I recently took a break from writing and most work. We had a baby, and plan on moving across the country (again). I’ve had plenty of time to stew over some topics, and will be back better then ever. I semi-retired, cut my client roster down significantly, and will be giving up my business at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. This allows more time to begin the second phase of my career: sharing what I learned over the last 17ish years in the field. So, here goes!

I’ll be referring to golf, but really the idea of “sport specific” training for any sport is a bunch of BS. Here’s my crappy handwriting pyramid:

General: Basic strength exercises, mobility work, balance/stability, general conditioning, power work like med balls and jumping. Most athletes aren’t nearly as strong and mobile as they need to be to even get to proper speed work. On average it takes about 10 years to fully developed as an athlete. While that may be sobering, most people can spend their entire training lives in the general section and improve golf AND health dramatically.

Sport Qualities: While you may be relatively symmetrical, strong, and capable, golf may require more. This is where specific attention is paid to problem areas. I always like to have a “buffer zone” for things, for example you may need X amount of upper back mobility for golf, but I want you to have X+1 to have wiggle room to prevent injury or inaccuracy. Perhaps you spent a ton of time in the weight room getting strong and mobile, but now it’s golf season. Your endurance may be lacking, so we can address that as a specific quality you will need.

Sport: This is golf. Golf is golf specific.

Nearly everyone neglects to spend enough time in the general section. It sounds boring, and sometimes it can be. Most of the junk you see on the internet looks exotic and fun, but it’s junk. My athlete who can single leg squat like a boss and do some heavy pull-ups will crush an athlete doing a jump squat with a BOSU ball overhead and a crappy push-up in between. I’m half joking, but my point is that some athletes win with superior talent IN SPITE of their stupid training. Those with talent and who train properly will almost always win out. If the golf game gets out of hand, I know my athlete will win the wrestling match.

If it looks like golf, run out of the weight room. Trying to do a golf movement with bands or cables may be specific enough to your swing to screw it up. Training SPECIFIC QUALITIES does not mean SWING SPECIFIC. Golf requires anti-rotation and rotation movements. Digging deeper, those movements require proper mobility, stability, strength, power, speed, and the interplay between all of those variables. I’ll also include precision, endurance, and mental toughness. I joke that golf is a lazy man’s biathlon. A biathlon is that sport where you cross country ski then have to drop down and shoot a target. Walking and swinging a club occasionally is the college drinking game version of a real sport. Of course I kid, but if you can’t make fun of yourself what’s the point? My point here is that we need to train all the qualities that golf has in a non-specific way, and let those qualities translate to the range with your swing coach or practice routine. Let golf be the golf specific work, and let the weight room allow you to do those things for a long career. 




  1. Marc,

    Shaun Fulton shared this post with me. As a university professor, fitness enthusiast, and avid golfer your post is of interest to me. Most importantly, there is no research or proof that any fitness program has improved a given golfer’s golf score over time. There are too many variables. Yes, a fitness program may improve swing speed, but this may actually hurt some golfer’s score. An increase in mobility, as defined by Dr. Spina, may improve end-range strength and effective range of motion, but in terms of score, we have no double blind proof. We have logic and anecdotal evidence, but no hard data. To say golf-specific exercise is a crock, may be true, but so might a general exercise program. Your general exercise program might really help one golfer, but hurt another golfer in terms of scoring. Opinion and biased evidence is all we have. Do I believe a general exercise program is of benefit to most golfers? Hell, yes. I think all golfers should maximize their functional fitness and learn to move correctly and efficiently 24/7, have optimal endurance/stability, strength, balance, mobility, speed, and power for life and golf. However, my biggest concern is with elite golfers, like Tiger, Rory, and Jordan. Tiger training like a Navy seal, Rory training like an Irish rugby player, and Jordan training like a gym rat is probably really stupid, with no golf score tracking to back it up. This is the biggest crock in golf fitness, but without research and hard data I can’t know the truth with certainty. The logic I use is that all three golfers became elite without a serious exercise program, then made it to number one in the world and then started exercising like crazy and had scoring problems on the golf course. My educated guess is that exercise is not the problem, but the specific exercise program. To solve this problem, fitness trainers need to do a better job tracking metrics, including tracking scoring average, injuries, and every other conceivable variable. If a player’s scoring average gets worse, one reason could be the exercise program, and if so, smart exercise program modifications should be made in a timely manner. If the player’s scoring average stays the same or improves, there is a higher level of confidence the exercise program is causing no harm and is hopefully helping the golfer. Assuming any exercise program will do no harm and must be helping in some way…is the real crock. Pre and post scoring data is needed to edge closer to the truth!

    1. Hey Jim,

      As an avid golfer you can appreciate i’m at the Masters right now (well, i’ll be there today for opening tee).

      So many variables….perhaps there is a training age where players should start working out, injury history, player weakness (like distance, accuracy, etc), maybe they got putting lessons, we can probably list 50 more. I am also not really referencing elite golfers. I work with one teeing off today. Trust me, I didn’t put him in the Masters, BUT, with a smart program, the goal is he can be healthy enough to play at a high level for a longer period of time, more money earned.

      I am referencing the “experienced” golfer who walks in and says I want golf specific training, but has limited physical capacity. I will say scoring averages went down just about every time WHEN I was working with a golf instructor. Instructor tells me what he needs the golfer to work on so that he can do his swing modifications without a physical limitation. Speaking of another variable, with new mobility, strength,etc, who, if anyone, is teaching that person to use it in a swing. For this population, I would say more things matter then just scoring average. Being pain free, playing for longer, mental confidence, happiness, etc. Just some thoughts!

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