Staying in Shape for Golf
How to Take Care of Your Body so Your Putt is at its Most Powerful
By Jackelyn Crawford

Getting better at golf involves more than just putting in your time on the links. According to the health professionals, the time you put in at the gym and the food you put into your body can also have an impact on your game. We spoke to the experts to find out what kind of off-course fitness and diet regime will benefit you most on-course.


Golf doesn't burn as much energy as high-intensity sports like hockey and football, so it isn't necessary to bulk up as much to improve in your game.

"Golf is a slower-paced game, so generally all it takes is a healthy, balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and fruits and vegetables to stay in shape," said Julie Mancuso, Toronto-based holistic and sports nutritionist.

Mancuso recommended building meals with lean proteins like eggs, chicken, turkey and fish and carbs such as oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes and whole grains. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, she suggested eating what's in season to optimize nutritional value.

Eating well and staying fit may even specifically benefit your swing.

"A lot of golfers complain about a bad back when they're swinging, and this could be because they're carrying extra weight in their stomachs, which puts stress on the back and the knees."

Sticking to a healthy diet doesn't stop just because it's tee time (though we will allow you the odd beer on the course). Mancuso said one of the most important things to remember is to stay hydrated during play, with lots of water or a low-sugar energy drink. To keep your blood sugar and energy levels up, munch on snacks like dried fruit, nuts and protein bars. Prior to hitting the links, it's most appropriate to eat a breakfast of champions, rather than simply grabbing a muffin on the go.
"Before going on the course it's important to have a good, balanced breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt and berries or whole grain toast and eggs," Mancuso said.


There are several safe and effective exercises a golfer can do to get A-game ready, said Dr. Sender Deutsch, clinic director and certified golf fitness instructor at SHAPE, a health and fitness training centre in Toronto. SHAPE offers a comprehensive custom golf conditioning program called Golf PARformance.

Body parts to focus on in training for golf include the hips and the spine. Deutsch said the most important aspect of a pre-game warm up is opening up the hips to increase mobility, which can be done with lunge variations.

"Most golfers hips tend to be extremely tight as a result of sitting, but with the golf posture you have a forward rotation of your hips."

Once the hips are loosened up, the best way to strengthen them is with squats, which will also help build your overall strength and power so you can hit the ball further. According to Deutsch, 80 per cent of golfers suffer from lower back pain. To prevent injury, it's important to have stability through the spine, and he said you can achieve this through planks, side planks and blue bridges - which involve lying on your back and raising your hips to form a bridge shape.

To make sure you putt with precision, work on your balance with single leg exercises such as the functional reach - which requires standing on one leg as if you're about to throw a bowling ball. When it comes to cardio, there's no better exercise than running, or, better yet, running uphill to work glutes and hamstrings, which Deutsch said tend to be weak on most golfers and most people in general.

"By running you're simulating walking around a course. If you can run for 45 minutes or an hour you should be able to walk around a golf course."