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The Masters Champion and Your Golf Game
Golf’s New Era of Fitness
I’m sure I’m not the only one with the lasting image stuck in my head of 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott after he sank that putt on the 72nd hole, and pumped his fists in celebration. The first thought that struck me was that if one were to transport that picture back in time twenty years and take the putter and the golf clothes off of his back, not one person would have guessed that it was a golfer you were looking at. A football player perhaps, a martial artist even, but certainly not a golfer would have that physique.
It made me think: how does what someone like Adam Scott relate to the average golfer? What can we learn from his approach to the game? What things does he do that amateur players don’t?
In order to figure that out, we must first look at your own relationship to the game and where you’re at currently. How do you approach the game? What are your expectations for your golf game? Are those expectations in line with your preparation for the game? A player like Adam Scott likely has a full time swing coach, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a mental coach and an agent all carefully managing and analyzing every aspect of his game right down to his meals, his workouts and routines. Now I know what you’re thinking: “I’m not Adam Scott, I don’t have his talent or his budget.” Exactly, but the point is, what can you learn from his and other Tour pros’ preparation that will help your game?
Controlling Your Swing and Your Expectations
Take a look at what your game is currently like. If you only play once or twice a month and only bang a bucket of balls the night before you play so you can “get your swing together” your expectations and preparation should be different from a player who plays once or twice a week, and hits balls once or twice a day. Casual golfers (such as the first example above) should be concerned mainly with managing the swing they currently have and not trying to change much. Let’s face it: you’re not playing enough for any swing changes you make to stick. You should be more concerned with stretching and loosening your “golf muscles” prior to your round. Take some swings in the garage the night before if you can, and when you’re at the course spend twice as long as you think is necessary stretching and loosening up before you even touch a ball.
The time spent on the range hitting balls prior to a round should be minimal, just enough to continue the loosening process and enough to get a feel for your swing for the day. The next phase of your warm-up should be spent on the putting green. Way too many players hit a half a dozen putts right before they tee off, but how many players are averaging more than half their strokes on the putting green? If you’re hitting more than 32 putts per round on average then you should be spending a bulk of your time on the putting green. And lastly for the casual golfer, just have fun. Take the swing that you’ve got, play it and lower your expectations of how you should be playing.
Getting Your Game to the Next Level
If you’re the player who has a weekly game, or plays more than three to four times per month, then a little more attention to your game is required. You’re playing enough that swing changes will begin to have an impact and become engrained into your swing. Seek out a PGA Professional to touch base with on a semi-regular basis. Once a month, check in and take a lesson to make sure that things are in the right place. Adam Scott is constantly consulting his coach and keeping things finely tuned. If you can afford to take one lesson per week during the season, it can make a huge difference in your game. The ability to have a trained professional know your swing and make suggestions can prove to take two to three strokes off of your average score very easily.
What about that personal trainer? Chances are you’re not going to hire a trainer specifically to keep your body in prime golf condition. So without that budget and option you have several choices. If you’re a member of a gym you have a head start already. Chat up some of the personal trainers and find out if any are specifically trained in sports therapy, rather than just personal training. If so, it might be worth it to purchase a couple of training sessions to have them put together an exercise routine focused on moves and techniques beneficial to the golf swing. Depending on your gym, and your relationship with the trainers some might even suggest a few options for you for no charge. Another, much cheaper option is to do some of your own research. Every golf magazine these days seems to have a section devoted to fitness and swing related exercises. There’s also the internet, which is full of videos and demonstrations of exercises. Just be sure you do your proper research before attempting anything. Titleist’s TPI program is probably the most extensive and impressive golf centered exercise program on the planet.
The bottom line is that every golfer should be concerned with their practice time, exercise and diet choices and how that relates to their golf game. However, that preparation should really be put in line with your expectations and approach to the game. You’re not Adam Scott so you don’t need to prepare like him, but you do need to find a level of preparedness that fits your game and actively work to pursue being the best you can be. This can only bring better scores, and more enjoyable rounds.