Golf is often unfairly stereotyped for middle-aged businessmen, buddy trips, drinking on the course and Floridian retirement communities. Therefore, it may be a surprise to some that fitness and golf go hand in hand.
But in today’s game, they absolutely do. The modern professional golfer trains hard to be at their peak and physical conditioning is part of that.
But has it gone too far?
When Tiger started his career he vowed to treat golf as a sport, not as a hobby. In his early years as a pro, Woods weighed 158 pounds and stood at 6 feet 1 inches. Today he weighs in at 185lbs, acquiring a solid 30lbs of muscle growth. He takes workout inspiration from Navy SEALS, and has often been spotted going for a 7-mile run equipped with combat boots. Talk about commitment.
Tiger isn’t the only pro taking fitness seriously. McIlroy has been hitting the gym and reduced his body-fat composition to 8.5%. The evidence of his washboard abs have been spotted all over social media, and he responded to Tiger this past month by suggesting he, “do a few calf raises.”
Is this excessive?
Many experts think so, including Woods’ former swing coach Butch Harmon, warning McIlroy that getting too bulky can hurt your golf game. Brandel Chamblee thinks that if Rory keeps up this gym routine he’s going to end up with devastating injuries, like Tiger, and threaten his career longevity. Former player Peter Jacobsen even referenced back to a time when golfers, “didn’t lift no weights.”
Contrary to what many experts are saying, at VPAR we believe it’s not too much. In other professional sports, athletes have to be in tip-top physical shape. If anything, they’re glorified for their god-like physique, and for golfers to be considered athletes, it’s time they start acting like them.
It’s not just for performance sake, as high performing athletes are more likely to be slapped across magazine covers and get sponsorship deals targeting a younger demographic. Isn’t that what everyone is saying golf needs?
This idea isn’t new. Years ago, Tiger transcended the traditional golf audience, was a true athlete and made golf cool for people who usually don’t give the sport a second glance. Yes, Tiger may have career shortening injuries, but compare that to the extremely short careers in other sports and it seems trivial. Look what he’s done for the game.
So, why is golf trying to shoot itself in the foot by criticizing those golfers who are doing a great job of promoting the sport?