February 19, 2013

The Under-the-Radar Importance of Golf Fitness Training

By Scott McCormick, GolfNow

Over the past decade, the average driving distance of PGA tour players has continued its exponential increase.  By 2010 – for instance – the driving distance average of a tour pro was just shy of 290 yards.  In 1980, not a single professional golfer notched a driving average over 280 yards.

There are a multitude of other statistical factoids like the one above that all point to the same general trend: the ability of top golfers to drive the ball deep has been on the rise considerably in recent years, and the tendency is increasing with each passing year.

When the trend is discussed among golf fans and commentators, it is often lamented that these increases are rendering older golf courses obsolete and the game has fundamentally changed since the halcyon days of Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson.

This is a debatable point — there are pros and cons to the distance boosts of big time players — but when the cause of these distance advancements are considered, for both good and ill, most of the attention is on technological innovations that have aided golfer distance.

And while there can be no doubt that advancements in club and ball technology has played a large role in the rapidly improving statistics, it would be inaccurate to attribute the recent trend entirely to the equipment manufacturers.

Much like other athletic endeavors in the 21st century, record setting feats are triggered in large respects by improved fitness and conditioning.

Curiously, the role that better fitness plays in the sport’s improvements doesn’t get much attention as compared to the focus on technology, despite the fact that the game’s best – both amateur and professional – rely heavily on systematic fitness routines to achieve their level of play.

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While club improvements like titanium shafts and 460 CC driver heads get most of the credit in the sporting press, golfers themselves have long realized that how big a role golf fitness exercises, stretches and workouts play in improving their game and accomplishing peak performance.

It seems so counterintuitive, but fitness regimens for golf are relatively new – for much of the sport’s 20th century history, exercises designed specifically for golf improvement were not only unpopular, but they were actively frowned upon, with only a handful of mavericks like Gary Player openly embracing golf fitness.

Fortunately, this archaic train of thought was gradually dismissed and the golfing establishment began to understand the role that fitness can have in improving the play of golfers.

There are multiple facets to the overall golf fitness spectrum, and the best golfing athletes conduct workouts designed to improve a number of areas, including:

  • Increased muscle strength – Particularly in golf-specific muscles, improved strength is a crucial element in the increase of power that is at the root of longer driving distances.  The upper body, lower body and trunk are considered the key areas to focus on where golf strength training is concerned.
  • Stability and balance training – Proper posture and body control is vital to consistent golf, and many training regiments make balance and stability the focal point of the routine.
  • Improved mind-body connection – Golf is a game that requires the peak mental performance as much as physical prowess, and moreover a symbiotic relationship between the actions of the mind and the body.  Many golf training methods incorporate mind-body exercises into the routine.
  • Muscle memory training – Learning to properly and consistently swing a golf club can be said to be a muscle memory trainer in-and-of-itself, but many golfers also include some stabilization training into their routine to teach the body how to better perform certain actions in a consistent fashion.

There are a number of golf fitness and training approaches that have proven to work for golfers hoping to improve their overall game – whether they are tour pros or weekend warriors.  And while it hasn’t gotten as much attention as the technological advancements that have occurred in the game, the improvement in fitness knowledge in and around the game has had a dramatic effect on the performance of its finest players, and many of the more casual golfers as well.

Scott McCormick has incorporated a golf-specific fitness and training program into his normal exercise routine.  Astonishingly, he still can’t drive the ball over 250 yards.  Nevertheless, he is an esteemed golf commentator for the golf discount provider GolfNow.com.








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