Fitness Essentials For Golf
Is golf ready for fitness? Yes! What was once the exception is becoming the rule, especially as we see the success of motivated, talented players who practice fitness training. These players value physical fitness so much that an exercise trailer and full-time training and rehabilitative staff are now available for players at all USPGA events. Most of these exercise trailers are equipped with a Versaclimber, stationary bicycle, and Frankenslide slide board for aerobic conditioning. A single multistation resistance machine and a variety of dumbbells, medicine balls, and rehabilitation equipment round out the strength training options. Many exercise programs could be designed to use the golfer's own body weight, elastic tubing, and stabilization balls, however.
The staff is composed largely of physical therapists, but physicians and chiropractors also play active roles in the system. The physical therapists work long hours to provide the players with the expertise and knowledge to keep them on the course for improved physical performance and reduced injury risk.
Today's physically fit players appreciate the USPGA's trailers at tournaments. In fact, we're aware of one instance when the trailer was not available for a European Tour event and at least one well-known player withdrew from the tournament. The trailer is a means for some participants to get through a long and demanding competitive season; the exercise trailer provides an important source of physical and mental stability for golfers at the highest level of a tedious and technical sport. Golf is a game in which a small advantage in one area can mean the difference between finishing 1st or finishing 20th. Scan the pro tour statistics and you will see the difference between a person ranking 1st in the category and 25th or 30th could be as small as a quarter of a shot difference in scoring average. Multiplying that by four per round, however, shows that a small edge allows a player to win by one shot instead of losing by one shot. The other advantage to being fit is that when the body feels and functions well, the mind is more able to focus on the task at hand: the next shot.
History has shown that most golfers are not willing to spend a great deal of time working out, even if it improves their games. For this reason, golf conditioning programs should be efficient and address the areas where they will most benefit performance and reduce injuries. We must remember that not too long ago, other competitive sports arenas placed little or no emphasis on muscular development. In the 1960s, for example, few football teams participated in off-season strength training programs. Today, players require year-round strength training just to stay competitive. In the 1970s, basketball players were told to stay out of the weight room because strong muscles were incompatible with shooting ability. Now basketball players continue their strength training on a year-round basis. In the 1980s the Oakland A's won two World Series with strength-trained athletes such as Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire-big, strong, powerful men who hit many home runs during those championship years. It was not long afterward that strength training became accepted practice in the baseball community. We firmly believe that it is only a matter of time before golfers, too, recognize the necessity of physical conditioning. The new breed of player and the body type you see on the professional tour are indicative of what is happening in golf. The top young players are leaner, more muscular, and more flexible than the generation of golfers before them. This fitness training can reduce your physical limitations and help you optimize your swing pattern. Training enables more efficient transfer of momentum, which translates into improved ball striking capability and increased club head speed at impact.
A theoretical model has been created to compare baseball energy requirements to golf energy requirements. According to this construct, the amount of energy transferred to a golf ball hit 300 yards is of about the same magnitude as the energy transferred to a baseball hit 300 feet from a resting position. Consider that a 10-handicap golfer will take about 50 hard swings and another 50 to 75 practice swings, per round, with a club that weighs slightly less than a baseball bat. If you compare this golfer to the baseball player who bats five times during a game and takes about 15 total swings, it is easy to see a difference in swinging requirements. Furthermore, golfers walk about 8,000 yards per round; a center fielder travels less than 2,000 yards, moving back and forth to the dugout between innings. Even including movements to run base paths or chase down fly balls, the total distance traveled by a baseball player does not come close to that traveled by a golfer. The conclusion is that though golf may require less intensity than baseball, the greater volume of activity provides higher overall energy costs when compared to baseball. The baseball community having accepted physical training as part of its program, we are confident that golfers soon will follow suit.
Is your fitness level appropriate for high-performance golf?