People who know me and know how I train normally would be surprised to find out about my newest sports interest: golf. Why did I choose this? On the surface, it seems to be a complete antithesis to my usual workout repertoire: powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and aggressive sport training. In fact, it’s probably the only sport that some older and more seasoned athletes, like my father and my father-in-law, could beat me because it’s not all about strength and speed, like most sports are. It takes endless repetition and intense concentration. However, people mistake this to think that you do not need strength for golf. This is NOT the case; strength training is and should be an integral part of a golf athlete’s everyday practice. After analyzing the sport and playing it firsthand, I have come to the conclusion that most people just “practice” golf but do not “train” for the sport. Just like any other sport, golfers are athletes that need consistent training.
Although brute strength is not necessary to hit the ball, golf is not a sport for the weak. Certainly, the typical golfers do not look like the football running backs, power forwards, or bodybuilders, but the actual physics behind the sport is fairly violent. You take this stick, made of either steel or graphite, and you swing to hit a very small ball at least a 100 strokes in 4-5 hours, the approximate time it takes for a novice golfer to hit a 18-hole course. If your handicap is even higher, then this may add up to 120+ times during a course. The physics that play into one single golf swing is very complex. While swinging a golf club, you swivel and turn on multiple axes at the level of your feet, your knees, your hips, your back, and your shoulders. Very few other sports will require your body to do this on a constant basis. With swing speeds that vary from 70-100+ mph, this sport can get violent and physically traumatizing very quickly.
The stereotype of this “recreational sport” has been that any body type can play golf; hence it is often falls under the “recreational sports” category rather than the “competitive sports” category. Everyone loved John Daly on the tour for that reason. If you have been following the sport over the years, you probably saw that not only have the body types changed recently but the overall training schematic has changed with players. This shift occurred when Tiger Woods began dominating the field. His exceptional training regimen demonstrated how strength training can really improve the golfer’s performance. I’ll delve into the specifics of his style of training and nutrition in a later blog post, but the current generation of golfers can thank him for taking the training of golf to a whole new level. His training was the key to why he has dominated the golf scene for so long. The paradox of an excellent golfer like Tiger is that they could drive a ball effortlessly but with such great power. Both his endurance and his power were unprecendented in golf. This is why all golfers – pros and amateurs – need to train for golf. The strength training will not only help you play better but also play safer, by preventing injuries. The golf swing forces the body to pivot at various axes with power and speed. Just as proper training prevents musculoskeletal injuries in high impact sports like football, training can prevent injuries that are often seen with golf swings.
So what is the best training regimen to increase your golf game and to protect your body from the violence of the gold swing? Golf training is a little bit different because of the work that is being done in golf. It is a combination of mental training and physical training. The mental portion is the repetition and the intense concentration necessary to perform the same swing, regardless of the situation. This takes practice – A LOT of practice. Only going onto the course and range can help you with this. However, your power and endurance improves only with strength training. I like to do all sorts of weight lifting for golf. People have believed for years that lifting weights will get you bulky, maybe even too bulky to swing a club. This is false. It takes a whole different type of goal-directed training to bulk up like the body builders. So most of us amateur golfers can safely train with weights to build more muscle; most muscle equals more yardage and endurance.
To be continued…