Gone are the days of professional golfers neglecting and rejecting physical fitness. The ‘John Dalys’ in the world of golf are fewer and farther in between. Cartons of cigarettes in staff bags have been replaced with kinesio tape, resistance bands and granola bars.
It’s about time!
Golf is a sport that requires a certain level of athleticism and physical ability. If you want to play the game at a high level - for that matter, if you want to play with any level of consistency - you have to be able to depend on your body. This is where we see a clear shift in the way golfers prepare.
Why is Golf Changing?
Ultimately, it all boils down to performance. Golf is constantly changing and evolving. That’s nothing new.
Bobby Jones famously said, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.”
Anything that can (or a golfer believes can) boost performance, improve consistency, increase distance or help lower scores, golfers are going to try it.
The mental aspect of golf will forever remain a challenging variable. Most golfers accept that. Succeeding at this endlessly-challenging game is a matter of learning to manage the mental difficulties.
However, fitness is something tangible that golfers can control, and they do not want physical limitations to hinder their performance. This is precisely why we are seeing greater numbers of professional golfers prioritizing fitness for golf. Their daily routines now involve exercise and golf fitness.
Those are pros. What does that have to do with your average 10-or-20-something handicap?
For starters, amateur golfers emulate professionals. Take Jack Nicklaus and the 1986 Masters, for example. Nicklaus won the tournament using an unknown putter, the MacGregor Response. In the year after the Golden Bear’s historic victory, the company sold 350,000 of these previously-unheard-of putters.
Most of the individuals who purchased this putter weren’t under the illusion that it would lead them to a Green Jacket of their own. But if Jack Nicklaus used it and had success, why not them?
Similar accounts can be noted about professional golfers employing sand wedges, lob wedges, metal drivers and so on. The pros did it and got better. Maybe they’re onto something. After all, if someone who is already extremely good at golf makes a small change that improves their game, the average golfer can see improvement too, right?
Golf and Fitness
Golfers of all skill levels want to play better. In the 21st Century, this desire to improve one’s game has seen a heavy shift toward golf fitness.
To be clear, bulky muscles or training with the Navy SEALs might not be great for the long term state of your game. But improving flexibility - that’s got to be a benefit, right?
What if the physical aspect of the golf swing was less of an obstacle? What if you could freely rotate, twist and turn while maintaining stability down to the ground and gaining strength?
Pure strength doesn’t necessarily equate to hitting the ball farther. But gaining strength specifically tailored to the golf swing can help you to increase distance and play better.
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While distance receives a lot of the attention in the world of golf community, outdriving your opponents is useless if you are still unable to outscore them. A well-rounded golfer needs consistency to play well.
This is where fitness for golf becomes more important. This is where golf mobility is of utmost importance.
In the simplest terms, mobility is the ability to move. Digging in further, mobility incorporates strength, flexibility and coordination.
Strength, flexibility and coordination are also essential components of the golf swing.
Average golfers may have some of each component. Perhaps a decent amateur has great flexibility and coordination but lacks strength (or some other combination of these components). The difference between amateur and professional golfers is typical pro golfers are very flexible, have great coordination and are much stronger than they usually appear. This is why, above all else, elite golfers are consistent.
Consistency is key in golf, and this is why it has become commonplace for the world’s top golfers to have personal trainers and coaches who are trained and studied experts in fitness for golf. The PGA Tour even has a traveling fitness truck for all events (that also just so happens to have some really cool orange training sticks on board).
Whether you’re one of the world’s top professional golfers or someone who likes to play on occasion, playing better is always more fun. One of the best ways to play the game more enjoyably is to play with consistency. This comes from practice, of course, but it is equally important to put our bodies in a position to be able to physically perform consistently for several hours.
Better golf fitness by way of better golf mobility is one of the best ways to play the game more consistently.
With better golf fitness, you can swing freely. A swing that isn’t hampered by limitations in range of motion or overall body stiffness allows golfers access to a wider variety of shots. It also helps the golfer to make better contact in a variety of terrains, such as situations with uneven footing or when your balance is tested.
The importance of golf fitness and mobility is further illustrated in fatigue. After a couple of hours of swinging and hitting, it’s only natural that muscles begin to fatigue for many golfers. As muscle fatigue sets in, consistency wanes.
Shots are blocked off line. Overcompensating for fatigue might lead to a hook. Essentially, spraying the ball in all directions is more common with less consistency. Fatigue also affects distance. When distance and consistency are both impacted, scores go up and fun goes down.
The best way to play better golf and have a little more fun is by playing more consistently. One of the most important factors of consistency in the game of golf is golf fitness and mobility.
Non-contact sports injuries often occur when an individual is not adequately warmed up or fatigue sets in. Golf is no different. A proper warm up and recovery regimen, even a few minutes on each end, will have a tremendous impact.
Injury is one of the biggest challenges to a good golf game. As a sport where so much is simultaneously happening with the body all culminating in getting the club to a precise angle and point of impact - oh, and we’re also trying to do this with a lot of force - the slightest tweak or discomfort can lead to disaster.
Discomfort can lead to overcompensation, which is likely to hinder consistency. However, worse than poor play, injuries can be an enormous setback for golfers.
The golf swing involves muscles from the feet up through the legs and torso to hands, shoulders and head. You want to give your body the best chance to play the game without hurting yourself. Even those who just want to have fun on the course are susceptible to injury. And when a minor injury keeps you from joining your friends for a round, it can be quite frustrating.
One of the primary benefits of Stick Mobility Training is that it helps to reduce injuries. That’s why our Training Sticks are used by golfers of all levels, from juniors and collegiate players to professional teachers and several Major Champions.
Better mobility means that your body has better flexibility, range of motion, balance and coordination. With these improved aspects of fitness, you can strengthen your body in a wider variety of positions, too.
Better golf mobility is important for prevention of injuries.
A sport like golf that involves a lot of twisting and force while the body is in unusual positions can lead to injury for those who aren’t accustomed to the movements. This is evident, especially as we age, when we have not played golf in some time and then go out to play or hit balls for a few hours. Golfers are often feeling the effects the next day.
Soreness is an indication of overuse and fatigue. But that doesn’t mean we have to let it affect our game or lead to injury at some point.
Adequate, balanced preparation is key to playing better golf. Part of that preparation includes a focus on golf fitness and mobility. Grab a stick for a few minutes before and after your round. Your body and your golf game will thank you.
The game of golf changes slowly. The biggest shifts usually involve the technology and quality of equipment.
The game itself is not much different than it was a hundred years ago. How we approach the game and how we prepare to play it are the most noticeable changes in recent years.
Most of us play golf for fun. Ironically, the entertainment value of playing golf becomes an obsession for many of us.
Whether we play golf for a living, with friends on weekends or as serious amateurs, the importance of golf fitness and mobility cannot be overstated.
Bad breaks and bounces will happen. Gusts of wind are unpredictable. Even bad swings are bound to happen. What we don’t want is for our mobility and fitness, or a lack thereof, to get in the way of playing a good, enjoyable game of golf. Incorporate mobility work into your golf game. Not only can you see your game improve, you will feel better doing it.