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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Rigorous Training

The current wisdom among top golfers seems to be that a rigorous physical training program is necessary to compete.  Gary Player comes to mind as the best known old-school player who adopted this approach with much success.  Most golfers were not historically viewed as athletes; or at least as highly conditioned athletes.  However, Tiger Woods seems to have made physical training fashionable, if not actually mandatory.

Rory McIlroy has become a workout fiend.  Jason Day, I recently heard on Golfchannel--so it must be true--does two workouts a day in the gym.  Forget beating balls; these guys are pumping iron.  Now, call me old-fashioned, but I'm not exactly certain that this is the way to go.  It certainly doesn't seem to have helped Tiger.  I think he was better as a scrawny kid than when he pumped himself up.  But then, who am I?

Today, experts abound.  They gravitate to the tour like flies to you-know-what.  Golfers today have teams of experts around them to help them be the best they can be--and help them spend their money.  And it's got to be a great gig if you can get it.  But is it necessarily the way to go?  Will these finely-tuned athletes, like Day and McIlroy, be playing when they're fifty?

In the old days, the way to build golf muscle was to play lots of golf and perhaps swing a heavy club.  It seemed to work pretty well.  Now, if you aren't in the gym before breakfast, you are apparently in danger of falling behind.

As always, I like to refer to my authority on golf for the answer to the question of whether rigorous training is the way to go.  That authority is, of course, Bobby Jones.  When dealing with the subject of tournament preparation in his book Bobby Jones on Golf, Bobby had this to say:

  "The most important part of preparing for a tournament is to condition oneself mentally and physically so that it will be possible to get the most out of what game one possesses.  Rigorous physical training is neither necessary nor beneficial.  A physical condition that is too fine usually puts the nerves on edge.  What one needs most is to play golf, to harden the golfing muscles, and to get the feel of the little shots around the green."

Man, would I ever like to send this quote to Rory.  That is not to say Rory isn't going to have a great year.  I actually expect him to play well.  But I sure wish he'd pump less iron, and just get his short game in order.  In the end, it always comes down to the putter.