How to tee up a health­ier you

How your swing can ben­e­fit from fit­ness train­ing

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Golf isn’t ex­actly viewed as the most ath­letic of sports. But fit­ness and ex­er­cise play an in­te­gral part in the modern game.

Four-time ma­jor win­ner Rory McIl­roy is just one strik­ing ex­am­ple of a player who has put the spot­light on fit­ness to help mas­ter the sport. The cur­rent crop of Euro­pean Tour big-hit­ters – think Spain’s Rafael Cabr­era Bello, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pi­eters – are all ex­tremely fit and toned in­di­vid­u­als who have to­tal con­trol over the white ball.

Most of the modern-day pro­fes­sional golfers in­cor­po­rate some kind of gym rou­tine into their prac­tice sched­ule, while many are into yoga and pi­lates.

McIl­roy, and 14-time ma­jor win­ner Tiger Woods, even copped heat for ex­ten­sive gym rou­tines.

But golf leg­end Gary Player told BBC Sport: “Your body is a tem­ple and you have got to treat it as such.”


Player, 80, cred­its his skill and longevity to a life of eat­ing well, ex­er­cis­ing cor­rectly and ed­u­ca­tion. But for the am­a­teur golfers out there – the week­end hack­ers – could fit­ness re­late to our per­for­mance? Fit­ness ex­perts point out that any­thing phys­i­cal we do is af­fected by our body’s func­tion­al­ity, and so fit­ness and mus­cle health and mo­bil­ity is a cru­cial com­po­nent of that. If you’ve got a tight back it can af­fect the pre­ci­sion of your shot, just as much as hav­ing a weak core can de­tract from your body’s ro­ta­tion. Chris Miller, a trainer at Strength Gym, ex­plains it’s not just mus­cle mass that’s im­por­tant: “If you look at the pro­fes­sion­als now al­most all of them see im­prove­ments and ben­e­fit from a struc­tured work­out rou­tine that not only im­proves strength but also mo­bil­ity. Us­ing a foam roller and in­cor­po­rat­ing a move­ment spe­cific stretch­ing rou­tine will help to im­prove mo­bil­ity whereas a whole body strength rou­tine with em­pha­sis on im­prov­ing speed and ro­ta­tional force pro­duc­tion will help give you more ‘bang for your buck’ in your golf swing.”


Mark Greg­son-Wal­ters, di­rec­tor of in­struc­tion at the Euro­pean Tour Per­for­mance In­sti­tute at Jumeirah Golf Es­tates, ex­plains that just as much as be­ing fit can help your game – be­ing un­fit can have neg­a­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions. He says: “Lack­ing in fit­ness will limit the stan­dard that you can achieve. Po­si­tions in the golf swing may not be pos­si­ble, good strik­ing of the ball or speeds to hit the ball could all be lim­ited.”

And just as your fit­ness can help your game, so can your game help your fit­ness.

Miller ex­plains: “You have the phys­i­cal as­pects of the game that I think of­ten go un­der­rated. The ro­ta­tional forces that you put your body through will in­crease strength in the ab­dom­i­nal core and in a va­ri­ety of mus­cle groups through­out the body.

“It will also help to im­prove mo­bil­ity through the body, if you’re not mo­bile in the right ar­eas it will re­strict your swing and there­fore neg­a­tively im­pact your game.”

Added to that, a day on the fair­ways can be good for stress-man­age­ment (for more than just a day off work).

Greg­son-Wal­ters says: “It is also very good for men­tal health and sur­pris­ing how men­tally tired you feel af­ter play­ing. Giv­ing a good night’s sleep. It’s also a great re­lax­ing way to over­come weekly stress.”

‘You can burn a sur­pris­ing num­ber of calo­ries in a round of golf’ – Mark Greg­son-Wal­ters

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