Becoming a personal trainer is like becoming a coach. Depending on the sport you training for depends on the knowledge and muscle groups critical to not only long term health but increased performance. Golf is a curious sport for training. Many causal spectators or amateur golfers might see golf as a sport that requires minimal training and any person can play. However, the contrary is truer.
A good example is Tiger Woods. After he burst onto the scene of golf’s biggest stages in 1996, he changed the game forever. Previous golfers had big guts and bad habits. Tiger came onto the scene with a workout that rivaled some football players. Surveying the best golfers in the world in 2019, many of them have a strict exercise and diet regimen giving strength to the case that heavy exercise is critical to performance and excellence.
Golf weight training requires hyper-focus on the form. A golf swing requires incredibly high levels of both precision and repeatability. A strong focus for trainers should be put on the core and lower body. Professional golf swings generate incredible torque on the lower body and torso.
Tiger Woods is a good example of what happens if the body is not adequately strengthened or is deteriorating over time. Because his swing relies on heavy torque and release of energy from the lower body into the hips, Tiger’s knees, specifically his left knee, was severely injured over time. If Tiger was not in peak physical condition, his knee would have deteriorated much faster. If he wanted to adjust his swing to remove some of the torque, he would lose performance and distance which sets him apart from other golfers.
The key takeaway for trainers working with golfers is form and balance. Like a precise balancing act, if one part of the golfer’s body is out of sync or stronger/weaker than the other, it can cause dramatic deterioration or injury. Trainers should focus on core and lower body exercises to help golfers generate power through torque in the torso area. Resistance training on the obliques and other lateral core muscles is critical to translating power into a golf swing.
Cardio and Running
Golf may not require fast bursts of speed but professional golfers are on their feet five hours a day six days in a row. A professional tournament has two days of practice rounds and four days of competition. Unlike a casual golfer that takes a golf cart around the course, professional golfers are required to walk. A good cardio regimen prepares golfers’ legs and feet for long hours on their feet between walking and standing.
Another important aspect of a good cardio regimen is the effects on mental sharpness and aptitude over long hours on the course. Keeping your heart rate lower over time allows you to focus better and think clearly during your swing.
Diet and Health
Golf is typically played over the warmer months of the year. This means athletes need to be prepared to be under strenuous temperature conditions for several hours a day. One of the most important parts of training golfers is assuring they understand the importance of hydration before and during a round of golf. As stated above a golf swing is about precision, repeatability, and balance. If any part of a golf swing is out of balance, it jeopardizes the performance of the entire swing. Even a minor change in the swing translates to large down range issues.
Avoiding cramping and dehydration is the first line of defense against lagging long term performance of golfers. Second, is making sure the diet is correct several days before and during the tournament. Since rounds of golf require standing for four to five hours in a row, golfers require a diet that allows them to maintain high performance over several days and hours. Professional golfers will play five-hour rounds for four days. The difference between champions and the next tier is dietary performance and recovery.
Unlike football and basketball, golfers are required to play six rounds of golf in a row including practice rounds. This can be demanding being on your feet every day for five straight hours.
The precision of golf requires incredible mental strength. Jordan Spieth at the 2016 Masters had a five-shot lead going into the 12th hole. He had played this hole to perfection the day before scoring one under par but the unforgiving Rae’s Creek had other plans. His first shot went right into the water. He dropped shot was even worse and ended up in the water is well. Spieth squanders a five-shot lead in two holes and could not recover mentally.
Incorporating mental training into any exercise regimen creates a positive rebounding space where errors are invited. Building failure and mental rebounding into a workout give golfers the best chance at performing when they are starting to get physically drained.
Jordan Fuller is a golf coach, mentor, and writer. He owns a publication site, https://www.golfinfluence.com where he shares some tips and guides on how to play golf, improve a swing, and choosing the right equipment.