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Why Physical Conditioning Matters for Golfers

Feb 19, 2014

You’re willing to throw out big bucks for the latest clubs, clothing and lessons with a golf pro. But what about a gym membership?

In the last 20 years or so, perception of golf has transitioned from a “leisure sport” to a game for well-conditioned athletes. Perhaps we have Tiger Woods to thank for this advance. His standard-setting physical regimen off the golf course includes training for cardiovascular fitness, strength and core/flexibility.

Woods’ efforts are backed by solid research. Studies show that improving physical strength, endurance and range of motion could be the key to moving past a plateau and taking your golf game to the next level. Almost all the current pros maintain some type of physical training program. Here’s why you should, too.

Improve physical endurance. Did you know that a typical day on the golf course can include more than 100 swings, leaning over 30–40 putts and bending 40–50 times to pick up balls? If you choose to walk instead of using a cart, you’ll cover an average of 5 miles. That’s physically demanding! A solid cardiovascular routine can help you maintain greater shot control through the final hole.

Increase driving distance and swing form. Strength training can generate explosive power for boosting driving distance. A professional consultation is always a good idea before starting any kind of physical routine, but most trainers recommend that golfers focus on back and shoulder strength for posture, legs for driving power and core strength for symmetry.

Improve muscle balance. For golfers, many physical maladies are the result of strength imbalance. Swinging a golf club can be very one-sided, over-developing muscles on one side and neglecting the others. As Tiger Woods said, “My weight-training program is designed for balance, control and endurance. I lift to enhance my entire body because golf requires upper and lower symmetry. I also develop my right and left sides equally because it improves how I strike the ball.” Getting your body in balance can greatly decrease susceptibility for all kinds of muscle and ligament injuries.

Increase your range of motion. You can have all the physical strength in the world, but inflexibility limits your range of motion and club control. Improving flexibility can lead to a more fluid and precise swing. Static stretches for the shoulders, chest, back and legs are a great start. To take it to the next level, consider adding yoga to your cross training routine. And on the days you hit the course, don’t neglect a light warm up and cool down.

No matter how hard you work on drives or short game, targeted cross training can ensure your body is in top shape to take on the game’s mental challenges and demand for physical precision.