The Fitness Secrets of Championship Golfers

Proper fitness, nutrition, and mental training can significantly improve your results whether you are a touring professional or weekend hack. If you are serious about getting better at golf and improving your overall health this book may be a step in the right direction for you.

Fitness for GolfIt is no secret to those who follow professional golf that the players have a vast array of resources at their fingertips. All they have to do is ask and they receive the best equipment, swing instruction, psychological training, course management ideas and nutritional information in the world. The average player often does not have these resources at their beck and call.

Susan Hill, the President of Fitness for Golf and widely recognized golf fitness expert, has brought together a team of experts in “The Fitness Secrets of Championship Golfers.”

Until recently golf was not considered a sport that required a high level of physical fitness. There are plenty of examples of players who don’t take fitness seriously but most people agree that fitness is important in competitiveness, consistency, and longevity in the game of golf. If you take care of your body you can expect to maintain a higher level of play for more years. The idea that you can eat however you want, punish your body with impunity, and still play well is beginning to go by the wayside.

Many players are taking fitness and nutrition as seriously as range time. It is no wonder that we are starting to see a direct correlation between physical and mental conditioning and winning. In my opinion, the biggest single reason that Annika Sorenstam continues to win so often is that she takes her physical condition seriously. There isn’t another woman who has the physical stamina to keep up with her… yet.

Susan HillSusan Hill was that catalyst behind this book which is a collection of articles and ideas that, when taken as a whole, present a fairly well rounded approach to important but often neglected aspects of the game. A panel of experts contributed to the writing of this book. Kai Fusser, Jeff Troesch, Susan Hill, Jeff Banaszak, Brian Smith, Jennifer Yockey, and Brian Schiff all contributed to the writing of “The Fitness Secrets Of Championship Golfers” (hereafter referred to as “Fitness Secrets”). The writing team has an impressive resumé.

I identified three general themes as I read this book: Fundamentals, Physical Conditioning, and Mental Training. Here we go!

Jennifer Yockey’s chapter “First Class Fundamentals” covers grip, posture, arm hang, and alignment. There are illustrative photos throughout to help beginners grasp the fundamentals and offer a reminder to experienced players of how to set up to the ball.

A balanced and athletic posture is one of Yockey’s keys to an “efficient, repeatable motion” and pictures are provided to put you in the proper position: Not too much on the heels and too upright, or too much on the toes or too slouched, but balanced.

Yockey Models Proper Set-UpThere is a lot to remember in set-up and Yockey offers a quick and comprehensive snapshot of what is involved. Avid students of the game might end up skimming this chapter as much of it would be review.

Included in the discussion of fundamentals would be Brian Schiff’s chapter called “Posture Perfect: Achieving Better Scores through Proper Alignment and Low Back Strengthening.”

“Most low back pain is mechanical in nature,” says Schiff. “In other words, it is brought on or perpetuated by faulty positioning, poor posture, or common swing flaws. Unfortunately, many beginners never learn how to address the ball properly.” He describes how muscles and spin interact with each other in the swing and gives the best way to achieve power in your swing while staying healthy and injury free. There is a comprehensive section at the end of the chapter which shows proper set-up and excersizes that can improve your set-up.

Yockey discusses ball flight and how swing path determines how the ball will fly: strait, fade, slice, draw, or hook. Illustrations and drills are included to help remedy ball flight problems you encounter. She also provides “Six Ways to Improve your Game Now” which include bunker play, lag putting, chipping, foot-to-ground pressure, no wrists when putting, and lack of clubhead speed. Discussion of each fundamental is good and drills are provided to remedy each problem.

Physical Conditioning
Physical conditioning comprises the bulk of “Fitness Secrets” content and is one of it’s strengths. The first chapter involves a thorough physical assessment. “This screen isolates the critical areas involved with the golf swing including wrist flexibility and strength, lower extremity flexibility and strength, rotational capacity and shoulder turn, trunk strength and balance,” says Jeff Banaszak. The goal of the assessment is to identify areas one can work on and improve in a workout routine.

I did the physical screen and thought it did a good job of isolating areas I could work to improve my game. The end of the chapter encourages one to participate in some level of a golf-specific conditioning program.

Included in physical conditioning is discussion on the importance of balance and a workout routine to improve balance will lead to better ball striking (Chapter 5). Kai Fusser inserts a chapter entitled, “The 3 Principles of Performing an Excersize.”

