Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Exercise Affect Golf Swing

For many years, there only seemed a tenuous link between health, fitness and golfing ability. In bygone times, golfers would eschew physical exertion for extra time on the range, honing their golf skills and believing that the fitness side of the game would ‘take care of itself’.

That trend changed when golfers soon realised that being physically healthy, fit and eating well played an important part of their overall golfing ability. While occasionally, modern players who are more generously proportioned can win a competition or two, nowadays most modern players spend almost as much time in the gym and with the nutritionist, as they do out on the course.


Tiger Woods is a perfect example, his golfing strength is often remarked upon but that has been cultivated not just through his own innate golfing ability, but by many hours in the gym. Swedish female former world number one Annika Sorenstam was another who frequently worked out to bring their bodies into the best shape possible to play and both enjoyed spectacular results both in the gym and out on the course. Indeed, Tom Watson many years before noted: “All things being equal, the stronger I get, the better golfer I will be.”

Soon, it became increasingly apparent that the days of burgers and fries following a round, followed by copious amounts of Guinness, was a thing of the past. Golfers became the new health freaks as professionals ditched extra hours at the range and installed gym facilities in their homes and employed fitness coaches and nutritionists as part of their ever growing entourage.


There is a word of caution here. As reported on an article on the Golf News website, Two famous ex-players, Johnny Miller and Byron Nelson both found that bulking up with muscle had a disastrous effect on their golfing game. Miller stated that this added beef “killed his game”. Brad Faxon too was warned of the dangers of the gym by fellow professional Chi Chi Rodriguez who warned the youngster as a tour rookie in 1983, after he had been spotted entering a fitness trailer for a short workout. “I saw you going in that trailer today,” stated Rodriguez to Faxon afterwards “If you want a nice long career, stay out of there.”

It was probably Gary Player who first began to change attitudes towards exercise. He realised that golf specific exercises, that strengthened the core muscles used in golf, would be far more beneficial to a golfer than traditional gym exercises. Player was, at the time, part of the ‘big three’ in golf with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, both of whom were physically far bigger than Player and it was the South African who first realised that to keep up with his contemporaries, he would need a health and fitness regime.

golf and food

Player now recalls on Golf News that “perhaps the biggest change was that in my 50s I had to go and find a local YMCA to work out and everyone ridiculed me. Today, we have a fitness trailer following the tour and the same guys who used to laugh at me are in there working out like crazy.”

In addition to exercises specific for golfers, nutrition is also playing an important role. Golfers are now more savvy than ever these days about how their calorie intake impacts on their playing. This is important to them in two ways, firstly it allows their bodies to develop physically the way they need it to in order to remain at the top of their game by taking in the right nutrients at the right time. Secondly, by eating the right food at the right time, golfers can ensure their energy levels remain high throughout a 72+ hole competition.


Of course, on occasion there will be the times when golfers with the physique of John Daly or Darren Clarke win on tour. But even Open winner Clarke has installed a gym in his home to ensure that he has access to fitness equipment when necessary. The trend nowadays has for golfers to be every bit as aware of their health, fitness and nutrition as even the most physical of sportsmen.

The great thing about golf though is that whether you have a six-pack washboard stomach, or a beer barrel, you can still compete. The game is not about how fit you are, it is more about how well you play.

However, there is little doubting that the fitter you are, the better you will play, more often, with less risk of injury and with better results.

Images by Gorilla Golf Blog©

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