‘GOLF FIT­NESS IS RE­ALLY STILL IN ITS IN­FANCY’

Golf Digest Middle East - - The Golf Life -

t the same time, My­ers says golf is be­hind other sports in fit­ness coach­ing be­cause it lacks full ac­cep­tance by play­ers, and there’s a rel­a­tive lack of doc­u­men­ta­tion about cause and ef­fect. My­ers re­mem­bers meet­ing Player, then in his 60s, in the 1990s and hear­ing the Hall of Famer con­fess that he wasn’t sure what part of the life­long reg­i­men he had so dili­gently fol­lowed had ac­tu­ally been ad­van­ta­geous for golf. Nor­man, an early ad­her­ent of in­tense ex­er­cise who tried to im­prove on Player’s ex­am­ple, now ad­mits that if he had done things dif­fer­ently, he might have avoided some of the surg­eries he faced late in his ca­reer and af­ter his re­tire­ment from com­pe­ti­tion. “Golf fit­ness is re­ally still in its in­fancy,” My­ers says.

Joey Dio­visalvi, who trains John­son and Koepka, be­lieves that although golf-fit­ness knowl­edge is ac­cel­er­at­ing be­cause of the in­creased needs on tour, more mis­takes are pos­si­ble be­cause play­ers are push­ing harder than ever to gain an edge. “In­jures are more com­mon than ever be­cause play­ers are more ag­gres­sive and they’re not afraid to do the things that they have to do to per­form,” says Dio­visalvi, known as Joey D. “It doesn’t mean they’re smart enough or dili­gent enough to do the proper prep work.” Dio­visalvi poses the ques­tion, “Did Tiger do things that were po­ten­tially rogue?” re­fer­ring to ac­counts of Woods’ Navy SEAL-style train­ing and per­form­ing ex­er­cises like tech­ni­cal Olympic­style lifts with ex­tra weight that went against the ad­vice of his then-long­time trainer, Keith Kleven. “He could have.”

Dio­visalvi sees a need for im­prove­ment in the field in pre­con­di­tion­ing golfers for chal­leng­ing work­outs, and in un­der­stand­ing the proper re­cov­ery pro­to­cols to lessen in­jury. “When play­ers come back from be­ing hurt or fa­tigued, some­times they’ve given them­selves their own green light, and they re­turn too soon,” says Dio­visalvi, whose first clients when he be­gan help­ing tour play­ers were Jes­per Parnevik and Vi­jay Singh. “I don’t know if we’ve done a great job in golf get­ting play­ers to un­der­stand that proper re­cov­ery sim­ply takes time. You start to re­alise that, left to their own judg­ment, re­cov­ery is not some­thing they do well.”

The ar­gu­ment runs counter to the crit­i­cism that cur­rent play­ers of­ten get for skip­ping too many tour­na­ments. The ba­sis is the rel­a­tive iron­man sched­ules that were com­mon, espe­cially among jour­ney­men, in pre­vi­ous eras. But Jack Nick­laus—and later Faldo and Woods— showed the ef­fec­tive­ness of a shorter sched­ule de­signed to peak for ma­jors.

More than ever, many of to­day’s play­ers have the eco­nomic lux­ury of wait­ing un­til they’re men­tally ea­ger and phys­i­cally primed be­fore em­bark­ing on a string of tour­na­ments. Given that those choices are now more com­pli­cated be­cause the more ex­ten­sive world­wide tour­na­ment sched­ule ef­fec­tively length­ens the play­ing sea­son, fit­ness train­ers, Dio­visalvi sug­gests, should strongly en­cour­age a pace mod­eled on the way horse train­ers hold out prize thor­ough­breds to run only when they are fully rested, and prefer­ably for the big­gest races. ‘ TO SAY THAT PEDS DON’T EX­IST IN GOLF, I DON’T BE­LIEVE THAT’ io­visalvi also sounds a warn­ing that in­creased train­ing by golfers brings with it the pos­si­ble use of per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs.

“We have to get a hold of that in golf,” he says. “I don’t be­lieve it’s as com­mon as in other sports, but I would never doubt that it’s go­ing on. Some guys will take the risk be­cause the fi­nan­cial temp­ta­tion pushes them be­yond their abil­ity to think ra­tio­nally.

“To say that PEDs don’t ex­ist in golf, I don’t be­lieve that. When they start blood test­ing [ in the 2017-’ 18 PGA Tour sea­son], we’re go­ing to see a whole dif­fer­ent dy­namic.”

As Faldo says, there’s an­other chap­ter to be writ­ten on the role of fit­ness in golf. It will likely be one in which train­ers will have a more de­fin­i­tive han­dle on the proper pro­to­cols.

“We all rel­ish those mo­ments when a great ath­lete pushes the lim­its of what a hu­man be­ing can do, and it’s a thrill to be part of that,” Sup­piah says. “But more and more, for ev­ery one of those mo­ments, even in golf, the ath­lete will be on the edge of be­ing in­jured or break­ing down. Could be through a train­ing reg­i­men, or in­tense prac­tice ses­sions, or on the edge of men­tal ex­haus­tion. That’s what the great­est ath­letes do, and what the new de­mands of golf are mak­ing the great­est golfers do. The ath­letes will al­ways want to go there. It just means that in golf, the train­ers who can prop­erly guide them will be­come even more valu­able.” sep­tem­ber 2017 golfdigestme. com

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