Golf is a game of strategy, mental toughness and technique. It is a sport completely unique in the fact that a golfer does not have to be in peak physical condition in order to succeed. Over the years we have seen many examples of golfers winning championships that just by a simple look make you say “if he can do it, anybody can do it”. This is true to a large extent. An athletes genetics play only a small roll when it comes to golf compared to other sports. Other sports like this that come to mind are bowling, curling etc. On the opposite end of the spectrum lie sports such as Football, Basketball, or Hockey. In these sports it pays to be naturally fast, tall, or have the natural ability to jump high. Golf’s lack of emphasis on typical “athleticism” and strong emphasis on skill is a big reason why it is so popular, because “anyone can do it”. Whether you are an 8 year old child who is looking for a new sport or 70 year old grandparent who is looking for a new way to enjoy retirement, golf can be easily learned and practiced.
Having said this, it is becoming more and more popular for professional golfers and young aspiring competitive golfers to try to gain a competitive advantage in the way of improving their athleticism. We are constantly bombarded through the Golf Channel, Espn, or PGA tour player social media on how important physical fitness is when it comes to golf. Just listen to just about any interview with Gary Player or Greg Norman, they love to talk about how doing 2,000 sit ups and push ups a day improved their golf careers. Or you could listen to skeptics like Brandel Chamblee, Jonnie Miller, or Lee Trevino who will say time in the gym serves absolutely no purpose when it comes to improving a golf game and is a complete waste of time. Like the answer to many great questions, I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle. A golfers simplest way of shooting lower score is by practicing the skill of playing golf. Specificity is extremely important when it comes to improving a skill and the most specific way to practice golf is by actually playing on the golf course. A slightly less specific way to practice but still very efficient is by using the driving range or practice putting green. If neither of these options are available a golfer should practice by hitting golf balls into a net. If a golfer does not have a net at home they can practice by swinging a club in their living room (least specific way to practice but still better than nothing). Technique is extremely important in golf therefore in all forms of practice technique should be a top priority. So can a golfer accomplish anything to improve his or her game without the golf swing in mind? The answer is yes. A golfer can improve his or her clubhead speed to potentially hit the ball further. That’s it. There is no other attribute a golfer can improve without the golf swing in mind. If anybody tells you different they are wrong. While a golfers clubhead speed is certainly not the only answer to shoot lower scores, it can certainly help. Clubhead speed is a very large influencer on how far the ball travels and when technique remains constant, more clubhead speed is never a bad thing. When a golfer is in the gym and does not have the game in mind the only goal they should have is to generate more clubhead speed. It can also be said individuals may be so imobile that they are not able to get in certain positions to get a technical advantage. Stretches and exercises can be used to improve this, but I don’t consider this to be training. I consider this to be technique practice.