There are two ways to golf: The hardcore, "counts as your gym time" way and the laid-back, "spend hours on the green without breaking a sweat" way. “Ultimately, you just have to decide whether you’re willing to be serious about getting a good workout while you play,” says Mike Smaltz, director of operations and training at Platoon Fitness, who heads up Platoon Golf 360, the gym’s golf-specific fitness program. “It can be done simply without sacrificing a good time, and it will help you play better, which is always fun.”
And Smaltz should know. Platoon’s program focuses on both your golf game — they bring in a golf pro to counsel you on swing mechanics, stance, grip, and posture—as well as your fitness level. “I can’t guarantee anybody that I can lower their scores — I’m not the golf pro,” says Smaltz. “What I can do is eliminate the physical ailments that are holding back progress.” In the long run, getting in shape will increase strength, flexibility, and condition your heart, three things that will help you accomplish more on the green.
Check out Smaltz’s top tips for turning your golf game into a workout below.
Leave the cart at the clubhouse. “On an average course, a person walks between three to eight miles a round, especially assuming they’re not hitting every ball right down the middle,” says Smaltz. “Add that to the fact that you’re going up and down hills, and you have quite a cardio workout.” And don’t think you have to lug your clubs either, says Smaltz, who rationalizes that getting a caddy or pulling a handheld cart are still superior to a total cart cop-out.
Drink … a lot. No, not your favorite lager. Water. “I can’t stress drinking water enough,” says Smaltz. “It’s by far the easiest way to improve your health while playing. Proper hydration will keep you more focused, increase your energy, and help your muscles fight against fatigue.” To satisfy your thirst, aim for at least the recommended eight, eight-ounce glasses of H20 a day, and when you’re on the course you should be drinking between 16 to 20 ounces of agua per hour.
Utilize downtime. “This seems so simple to me, but when I tell clients to start exercising between shots or after holes, they seemed shocked,” says Smaltz. To start out, Smaltz recommends adding simple routines every three, six, or nine holes. Try doing a few toe touches, pelvic tilts, squats, and torso and hip rotations. It will get your blood flowing, your muscles loose — and probably help that handicap.
Time your rounds. Not only will making a conscious effort to speed up your rounds please the group behind you, but it will get your heart rate up and torch calories. Smaltz suggests carrying a stopwatch with you on the course and recording your progress from the first tee to the last green. “When you add up your final score, write down how long it took you to play right next to it. People are surprised by how playing quicker correlates to better scores. And you’ll be getting a much better workout with three-hour rounds than you ever did in four-and-a-half.”