Golf is a recreational sport, much like tennis, biking, running and swimming. But for many years, it was linked more closely to bass fishing and ping pong than actual sport. The public’s perception of golfers was they rode in golf carts and smoked cigars, and thus everyone with a set of clubs, a sleeve of balls, and 4-5 hours of free time was fit to play 18 holes.
It’s true that many years ago golfers did very little on the way of stretching or working out to get ready to play a round of golf. Most of the professional golfers on television in times past only perpetuated the myth that golfers weren’t athletes. They looked more like Abbott and Costello than Mantle and Mays. There were few players who challenged the norm, like Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, but for the most part, fitness did not seem to be an essential requirement for excelling at golf.
In the 1980’s Greg Norman began to lay the foundation for a new athletic standard in golf. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s, when Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam convincingly dominated the game that professional golfers started to be viewed as athletes. More and more Tour pros hit the gym to try and compete with Tiger and Annika, and it spawned a fitness revolution in golf that has forced many golf courses to lengthen yardage – in order to keep up with the game’s longer hitters. Professional golfers on all tours are stronger, more flexible, and fitter than ever before.
So what about you? Will your fitness really allow you to make the golf swing that you are trying to make? Knowing what you want your body to do is one thing, being physically able to do it is another. Your physical limitations can and will impact what you can and can’t do with your golf swing. The stronger and more flexible you are, the more control you have over your body movement and thus, the golf club, and thus again, the ball.
Poor strength and speed undermine your power. Inflexibility and balance undermine your rhythm, making contact and direction inconsistent. Even fatigue invites inconsistent, sloppy and careless swings both on the course and in your practice.
So…stop pretending that golf isn’t a physical sport. While it’s certainly not rugby, it’s not chess either. Get yourself aligned with a qualified golf coach AND fitness specialist. – Dr. Rick Jensen
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