Kite Increases Distance as a Champion


Tom Kite hasnt broken through to the winners circle this year, but the signs of late have been most encouraging. As the Champions Tour prepares to launch its final major Thursday ' the JELD-WEN Tradition - Kite has three top-10 finishes in his last five tournaments.
Kite has won six times on the Champions Tour over-all since he broke in 2000. Since that inauguration, he has been positively super-human in launching the ball. After hitting it around 260 yards during most of his regular-tour career, he has gained an additional 20 yards as a senior. Kite is averaging nearly 280 (279.9) yards per pop this year.
Now, the 53-year-old can joke about how much extra distance he is getting. Actually, Im just standing. As soon as I hit, I walk backwards, he said to a room full of laughter.
But there is not doubt that he is stronger, both with the golf clubs and in the exercise room. When it was almost time for him to hit the trail for the Champions Tour after 19 wins on the PGA Tour, he embarked on a strenuous exercise program. And he also has dialed in the right settings on his equipment.
In my case, obviously the equipment has a lot to do with it, lightweight drivers and lightweight shafts, Kite said. The Pro V1 golf ball, and everything everybody is using right now. The new technology obviously has a lot to do with the distance that everybody is hitting it.
One of the things that I've been able to do is gain ground on the field, and that's through a pretty nice exercise program that I got on a number of years ago that helped me swing the club a little bit better. So, I'm hitting the ball quite a bit further than I used to.

Monster-long, you might say. He stands 13th on the Champions Tour driving distance statistics. But just dont say it where Kite can hear you.
Monster long, I'm not, he said with a grin. Don't even go there.
And the physical activity is somewhat new to him, though he has always exercised in some form. But new knowledge gained over the last decade has placed exercise squarely in the front of the to-do list.
We were a generation ahead of all the fitness, Kite explained.
When I was growing up, it was considered bad for your golf to exercise. As great a teacher as Harvey Penick was, one of his things was, Let's don't do any exercise program, let's don't get in the gym.
He discouraged me from doing that, but that was the general thought that everybody had back then. They didn't want to build up any muscles because you would lose the flexibility. The flexibility was considered more important than the strength.
Gary Player was considered a - I almost hate to say revolutionary because he was considered almost freakish. Why would you do that? He was way ahead of his time, in going to that extreme to work out, but most people considered that to be foolish for your golf. We see that he's still competing, where people that are younger than he is are struggling to stay healthy. So he was way ahead.
Now, everybody does it. If you don't do it, you really have no chance to compete now because, as Tom (Watson) alluded to back there, Tiger and all these other guys, they are in great shape, and if you're not spending some time in the gym working on your strength, flexibility, and speed, then you're not giving yourself a chance at all.
Kite says he has trained mostly on speed work. He has gained strength, yes, but even more so, he has gained quickness in his movements.
The things that have helped me a lot is training to go faster, he said. A lot of drills that the basketball players use to train their muscles to go very quickly, to train their bodies to go quick; not so much - I mean there is strength in the exercises, but really training yourself to go fast. That's the thing that helped me a lot.
Kite has worked extensively with Todd Wright, who is the strength coach of the mens basketball program at the University of Texas.
He wears me out, Kite said in an interview last year. We get together in the off-season and he absolutely just kicks my rear up one cheek and down the other.
But its a wonderful program that has added muscle, reduced fat and added speed to my body. Its really changed the way that I work out. And a lot of the distance that Ive been able to gain, the credit can be given to Todd and the program that hes developed for me.
So some of it is technology, some of it is blood, sweat and tear and blood and guts in the gym. Those are two things that have made a difference.
Related Links:
  • Tom Kite's Bio
  • JELD-WEN Tradition
  • More Champions Tour Preview Information