Fitness as the Fifteenth Club

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Fitness has become the legal 15th club in a lot of bags. All kinds of golfers of all kinds of shapes tell me tales of how stretching, lifting, even aerobic work have saved their games at crucial moments.
 
Still, misconceptions about golf fitness persist, and we at Whats In The Bag? set out to erase some of them with this latest show. Here are a few of the important lessons we brought back from the quest.
 
Hold the Judgment; Pass the Acceptance
We worked with top teacher Mike Malaska and his crew at Superstition Mountain, near Phoenix, and found they had a refreshing attitude that should make a lot of people more comfortable with starting a golf fitness program.
 
Bottom line: You are what you are, and thats your starting point. During the first step in any program ' evaluation ' its natural to feel out of shape, to berate oneself, to lament getting older, or to regret a recent Krispy Kreme. Dont do it. Instead, concentrate on the positive. Your hamstrings may feel like crisp bacon, but your balance shows promise. Your psoas muscle (bear with me) may be weak, but your legs are pretty good. Its not good or bad; it just is. Remember what pros say about accepting bogey and moving on? Right. Now begins the work.
 
Not All Lifting is Heavy
That is, work is relative. What seems to be an easy stretch may be enough, and what seems like a light weight may get the job done. The advice of your trainer should control ' and keep you from injury. Theres no need to overdo to get fitness benefits. Patience and a reasonable challenge present the best combination.
 
Which brings us to the psoas muscle. Deep inside your trunk, it has a lot to do with your balance and ability to make an effective turn at the ball. During the taping of this show, we found that mine is weaker than it should be, even though other parts of my body are strong. Instead of diving into a bunch of untargeted, overly difficult exercises that might not have solved the problem, I got advice ' and the simple exercises have started showing benefits. (Its the sitting-on-the-ball foot lifts youll see on the show.)
 
Now, I know you dont give a psoas about any of my muscles ' but the story is an example of how evaluation and good advice can slowly but surely make you a fitter golfer.
 
Not Everything You Know is Wrong ' But Some of It Is
Were taught from childhood that big effort is linked to success. No oomph, no victory. But its not always that way. You may find, for example, that after a month of gentle twisting exercises, youre getting five more yards on your drives with no more effort. Thats your muscles paying you back for the effort. Be prepared to relearn what you know about athletic effort. Golf is a game of fluid strength.
 
The Head Muscle
This is the one that seems to get pulled more than all the others. Yes, physical training is crucial, but dont ignore the mental side. Books on mind mechanics abound, and advice is readily available. But the central concept is simply to pay attention to it. When you begin to understand how your body responds to a positive attitude, and how bad thinking stresses it, youre on your way. Dont feel silly asking your PGA professional how to go about this ' he or she will be glad to help.
 
Fueling Up
The pros know it: What you eat, and when, has a lot to do with how well you hold up during a match. A pro or trainer can help you here too. And before you curl your lip, be advised: This is not about banishing those Krispy Kremes entirely.
 
Thanks for watching. Youre next on the tee.
 
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr