Golfers are embracing physical training to refine their game
Trevor Anderson calls it a “lightbulb” moment for Jordan Spieth.
Anderson, a performance trainer with 27 years of experience, was guiding the three-time major winner through a series of exercises for a photo shoot in 2014 when he saw something click.
The pair used a TRX “rip trainer” – a resistance cord and weighted bar designed to mimic the action of a Golf to balance.
“He said, ‘Oh, I love how it feels,'” Anderson recalled. “There are photos and footage from that photoshoot and you can see him in that great position.”
Anderson has been coaching amateur and professional golfers since 2004, and in that time has seen how physical conditioning can help refine a player’s game — even if it means tweaking a big winner’s swing with a unique tip.
“For elite players, it’s always about that little nugget, that little feeling, that little thing that they’re able to put together,” Anderson said. CNN Sports.
“When you start being able to harness the athleticism you already have and use it to your advantage on the golf course…you get consistent results.”
Anderson coaches athletes in a range of disciplines, including football, baseball and general fitness, but it’s in golf where he’s seen the biggest mindset shift toward conditioning.
On today’s PGA Tour, the majority of players are lean, muscular and athletic – equally at home in the gym as they are on the golf course.
“I think I’ve learned to love it (the gym),” world number 7 Rory McIlroy said in an interview with Mag Trainer. “You start out and you hate it, you’re like, ‘Do I have to do this?’ But once you start seeing results and you start getting stronger…I think that’s where the fun comes from.
The same attitude can be found in women’s football. LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson told CNN in 2017 that she’s “addicted” to training, which she says has created “dramatic changes in my golf swing distance.”
Anderson, who calls himself a “complete nerd” when it comes to the biomechanics of the golf swing, has watched firsthand how fitness has become a crucial part of the modern game.
“Twenty years ago, a meat trainer like me trying to talk about the golf swing was taboo,” he says, adding that fitness was previously considered “no big deal – a guy could have a dad body or a little belly.”
Today, however, he finds himself working closely with golfers to improve the physical aspects of their games: stability, mobility, coordination, speed and explosiveness.
“The golf swing is one of the most violent athletic movements in the world of sports…stay put and move as fast as you can,” says Anderson.
Rather than helping players get stronger, Anderson emphasizes durability and withstanding the rigors of swinging a golf club over and over again.
To do this, he uses exercises like TRX – a suspension training tool that uses your body weight to build core strength, balance and stability – squat and lunge routines, a series of planks, deadlift reps and sets of sprints and jumps.
Anderson also considers a varied athletic course to be an advantage for golfers.
He cites the likes of 2019 US Open champion and former college basketball player Gary Woodland, two-time major winner Dustin Johnson — “he could dive a basketball right now,” Anderson says — and the winner of the 2017 Masters and passionate footballer Sergio Garcia.
“What I’ve found is that competitors on the golf course have a competitive advantage if they’re playing team sports or individual sports that require all of those aspects of athleticism, speed, agility, reaction”, continued Anderson.
“Different types of pressure situations that you encounter in sport in general… It’s the vein that runs through all of these sports all over the world and from a competitive point of view you can really exploit them on the field of golf.”
The relationship between golf and physical training is not a phenomenon unique to the last two or three decades. Gary Player, a nine-time major winner who still trains regularly well into his 80s, has often touted the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
But it’s Tiger Woods who is often credited with revolutionizing the sport’s attitude towards the gym.
Aged 24, Woods said his daily routine would include a four-mile run, weightlifting practice, several hours of hitting balls and practice, another four-mile run and then an evening playing basketball or tennis if he wanted to.
“The work he did is what made him a great player,” Anderson said.
“Now when you look today, a lot of young, athletic, very good players that are there, Tiger was their idol.
“When they wanted to know what it was like, what it takes to be successful on the golf course, they looked at someone like Tiger; you have to be fast, you have to be athletic, you have to be powerful, you have to be balanced. And they embraced that mentality.
DECHAMBEAU’S “SCIENTIFIC APPROACH”
One of the most striking approaches to fitness in the game of golf today was Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion and former world No. 1 who racked up 40 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic .
It was an approach that reaped rewards when the tournaments returned, with DeChambeau recording four top-10 finishes in June and July 2020.
“It’s a little emotional for me because I did something a little different; I changed my body, I changed my mindset in the game, and I was able to get a win while playing a completely different style of golf,” he told reporters. after winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic that year.
But Anderson doesn’t think DeChambeau’s plan – which involved building muscle to drive the ball great distances – will change golf going forward. He says the window of opportunity offered by the pandemic makes DeChambeau an “anomaly”.
“What really helped him do that is he has that airplane momentum,” Anderson adds.
“All his irons are the same length and all that kind of stuff. He has a very cerebral analytical and scientific approach that he takes to the game. He can keep everything in the same plane and just go down with more power and speed.
DeChambeau is currently out of the PGA Tour after undergoing surgery for a broken left hand.
That means he will miss the upcoming PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., where new Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, world No. 2 Jon Rahm and four-time major winner McIlroy will be among the favorites.
As for Spieth, with whom Anderson has worked on several occasions through a joint sponsor, the American could join an elite circle by achieving a career grand slam at the PGA Championship.
He will no doubt be hoping for another moment of enlightenment as he tries to win his first major title in five years.
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