with Robert Bicknell
Call it kismet, karma, fate or just plain dumb luck, but while walking to my "away" office (Tour les Jour), Big Ben Styles rang me to quack about seeing me walking on the street in a cut off shirt. He made reference to my arms looking like uncooked chicken wings. For the record, my arms are pretty good. It's my legs which look like they belong to a scrawny underfed road runner. Beep Beep.
Anyway, while looking for something to write about, I find that 79-year-old Gary Player will pose nude for ESPN The Magazine.
Yes, you read that right. He's 70-years old and he'll be nude.
There is just something about this which would seem a bit off until you remember that Gary Player is a huge fitness fanatic and, even at this age, does 1000 sit-ups and 1000 push-ups every morning, along with a heavy dose of cardio thrown in.
One of the biggest myths is that weight training is the enemy of golfers. I suspect this rumor was propagated by old fat white guys with a belly hanging over their belt buckle, a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other at a halfway house and proclaiming themselves to be "golfers."
Gary Player puts this myth to rest by claiming he was squatting 325 pounds the night before he won his first US Open in 1965.
Tiger Woods's workout routine also blows holes in this myth as well. In fact, many of the professional players on Tour can be found in the gyms instead of the bars.
However, one of the keys to a proper fitness workout for golf is maintaining flexibility. You can build a little more mass and strength, but you have to add in proper stretching exercises to remain flexible. While many will scoff at the idea, yoga is actually an excellent exercise regimen for golfers. You build strength, balance and flexibility all at the same time.
Of course, you can also use it to throw your opponents off by sitting in their line of putt with your legs behind your head. You might also make them vomit and forfeit the match and the bet.
I have to attest that since hitting the gym 18 months ago, I lost my "Coke" gut (I don't drink alcohol, but Coca Cola will achieve the same result…) and increased my strength considerably. I have mentioned in the past that I hit the ball considerably longer. This is no accident.
While building the upper body is fun and allows you to flex a bit in the mirror after a shower (yes, do it with the door closed or you wife will toss a few acid laced comments at you), this is not the primary area of work out.
For golfers, it's the core muscles that are of primary importance. Yes, the dreaded abdominals which everyone hates to work because it hurts. The good thing is that you don't have to do a billion crunches or sit-ups to work this area properly. You can build a nice little routine with a trainer at the gym involving fitness balls, planks and Pilates. Yeah, you will have to do a few crunches as well, but not a ton of them.
The other areas which you should work on are the legs.
Yes, I am lazy as hell in this area as my exchange with Ben Styles this afternoon demonstrated. However, I can squat a bit more than Gary Player used to do, but I definitely do not give this area the time and effort I should. My wife comments that I am shaped like an ice cream cone.
Legs are always hard to work because they can take a lot of punishment and continue functioning. You can lift far past what you would consider "failure" and still keep going. This is one reason why we as a species have survived the dinosaurs…we can run like hell.
Your workout in this area should try to blend strength and speed.
Lastly, don't forget the cardio! The treadmill, bicycle and elliptical machines are your friends and will help you stay strong to the end of the match.
See your doctor for a check-up, then head to the gym and find a qualified trainer to get you on your way. Your golf will benefit. — VNS