There is a cliché used in the golf industry the past few years: “Get fit like the pros.” It generally refers to golf clubs and balls, but we’d like to offer you a different version of being fit … as in golf fitness and nutrition.
Professional players have become believers in golf fitness and nutrition over the past few years, but we have not seen it drop down to the amateur golfers or competitive junior golfers on a regular basis though we feel it is the “new” tool to playing better golf. Gary Player was a big advocate of fitness years ago, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Jack Nicklaus would play tennis to get his legs ready for golf. It sure seems to have helped both of those great champions.
Recently we began a series of workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area aimed at high school golf teams and junior golfers in general. The concept of our workshops address that there are specific parts of the golf swing that can be improved by focused fitness and strength training, just like the pros are doing. We also have key ideas on nutrition to help with stamina during a golf round as well as improved overall health.
Golf Is An Athletic Pursuit!
In sports such as football, baseball and wrestling, there appears to be heavy physical training that that increases at the college level. A number of college teams encourage fitness for their players, but our effort is to encourage fitness at a younger age. We also want to clarify the argument that, yes, golf is an athletic endeavor.
These ideas are not restricted to juniors, of course; they can help any golfer. We see a few senior golfer embrace fitness and it truly helps them keep their game sharp into their later years.
In the golf swing, you can break down the swing in regard to what fitness options will help, and certainly each person has his or her own issues. There are now fitness certifications for golf professionals, who in turn offer fitness ideas in relation to the golf swing. This is especially important if you have a regular issue in your golf swing, and likely some sort of specific fitness regime can be helpful.
Get To The Core
The legs and core (abdominals) are the foundation for the golf swing. There is turning and coiling into the back swing, some weight shift from the front foot to the rear foot and then back to the front foot into the finish and follow-through. For all of this to be consistent, the quads, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus need to be strong. Also engaged is the erector spinae; located at the base of the spine, it provides stability in the lower part of a squat and also helps to twist your torso. Basic squats are a great way to work this area.
A Medicine Ball is a very affordable tool to mimic a golf swing. As you get into the backswing using the medicine ball, you will feel your quads and your core talking to you, and that is a sign you are addressing those two key areas of your body. Similar to a baseball player starting his swing, the downswing starts with a weight shift towards the target — all because of the core and your quads supporting it.
For golfers struggling with stiffness in the hips — and that’s most of us — working on the hip-flexors can be very helpful. One valuable stretch: lay on your bed, use your hands to pull your right knee toward your chest, and gently hang your left leg with your knee bent over the side of the bed. Another version: lie on your back, bend one knee, bring the other foot up to your knee and with your hands, gently pull that knee across to the opposite leg. You will feel a stretch in your hip area.
Feed The Engine
Nutrition can also help with your golf game. Your body is like the car in a race and it needs to be fine-tuned and properly fueled.
Recently women on the LPGA tour have been noted as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for their round of golf, cutting it into about eight pieces and eating one of the pieces every two or three holes. Each sport subscribes to different nutrition ideas and goals, but this seems to be a very wise way to go for women on tour. Stay hydrated as well — begin this before the round, and treat your body like the important engine that it is for optimal performance.
In a recent workshop we asked a group of about 10 high school players what they had for breakfast. It was a bit of a shock, but not a total surprise. About 80 percemt had a bowl of sugary cereal, only a couple of them had any type of protein or eggs. For many years eggs got a bad rap for their connection to high cholesterol, but now eggs are getting broad praise as a sort of a “super food” for breakfast.
Also consider eating fresh fruit with your breakfast. Eating an orange is better than drinking a glass of juice. You can learn a lot about the nutritional value of food by studying the Glycemic Index as it shows at what rate foods digest through your body.
So if you agree with the theory that golf is an athlete endeavor, a combination of fitness and nutrition is an important part of the equation for success. Your mind will work with more clarity and your body will respond to the situations found only on the golf course.
We are excited about our Fairway to Fitness workshops and feel that you can adopt our ideas as well. Cynthia has developed a Skype training program; check out her training videos to master your squats and use of the medicine ball as well as other training tips. Workshops are offered via Skype as well. Reach out to her at [email protected], www.CynthiaFit4You.com. You can contact John at [email protected] or www.Hookedongolf.com.