Golf—is it an endurance sport? Some people would say absolutely. After all, 18 holes of golf for someone not using a cart requires walking an average of five miles on the day, and that’s up and down hills. How many non-professional athletes can walk five miles, pull a cart, or even carry a bag full of clubs, and still be able to execute the skill required to play a decent round.
But even though you are mentally ready for the season, if you have not been working on your conditioning, you really aren’t ready. It is the unprepared athlete, either mentally or physically, that usually fails to perform at his best—or even worse, gets hurt. It is important that we use the weeks before we play to sharpen our skills and condition our bodies.
An early-season conditioning program should include flexibility, strength training, and cardio. Light weight training 3 times per week, including 1-2 exercises for each major muscle group, is the way to develop tone and increase strength. Core (torso) training is also important for the balance and stabilization that makes you a consistent ball striker. Exercises that utilize a stability ball and a plank, plus some abdominal work, will improve your core.
It is preferable to get assessed by a physical trainer before starting any active program. The assessment will create a baseline for you, a starting point that is realistic based on your current fitness level. The program should be specific to your needs, concentrating on where you need immediate improvement to keep you from getting hurt, and how to work around any old injuries you might have. From this, you will become stronger, more flexible, and have greater endurance. What’s more, knowing you are physically prepared makes you more relaxed and confident on the course, improving your game even more.
Think about how much money golfers spend on fancy equipment. The real difference in your golf game, though, is made when the focus is placed on you, the operator of the equipment. Think about it: Which has greater value in your performance: a strong healthy back and abdominals, or a great set of clubs? You know the answer, so get working on it.