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Teed Off (Nov. 17, 2013)

Update: November, 17/2013 - 17:28

with Robert Bicknell

I just saw an on-line commentary questioning if PGA Tour players were using PED's (Performance Enhancing Drugs). PED and sports seem to go hand in hand, especially at Olympic levels, as some athletes try to gain an advantage over another. When the difference between winning and second-place can be 1/100th of a second, I can understand why some athletes might consider taking a chance of getting caught.

While I understand it, I don't condone it.

The penalties for getting caught using PED's vary from sport to sport, nation to nation and organization to organization.

Some PED's can be detected easily, others cannot. Sometimes they have to test for non-PED drugs which are used to mask the PED. It's really complicated and this is why using them in the first place is not in anyone's best interest.

But, using PED's on the PGA Tour seems a little far-fetched to me because someone bulking up like a maniac on testosterone will be a bit obvious if he was previously skinny and now looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also, being a muscle-bound lunatic isn't conducive to great golf - especially if you lost your flexibility.

Drug use in the PGA Tour would most likely be beta-blockers, which lower your heart rate and keep you calm under pressure. But then again, so will a beer or a shot of Johnnie Walker. The difference is that if you make a mistake with the beta-blockers it will kill you. If you make a mistake with beer or Johnnie Walker, you'll simply look stupid - unless you get behind the wheel of your car and drive - then it could kill you too.

During the last 22 months, I have hit the gym pretty hard and it shows in the distance I get off the tee and with my irons now. It's a lot of work to get this far - considering the condition I was in before that.

When I first started at the gym, I went for a physical check-up and had some blood work done. It turns out that my natural testosterone levels were low. This is normal for men because the levels drop as we get older. So, the doctors gave me a shot in the butt and four hours later, I felt I could jump over the moon and bench-press a Toyota. This is called "Testosterone Replacement Therapy" (TRT) and it's a short time gig - once per month at most. All you want to do is get back to what is considered a normal level for your age and let your body start to produce testosterone naturally again.

To use steroids in such a way to gain massive size and performance, you would have to take 10-times the dosages the doctors gave me - and do it on a daily basis. I cannot imagine the cost nor the pain of the injection because it feels like wet cement going in.

Secondly, steroids simply improve your recovery time and cause your body to retain water - which is why steroid users always look puffed up. When you stop the steroid cycle, you lose 50 per cent or more of what you thought you gained.

More importantly, steroids, when used in the massive doses that body-builders do, increases your cholesterol levels, elevates your blood pressure and can harm your liver. In a nutshell, you may look great, but you're gambling with your life and so it's just not worth it.

The gains I made in the gym are through hard work and a proper diet. These are the two most important factors in improving your body and performance. If you hit the gym, but don't eat right, you will not see improvement. For example, I went from a 36 waist to a 34 waist in six months, simply by exercising regularly and cutting out the junk food.

People might think some PGA Tour players are on the juice because of their vast improvements in distance, but the truth is simply that more players are hitting the gym instead of the bar and ice cream shops.

New technology also helps us hit the ball longer for sure, but the bottom line is that the club doesn't swing itself, so you have to be in better condition.

My advice is for players to get a health check-up, then go hit the gym. — VNS

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