There is a good chapter describing golf-specific stretching routines. I believe flexibility is a very important aspect of golf fitness as it is in any sport. “A more flexible body leads to a swing with increased power, increased consistency, and more efficiency,” says Brian Smith. He goes on to describe several vital stretches and an on course warm-up routine that one can utilize before hitting the links.

Tiger Woods put flexibility and strength training on the map and we would all do well to develop in these areas. Our stamina and ability would surely increase if we did.

Other chapters on physical training include “Designing a Golf Specific Fitness Program,” “Injury Prevention and Rehab Exercises for Shoulder Pain,” “9 Proven Exercises for Core Power and Stability,” “Velocity Training for Golf,” and “How to Increase your Golfing Power.”

Susan Hill includes a chapter on nutrition which includes a golf nutrition plan. If you are serious about losing some weight, having more energy, and eating a more balanced diet this information is for you. What to eat before, during, and after a round of golf contains some practical and energy filled suggestions.

Mental Training
Several chapters deal with training the mind. I’ll outline a few ideas here.

Jeff Troesch encourages the golfer to think exclusively of the task at hand not allowing doubt or second guessing to creep in to your thought process. “All you have to do is pay greater attention to the quality and types of thoughts, and change them to thoughts that are higher in quality and helpfulness.” So think positive.

According to Troesch great golf minds are present, process-oriented, positive, and patient. Don’t dwell on the past or look to the future, but stay in the moment as you golf. Concern yourself with the process, stay up and positive, and celebrate your victories however small. “Impatience can lead to a number of maladies, including unrealistic expectations, improper course management strategies, increased tension and tempo, lack of shot commitment,” and a host of other problems.

Planning is an important aspect of the game according to Troesch. A pre-shot routine promotes consistency and familiarity and blocks out anger, excitement, and distraction when the pressure is on. He encourages a process of shot selection that includes elements like yardage, wind, and lie.

Not only is the process important but commitment to the process is vital to well executed shots. We must believe in the club we have in hand. Payne Stewart once said, “better to be committed to the wrong choice than uncommitted to the correct one,” and I agree.

Another element in mental toughness I thought was good is the idea that we should act, “‘as if’ all was OK, even if the circumstances around them didn’t dictate this.” This seems in keeping with the cool-headed approach golf requires.

Strengths of “Fitness Secrets”
A wide variety of problems related to golf technique, fitness, and nutrition are discussed so “Fitness Secrets” is a great reference manual.

It is a great jump starter for a fitness routine. If you are the kind of person that needs to be pointed in the right direction this book provides a road map to better physical conditioning.

I was reminded that golf is not just about swinging the club on the correct plane with proper technique, it involves making sure your body is healthy and fit to play the game well. It also made me realize that compensations can exist because of poor conditioning, injury, or poor technique. These must be addressed for the golfer to be an effective ball striker.

Weaknesses of “Fitness Secrets”
The biggest bummer about the book is that its an e-book. You must downloaded it as a PDF and either read on the computer or get it into book form at your local print shop. 212 pages requires a hefty printing bill on top of the cost of the book. I had it printed because there is no way I can read a book on my computer. Surf the web, yes. Read a 212 page book, no. For “Fitness Secrets” to be more cost effective, it needs to be in book form so that we can order it off of Amazon or from Susan Hill’s website. $47 plus printing costs is a little steep.

“Fitness Secrets” meanders and lacks focus for two reasons. First, there are several authors with different approaches to writing and secondly, it covers such a wide range of topics that the big picture gets lost amidst the details. I believe the book could have been laid out in a more thoughtful and progressive way. For instance, there could be three major sections: Fundamentals, Physical Conditioning, and Mental Training. Hey, just like my review!

No matter how much detail someone provides golf is about hitting a little white ball toward and into a cup and this will be more detail than some can handle. Because of the technical nature of much of the book it would be easy to get lost in the details.

My honest take on this book is that it is good, but not worth the $47 they want you to drop on it. It has some helpful ideas relating to fitness, mechanics, and mental toughness but much of it you could find from better sources. To me “The Fitness Secrets of Championship Golfers” is more of an echo than a voice. While it is a good reference on a wide range of topics, many have been saying the same things for a long time so I found much of “Fitness Secrets” to be review.

Having said that, you might find this e-book to be right down your ally if you’re looking for a rudimentary introduction to golf and golf fitness and are willing to drop $47 on it. The ideas presented in “Fitness Secrets” could make the difference between golfing well into your retirement years or having to hang up your sticks early because you didn’t take care of your body.

Photo Credit: © Fitness for Golf.

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