(Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the March, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)
Try telling a golfer who just finished walking 18 holes at a lengthy course featuring significant elevation changes in warm temperatures that golf is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. They might have a different opinion.
Golf is not as physically brutal as football or as athletically demanding as basketball, but the physical component is very real and too often overlooked. That’s especially true at a course such as Augusta National, site of next month’s Masters, with players having to climb and navigate steep hills throughout their round.
Strength and conditioning specialist Trevor Anderson believes a stronger focus on endurance and stamina can make all the difference for pros facing the daunting 18th tee shot at Augusta – or amateurs who want to step it up a notch in their weekly game.
It’s essential to focus on strength and conditioning as they relate to golf to reap the benefits.
“A lot of people think they know that endurance is important, but the type of endurance they try to engage in a lot of the times is distance running,” said Anderson, who owns the Better Every Day Performance Institute in Orlando. “The reality of distance running is that’s not the kind of endurance that we need on the golf course. We need power endurance. We need to be able to move very quickly through range of motion with great change in direction and great stability in the finish, then do that repeatedly.”
Most golfers looking to shoot lower scores focus on their swing, and that’s an essential component. Anderson’s focus is on the body, making sure it’s in peak shape and trained to do the things a proper swing requires with consistency over 18 holes. If the legs begin to give way on the back nine, so too will the swing.
“If you want to get better at golf, you need to get better at golf-specific things,” Anderson said. “We want to prepare our body not only to play from the first tee box to the 18th with the same energy level, but what about those four and five hours you want to go out there and practice?
“Do you have the endurance – the power endurance – to be able to start from the beginning of your practice session and have the same quality swing at the end of your practice session? Can you have longer, more quality hours of practice? Your physical conditioning should support your practice sessions. When you get out on the course, that should be the easiest thing you do.”
THE BOX STEP
“You have to not only have the strength, but the endurance,” Anderson said. “It’s all good on the front nine, but the back nine will beat you down if your body is not prepared for that endurance. Things start coming up short. We try to put together practical exercises, like the step-up on boxes, that really help you understand how to not only use your quads but really get your hips, hamstrings and glutes involved.”
STEP 1: Set a sturdy box or individual stackable platforms down at a height between 12-18 inches.
STEP 2: Place your right foot on the box and step up while remaining in full control. You should feel as though you’re pulling yourself up through your right hip and right hamstring. Beginners should practice this until comfortable before adding another step.
STEP 3: While standing on the box, raise your left knee and step down with your left leg, remaining in full control and landing softly.
STEP 4: Rest and repeat, rotating legs.
MEDICINE BALL FRONT SQUAT
“The reason why we hold the ball here is because posture is so important in the game of golf, especially as the round wears on and as the week wears on. You get more and more tired and a little closer to the ground all the time. … This drill will help you maintain a really nice posture with that spine throughout the shoulders. … It’s a position of great stability from the bottom all the way to the top, and it’s really going to help you maintain that posture when it comes to playing those long rounds.”
STEP 1: Hold an 8- to 10-pound medicine ball with both hands and arms underneath, close to the chest and just below the chin.
STEP 2: Spread your feet out slightly wider than shoulder width, about the same as a driver stance, with toes slightly pointed out. This allows you to involve the hips.
STEP 3: Squat down between the knees, not over them, keeping your heels flat and the ball high and just below the chin.
STEP 4: Once you’re as low as you can go, pause at the bottom before standing to return to the original position.