Strength Training: Is It Good For Golfers?

The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s produced a lot of terrific golf instructors: Bob Toski, Paul Runyan, Davis Love, Jr., David Leadbetter, Peter Kostis, Jim McLean and many more. They made a huge contribution to the abilities of professional and amateur golfers. It seemed like all of them were negative on strength training for golfers.

I remember into the nineties hearing something like the following on television, from a noted golf instructor: “Strength training is bad for golfers. It makes them muscle-bound and restricts their ability to swing a club.” If you looked at most of the pros of those years, it’s evident that they heeded this advice. Soft bellies and no real muscle tone were the norm.

An exception was that diminutive guy from South Africa, Gary Player, who marched to his own drummer. He won all of the majors, including the Masters and British Open three times each, and won over 160 times worldwide. He even won a Champions Tour event when he was in his sixties. He was quoted in 2011, in the Wall Street Journal: “People said weight training was detrimental to golfers. I was squatting 325 pounds the night before I won the U.S. Open in 1965. Today the players have traveling gyms.” Arnold Palmer was also fit in his prime, as was Greg Norman, who came along later.

Then came Tiger Woods in 1996. In short order he went from the scrawny kid who could hit the ball a mile to the muscular man who could hit it a mile and a half. He changed the rules of exercise for golfers as well as other elements of golf; a new paradigm.

If you’re a golfer, hit the weights as well as the golf ball. Stronger muscles will increase, not decrease, your ability to generate clubhead speed.

Several years ago the Masters Par Three Contest was televised and Palmer, Player and Nicklaus were playing together. Unfortunately, only one of the three was fit; you know which one.

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