches on this in his very popular book “The Practice Manual“, which I highly recommend. Good coaches whether golf or fitness, realise that not everyone can carry out movements exactly as you would like them too, and modifications may be necessary. Everybody loves talking about certain moves in DJ’s or Rory’s swing, but often don’t realise these moves are impossible without exceptional mobility, stability, strength, & power. If you can start to work on your body with a strategically designed program specifically for golfers your ability to make more efficient powerful swings will drastically improve.
After a few weeks of going through training programs on the Fit For Golf App players regularly comment on how they are reaping the benefits of golf fitness. They are hitting the ball longer and more solidly because they feel like they have improved their set up, increased their stability, and developed the mobility and strength necessary to make better swings. This is especially true for good players who have never trained before as they already have the skill and just needed some horse power. Higher handicap players get a chance learn what good posture, stability, and a dynamic rotation feel like without worrying about hitting the ball which can be important for improving movement quality.
4) Better Lifestyle & Health
While the better players that seek my services are often solely interested in performance improvement, more recreational players are often looking for something that will help their golf, but also improve their general quality of life.
I think this statement from a client sums up this scenario…
“While I consider myself a golfer due to playing competitively in high school and college, I haven’t really played much in the last several years due to being busy with my job and three kids, and more recently not at all while recovering from a concussion/whiplash in a minor car accident. So while I like the romantic notion of getting “fit for golf” and being back out there, it’s really more realistic that I’m trying to get “fit for life”.
At the moment my work is split between players whose main focus is golf performance, and others who like golf but want to stay as fit as possible, and keep playing golf for as long as possible. I try hard to provide my customers and clients with information that will help improve their golf games and highlight the benefits of golf fitness, but it’s also extremely satisfying to feel the programs I provide are having a positive effect on their everyday lives and longevity.