In past decades, the role of physical fitness has not been a primary focus of most golfers’ games. However, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jack Nicklaus began to show interest in, and subsequently draw attention to, the role that physical fitness plays in improving your golf game. As he engaged in more exercise himself, Nicklaus began to see the edge that he gained in his game and over his competitors.
For a variety of reasons, incorporating physical exercise and fitness into golf training is essential. In general, the greater your overall health, the better you will golf. During the off-season, the average golfer can put on between five and ten pounds. Not only is gaining weight harmful to your health, carrying extra weight prevents your hips from rotating as quickly as they would otherwise. They have less powerful drive which results in a less effective swing.
Working to keep weight down during the off-season can also keep you focused on your golf, even when you are not playing regularly. Having a goal of maintaining a healthy weight will help you set and work toward golf-related goals throughout the entire year. To do this, regular cardiovascular activity is an essential part of a workout routine. It can be jogging outdoors, using your favorite treadmill or elliptical machine at the gym, or any activity of your choice that gets your heart rate up.
You may even want to go walk the golf course you regularly play. Even if it is closed for the season, you may be able to walk the paths. This will keep you familiar with the course and even give you the chance to look at and analyze it in a way you have not previously. Walking nine holes on a hilly course is the equivalent of walking two and a half miles, and gives you the chance to be in a spot that you love, even if you are not playing.
In addition to getting regular cardiovascular exercise, strength training is important to not only maintain your health but also to develop your strength for improved golf swings. For instance, good hip strength will allow you to have a faster swing. Many people are concerned that strength training will cause them to become bulky, hindering rather than improving their golf game. However, when done properly, strength training allows people to gain strength without increasing their bulk. One of the best ways to do this is to use your own body weight in your workouts, doing exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, squats or lunges all without added weight.
Whatever type of exercise you do, your workouts should be focused on improving endurance, flexibility and core strength. These are all areas that can be affected in a good cardio or strength training workout, but one of the favorite ways to focus on these areas is through yoga. Many golfers have started to practice yoga, even golf-specific poses and stretches, because of the improvement they see in their flexibility as well as the way it can improve core strength, which in turn helps increase control of the body and results in better golf shots.
Following every workout, be sure to stretch. This is an important part of overall health for everyone, but particularly golfers, because the less flexible you are, the shorter and less effective your swing will be. Important stretches are those that focus specifically on your hips and back.
All off-season long, it will be important to stay focused on your golf game and pay attention to the ways you can improve, even off of the course. As you engage your golf mind, you can continue to become a better golfer, although you are not playing regularly. You can watch videos about golf technique or have your swing recorded and analyzed by a pro to learn what to do differently in the upcoming season. As you practice swinging off the course, you will be able to stay focused on your game.
Maintaining your health, both physical and mental, is a very important part of being a good golfer. The action you take off of the course can be just as important to a well-played game as the shots you take. Staying physically healthy and mentally focused will play a critical role in helping you lower your score and maintain your golf skills all year long.