To Bulk or Not to Bulk

By Golf Fitness MagazineJune 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
If baseball is a game of inches, golf, on the other hand, is a game of millimeters and that might even be stretching it a bit.
Consider the muscles that go into a typical golf swing. There’s the back, the shoulders, the forearms, the biceps, the wrists, the triceps, the hips, the knees, and the neck. To become a scratch golfer, more than 50 muscles and bones have to work in perfect synchronicity. One twitch, one glitch and that Big Bertha doesn’t mean a thing. The ball is headed to a bad place.
So with so many muscles having to work in a perfect balance, why is physical fitness being pursued by so many on the PGA Tour? Why are players trying to change their muscle structure to find 10 more yards off the tee? At Ponte Vedra Beach for The Players in May, the fitness trailer was packed and it wasn’t for the free food. Golfers are trying to find a balance between working out, getting stronger, but still adjusting their newfound muscles to make sure the sweet spot hits the right spot.
How do you find the balance? There are a lot of theories. Some say the key is flexibility and mass muscle has nothing to do with distance or club speed. Others say that, yes, muscle mass can help. Others say the main thing golfers need to do is work on their back and spine and their core strength and forgetting how they look at the beach.
Michael Milhoan is a professional long driving champion and can knock it 400 yards off the tee when he isn’t making movies in Hollywood. He competes in driving competitions all over the country and said that muscle mass might not hurt, but that the back is the important thing for any gym rat who hits the golf course.
“If you don’t take care of your core your back will go out and your game will go away,’’ Milhoan said. “You have to notice that, on the PGA Tour, most of the players aren’t ripped, but most of them are healthy. Muscle doesn’t mean all that much, but it doesn’t hurt if you have the flexibility.’’
Bob Buchanan owns two Gold’s Gyms in West Florida and is a 2-handicap. He was asked if added muscle could affect the trajectory of a golf swing. He thought about it for a few days. He said that muscle mass can definitely be of help.
“Muscle can add a few yards and distance, but flexibility is more important,’’ Buchanan said. “If you muscles are too tight, they are like guitar strings. They can snap and you can get hurt. Yes, muscle is important, and it can really help, but only if you keep your flexibility.’’
Some PGA professionals have thrived from lifting weights. Gary Player is a competitive player on the Champions Tour at the age of 73 and can outwork almost anyone in the PGA fitness center. He lists physical fitness as his hobby and, except for a different shade of hair; he is as fit as he was when he won his eight majors.
Others have struggled with the change in muscle growth. Tiger Woods went through a much-ballyhooed “slump’’ between 2003 and 2004 when he astonished the golf world without winning a major. It was also right around the time he was adding about 30 pounds of pure muscle to his once-slim body. It may have taken some time, but no one is arguing with the success once Tiger’s swing and muscles became one with each other.
Building muscles mass doesn’t always work out for the best. In 1998, David Duval won The Players in his hometown of Ponte Vedra Beach and was the world No. 1 player. In 2001, Duval won the British Open to grab his first major. Duval even had Woods in his rear view mirror. Around that time, the golf world started commenting on Duval’s ripped body, muscles everywhere, and his commitment to the fitness trailer.
Duval looked great. He also dropped to No. 80 on the money earnings list by 2002 and hasn’t been close to the top 150 since. Duval struggled with a back injury, but did the muscle growth have anything to do with the slump?
Larry Yack works as a physical therapist for the PGA Tour and is in the fitness trailer at most events. He said that Duval’s freefall had nothing to do with his growth. It was all about back problems, Yack said, and he said that golfers don’t need to worry about hitting the gym.
“We have guys on this tour like Mike Weir who won a Masters and he weights 140 pounds,’’ Yack said. “Golfers don’t need to be looking for bulk. It’s all about range of motion and if you have range of motion you can still get some strength from that.’’
Experts all say that the back is the most important part of the golf swing, at least when it comes to physical fitness, but Yack said that ignoring the back in favor of muscles mass can be almost dangerous.
“The golf swing is about rotating the spine,’’ Yack said. “If you can’t rotate the spine you can hurt yourself by building your muscles. Just look at the PGA Tour. Ninety percent of the golfers are not bulked at all. Look at Jay Haas, Look at Jonathon Byrd. They can hit the ball and they aren’t overly muscular, but they have the right swing and worry about the things they need to think about instead of looking good on the beach.’’
Yack said he always recommends players who come into the workout trailer to lift light weights with a lot of repetitions. He said flexibility and range of motion are key to the golf swing, especially over a long summer of golf.
“Strength has nothing to do with a golf shot,’’ Yack said. “I’ve seen too many guys hurt themselves by doing the wrong things. The guys who do well know it is all about fitness and not about strength.’’
Milhoan said that muscle mass is a secondary benefit, but it can add to the drive. He also said that it is obvious that, even though he can hit the ball 400 yards nothing matters without a short game.
“Most golfers don’t need to get bulky because it can affect the short game and that is where you play most of your shots. You only hit one shot off the tee, but you still have a few more to go so muscle won’t help all that much except for off the tee,’’ Milhoan said. “If you can incorporate weightlifting with strength and the golf swing, it is a benefit, but it’s hard to do.’’
So can an extra millimeter of muscle on the forearms affect the entire plane of the golf swing?
”Yes it can,’’ Buchanan said. “It can affect it completely, but you don’t have to be muscular to hit a golf ball far. The extra muscle can affect the swing, but it can also help. But if you want to play golf at a scratch level, flexibility is still the most important thing.’’
When it comes to muscle mass, every millimeter matters from the arms to the club to the ball to the trajectory to the landing area.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Golf Fitness Magazine is the only national consumer publication dedicated to golf-specific fitness, mental focus, and improving ability, performance and health among all golfers. Get cutting edge fitness & mental tips sent to your inbox each month with our free golf performance eNewsletter, Shape Your Game.

Getty Images

Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

Getty Images

Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

Getty Images

Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

Getty Images

Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.