Golf Fitness

Golf Fitness

golf hole flag

A leisurely activity with few opportunities for injury, golf is a sport in which people of all ages can participate. Although the golf swing can be a difficult thing to develop, most people begin to get the hang of it after only limited practice and a few lessons.

While simply swinging a club has minor fitness benefits, the real benefit is in how an individual plays and approaches the game. for instance, by walking instead of riding a golf cart, the average golfer will walk up to four miles in a single round of golf (perhaps even more when the occasional ball goes awry).

By playing three or four games a week (18 holes per game), the fitness benefits are quite obvious. Add in carrying or pulling your golf clubs, and golf becomes a very effective way to promote muscle toning and good cardiovascular health. One of the greatest benefits to using golf in any exercise plan is the social interaction that can occur. Most golfers prefer to golf with friends or family, and this has many advantages.

By playing the game of golf with a golf partner, it is more likely that a person will stick to and enjoy their exercise plan. Having a plan and sticking to it is the most important part of any exercise program. Although golf injuries may be relatively rare, they can still occur since the golf swing involves a large range of motion and muscle activity throughout the body.

The Game of Golf

The modern game of golf originated in Scotland in the early 17th century, and was imported by the Flemings as a favorite activity.

The United States Golf Association defines the playing of golf as “based on playing a number of holes in a given order. A round typically consists of 18 holes that are played in the order determined by the course layout. On a nine-hole course, a standard round consists of two successive nine-hole rounds. Playing a hole on the golf course consists of hitting a ball from a tee on the teeing box (a marked area designated for the first shot of a hole, a tee shot), and once the ball comes to rest, striking it again. This process is repeated until the ball is in the cup.”

Training to Play the Game

Any serious golfer will ignore the gimmicky equipment and come to terms with the fact that strength training is required to maintain control of the ball and hit longer drives. The exercise sample listed below is meant to be done in the off-season. Perform the exercises as a circuit, or with each set being completed with minimum rest in between.

  • Length of Training: 8 weeks

  • Number of Training Sessions: 2 times a week

  • Resistance: 50% of single repetition maximum

  • Number of Repetitions: 15-20

  • Number of Circuits: 2-3

  • Rest Between each Set: 30 seconds

  • Rest Between each Circuit: 2-3 minutes

  • Speed of Lifts: Smooth and Controlled

The typical golf exercise program is as follows:


    golf putt

  • Push-ups x 15-20

  • Alternating Squats with Leg Presses x 15

  • Lateral Pull Downs (wide grip) x 15

  • Oblique Crunches x 20

  • Dumbbell Lunges x 10 (each leg)

  • Barbell Upright Rows x 15

  • Reverse Flyes x 15

  • Dumbbell Curls x 15

  • Back Extensions on Stability Ball x 20

  • Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls x 15-20

Note: The above fitness routine is simply a sample exercise program that emphasizes strength and agility and would be invaluable to a golfer working to improve their game.

Typical Injuries Associated With Golf

Back Pain: Results from poor posture during the swing and can cause minor injuries to the back that may easily develop into a serious injury.

Knee Pain: Occurs from the strain placed on a weak knee to stabilize the rotation of the hip axis at the beginning of the swing.

Shoulder Pain: In addition to rotator cuff tendonitis, shoulder pain may also signal a tear in the rotator cuff or arthritis in the joint resulting from joint and scapular instability.

Fracture Of The Hamate Bone: The hamate bone is a small bone on the pinky side of the wrist. Most golfers grip their clubs with the butt-end of the club right up against the hook of the hamate bone during the swing, leading to an eventual fracture of this tiny prominence. Symptoms include pain and tenderness in the left palm, as well as numbness in the ring and pinky fingers.

Preventing Golf Injuries

golf sand trap

Regularly performing a physical exercise routine helps prevent fatigue and provides the body with the strength and flexibility necessary to withstand the demands of the game for its full duration. To prevent golfer’s and tennis elbow, you need to build up your forearm muscles.

This can be done using a hand grip or squeezing a tennis ball for five minutes a day. Wrist curls using a lightweight dumbbell are also effective. By strengthening the muscles and tendons involved with golfers’ elbow, you can help prevent the problem from occurring or returning.

Thee are several simple, quick, and easy warm-up and stretching exercises that can go a long way towards preventing injuries:

Neck Rolls

Slowly perform clockwise and counterclockwise neck rolls.

Shoulder Stretches

Hold a golf club in front of you with a hand at each end of the club. Raise it over your head and hold. Then hold it the same way behind your back and lift up to stretch the shoulders and hold. Finally, grab each elbow with the opposite hand and pull it across your body to stretch the outside capsule of each shoulder.

Trunk Side Bends

With hands resting on your hips, bend side to side and hold.

Trunk Rotation

With arms crossed and hands resting on the opposite shoulders, rotate the shoulders and hold in each direction.

Swing Practice

Start swinging the club gently. At the driving range, hit shots starting with a pitching wedge and working up to the driver. If you can’t go to a driving range prior to playing, use the same warm-up without hitting any balls. Start with a half swing and work up to a full swing after several minutes. Focus on proper mechanics and a slow easy stroke.

Dietary Advice for Golfers

Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both of these are diuretics and cause fluid loss. They also affect performance. Coffee can overstimulate your mind and your muscles, making your performance uncontrolled. Excessive consumption of alcohol severely affects your coordination.

golfers with clubs

Eat 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day. This will provide your body with the nutrition it needs for energy and endurance. In addition, consuming 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day will stabilize your metabolism and minimize blood sugar level fluctuations.

Drink lots of water. Consume 8 to 10 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Continue throughout your round to stay hydrated, especially during the summer months.

Consume a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats at each meal. This aides in overall digestion and ensures that your body and mind are getting the proper nutrients to perform at their optimal level.

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