The Golfer’s Guide to Fitness

Golfers are finally starting to take their level of fitness as seriously as they do equipment and instruction when it comes to playing their best golf.  Consider the ease with which clubs, balls, bags, shoes, golf attire, and instructors are replaced. Unfortunately, the body is the most often ignored and non-maintained piece of golf equipment that a golfer utilizes in his or her golf game – yet it is the only piece of equipment that is irreplaceable. Many more golfers still have not included a fitness program in their ongoing game improvement routine. The benefits of incorporating a consistent and effective golf-specific fitness program are many: the disadvantages are few.  Lower scores, lower index, longer drives, more accurate putting, less aches and pains, less occurrence of injury, less fatigue, and greater focus are just some of the benefits – a number of studies have been done that support these results. The disadvantages might include lack of time or lack of money for a trainer or pre-existing physical limitations. However, everyone – golfers and non-golfers alike – all know how important exercise is for overall health and well-being, so there are really no viable excuses left. If you are able to golf, you are able to participate in some type of exercise program. Effective strengthening and stretching can be done in a small amount of time each day with minimal equipment, or can be done in a fully equipped fitness facility with a trainer. If consistent, as little as 10 minutes a day will produce measurable results. Programs can and should be tailored for each golfer’s physical limitations, but there is always a fitness program that can benefit your golf game.

A golf-specific fitness program is a combination of exercises that if performed consistently will improve the body’s strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, and balance capabilities.

What makes it a “golf fitness” program? Look for full-body, multiple-plane movements utilizing dumbbells, weighted medicine balls and cables or bands. Any type of core-oriented exercises involving frequent rotation with the hips and waist is going to be good. Medicine ball throws are very important for power development. Include leg strengthening exercises – the legs are the foundation of the golf swing and are crucial for that all-important endurance to avoid back-nine fatigue. Other equipment to look for includes foam rollers/half foam rollers, balance discs and stability balls. If your program mostly consists of traditional weight-lifting exercises, find another program and/or trainer. How to find a good program? Start by asking for referrals from other golfers or your favorite golf professional. The Internet is also a great source, either to find a trainer or a book, DVD or just a couple of exercises to incorporate into your daily routine – it’s all there. Do a search for “golf fitness” or “golf strength” or “golf flexibility”, and include the name of your town for more specific results. Make sure it’s a realistic endeavor – that you can start it and stay with it without being overwhelmed. It’s always a good idea to start small and add to it as it becomes a habit. How often to get results?  No less than 10 minutes, three times per week. For maximum flexibility benefits, stretch every day. It varies, but most golfers see a difference on the course in 2-6 weeks. Will these exercises compromise my finely-honed golf technique? No. One last thing to keep in mind – the most effective golf fitness program requires commitment and consistency, just as playing golf twice a week will improve your game more than if you play twice a month. Ultimately, the most effective program is one you incorporate into your life for the long term – ideally forever. Or at least for as long as you plan on playing golf!

Pritam Kirstine Andreassen is the owner of The Strength Connection, LLC. She can be reached at 206-579-8927 or please visit www.strengthconnection.com