If you have watched professional golf during the last couple decades, you might have noticed the participants looking a bit more athletic. Happy Gilmore famously said all you need to golf is a big ass, and well, John Daly did win a couple majors in the 90′s, but the sport has certainly evolved. Thanks in part to gym nuts like Tiger and a host of other young, powerful and flexible players, golf and workout now appear in the same sentence. Don’t let Phil’s man-boobs throw you off, his win at Augusta did not come without sweating off the course (basketball is a favorite workout of his). If you want to improve your game and avoid injury (don’t laugh, Tiger has had many surgeries) include some of the workouts below into your summer prep routine.
Shred your core
A golf swing is all about movement and rotation. A weak core can inhibit rotation and allow your swing to get out of line. Your midsection, front and back must be strong enough to hold your upper body in position. Camilo Villegas, the limber Spaniard that lowers his body nearly to the ground to read putts, understand the importance of a steady core, and revealed to Golf Digest a favorite swing-improbing exercise, the Russian Twist.
To perform, you’ll need a medicine ball and a swiss ball. Position the swiss ball under your upper back. With your knees bent, keep your stomach parallel to the floor. Medicine ball in-hand, stretch your arms upward. From this starting position, slowly twist your trunk on your shoulders to each side until your arms are parallel to the ground. Focus on keeping you arms straight and core tight. This will work your lower back and shoulders while promoting separation between your upper and lower body.
An ab-ripper we use to balance against the Twist is the Plank. Simply prop yourself on your toes and elbows, keeping your body straight and stiff throughout. Hold yourself in this position for 30 seconds, then take a break. Try for 3-4 reps and increase the hold time as you become stronger.
A wimpy middle is a glaring problem for many, and golfers are no exception. Add these exercises to a normal day of lifting or to your dedicated ab routine to ensure you ability to rotate powerfully. Consider all pieces of your core, including your obliques and lower back.
Build the booty
Your gluteal muscles (your butt) are also very important to a golf swing. Combined with your hips, they are the top of your foundation and necessary to keep you steady. Golf Fitness Magazine reports that a weak behind can lead to your body sliding all round and putting the ball into the forest (they don’t point out your terrible slice, but we know they are thinking it). To build your gluteal strength, the magazine recommends the Bridge.
To perform, lie on face-up on a mat, knees bent and feet planted on the ground. From here, raise your hips upward so your feet and shoulders are the main points of contact with the mat. Focus on squeezing your butt tight, not your hamstrings. Now, slowly raise one leg of the ground, hold for 2 secs, and return it. Do the same with the opposite leg. Repeat this for 6-8 reps per leg. This exercise strengthens the glutes while building the stability of your hips and lower back.
Another classic butt-tightener is the Kick-back (Don’t worry, the government is not involved). Start on your hands and knees, with your back straight. From this position, raise one leg, keeping your knee bent. Your foot should extend above the level of your head. Bring the leg back and repeat. Again, keep your attention towards contracting your glutes throughout the movement.
You can prove Happy wrong by showing how a taught booty helps stabilize your mighty swing, leading to consistency in your game. Mix these moves in on your leg day, along with other exercises like side lunges or karaoke jugging that activate the hip/gluteal region. If you do it right, you might find your girlfriend taking a second look, and activating her hip region.
Stretch your body
You want a wide, arcing swing, but your muscles, tendons, joints, etc have other ideas. If you force yourself to swing outside of your natural, flexible range, your performance will suffer. The trick, obviously, is to make sure are as flexible as you need to be. Golf Digest offers what they call, the World’s Greatest Stretch. In a series of fluid movements, you are able to stretch almost every muscle in the body.
To complete the stretch, begin in a standing position and lunge forward. Place the hand opposite your lunging leg on the ground (similar to a sprinter in the blocks). Take the elbow of your other arm and place it inside the lunged leg and hold for 2 seconds. Then rotate that same arm straight towards the sky. Hold in the “T” position for 2 seconds. Again bring that arm inside the lunged leg, this time rotating and reaching across your stomach, holding for 2 seconds. Return to the standing position and repeat with the other leg and arm. Do not let your back knee touch the ground during this stretch.
Unlike real life, in golf, it’s not the biggest and strongest that win. However, if your muscles are stiff and underdeveloped, you will not be able to properly control your body while yielding your sticks. These exercises point out the oft overlooked parts of our routines. Neglect them no more, and own bragging rights on the 19th hole.