In the modern-day era, Tiger Woods showed the golf world that the game should be considered much more of an athletic sport. His dominance on the course with his length, shot-making ability and mental toughness has been jaw dropping at times. Now, the golfing masses can envision the future of the game loud and clear by watching players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Kopeka and others. Each week there are more players than ever who have a chance to win golf tournaments at the highest level. While improved instruction has played a role over the years, the real game changer has been the development of the mental toughness and physical shape of the modern players.
There is so much off course preparation that most of these elite players are doing. Players now spend almost as much time in the gym as they do on the practice range.
Top players understand to play their best golf week in and week out they need to eat well, exercise, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Part of that protocol certainly includes strength training, but let’s focus on basic endurance training and hydration. Consider a time when you were required to walk a long or hilly course, or you were playing in a tournament that took longer than normal.
In these situations, you will wind up fatigued without some basic off-course conditioning. I generally recommend that my students add aerobic exercise to their routine, if they are not currently doing so. The intensity and amount of exercise should be determined in conjunction with your doctor, but if you are able, consider a minimum of 30-45 minutes at least 3x a week. This may include cycling, treadmill or any other form of exercise that elevates your heart rate over a period of time. When you’ve developed a basic aerobic fitness level, add interval training with speed bursts, such as sprinting.
Along with the technical skills, golf is very much a power and speed sport and high intensity training can be added to improve the faster recruitment of muscles for speed. Otherwise, you may find your lack of aerobic fitness affecting your game. Your physical and mental skills may start to diminish during your round, leading to poor shot selection, execution and overall mental fatigue.
Hydration is also very important while playing golf. We all know how important hydration is for overall well-being, but it can’t be stressed enough to stay hydrated during a round of golf. According to the International Sports Medicine Institute, most athletes are mildly dehydrated before they begin to play or practice because they haven’t had enough water to drink.
Some basic symptoms for mild dehydration are flushed face, extreme thirst, darker than normal urine, dry lips, mild headache, irritability, and poor decision making on the course. The medical community has slightly different advice, but a general goal when playing golf is to drink water equal to around half your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 200lbs then consider drinking 100 oz. of water daily.
Remember, this does not include all the other drinks your have during the day. A good way to divide the water intake as a golfer is to drink 25% of your water early in the morning, 50% of your daily intake during a golf round and then drink the remaining 25% during the balance of the day. And if you sweat during your round, replace the lost electrolytes. I have found good supplements to be added to water at most health stores. If you drink Gatorade or other sport drinks, consider adding water to dilute the sugar to avoid the sugar spike. STAY HYDRATED.
With some endurance training and a good hydration regime you will likely remain mentally sharp next time you tee it up. Go out and play your best golf.
Brech Spradley, PGA, Director of Instruction/Owner
Barton Creek Golf Academy