How to tee up a healthier you
How your swing can benefit from fitness training
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