Mind & Body

For those who have been following golf over the past 10 to 15 years you would have seen a change in the professional landscape of the sport that has become quite popular, especially since the evolution of the smartphone, social media and the information age.

We never used to associate fitness with golf, but the reality is that since Tiger Woods (I may argue and say Gary Player), the spotlight has been on professional golfers’ physical fitness, their routines and associated benefits of throwing weights around in the gym. The pros drive the ball incredible distances and make golf look very easy indeed, but as a recreational player, surely that kind of training is only meant for those players?

I believe golf fitness has never been more relevant for the recreational golfer. In a lifestyle where time is money and you often have to choose between going to gym, playing a round of golf, or even sneaking in a quick bucket of balls at the practice facility after work, there is an opportunity to “hit two birds with one stone”.

Before I moved into golf performance and professional golf, I spent over six years helping recreational golfers improve their fitness. Some wanted to lose weight, which gave them more energy to play golf, some had an injury which we fixed so they could play golf again, and others couldn’t figure out why they had lost so much distance over the years, and with a structured programme they gained their distance back and then some!

The secret to golf fitness is that there needs to be a connection between your golf and what you do in the gym. Your gym work matters, and the only way to figure out what you need to be doing is to seek help from a professional who understands the physical requirements of golf and the human body.

I always tell my clients, “There’s no such thing as a bad exercise, only bad application of the exercise.” I can validate pretty much any exercise and its application to golf, but whether it is good for you comes down to whether you need it in order to get better.

There are some common tendencies, though, that golf coaches deal with on a daily basis with their clients. One of those is posture. Posture in general, but specifically bad posture over the golf ball, can create havoc with rotation of the body, shoulder flexibility and lower back pain. We can thank our desk jobs, hours in rush hour traffic, “text neck” and TV series binge nights for that.

Thankfully, our bodies are resilient, and intentional stretching a few days a week can improve your posture immensely. Better posture will open up your upper body, give you more rotation, improve your consistency and perhaps even give you those extra yards you need to outdrive your playing partners in your weekly game of golf.

One of the few positives that came out of the Covid pandemic was the need to keep ourselves busy and productive in the hard lockdowns. Many trainers put some fitness videos out on social media and I have added a link to a mobility routine I developed which covers a range of areas of the body – posterior mobility (lower and upper back, glutes and hamstrings), anterior mobility (hip flexors and quads) as well as the rotational mobility (inner thighs, abdominals and lats).


mobility routine

Try the mobility routine three days a week for a month. We would love to hear your feedback on it.

try now!

About the author

Gavin Groves graduated with honours in biokinetics from the University of Pretoria in 2007 after completing his undergraduate degree in human movement sciences. He started at the World of Golf in 2007 as a golf fitness professional, working with beginners, elite amateurs and professionals. A year later, he started at the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and completed all three levels by 2012. He is also an AA-member of the PGA of South Africa. Gavin joined the University of Pretoria's High Performance golf programme in 2013, and in 2018 he moved full time to the DP World Tour, where he has worked with players including Brandon Stone, Andy Sullivan and Darren Fichardt. He also counts numerous past and present Sunshine Tour professionals as clients. In a career spanning over 16 years, Gavin has worked with over 50 South African professionals and continues to grow the fitness aspect of golf internationally and locally. He has been the full-time fitness consultant of the GolfRSA National Squad since 2017 and has worked with some of the best SA amateur golfers, including Jovan Rebula, Aldrich Potgieter and Christo Lamprecht.

About the author

Dr Kirsten van Heerden is one of only a few people in South Africa to have represented her country as an athlete and hold a PhD in sport psychology. She has worked and travelled extensively within high performance sport for more than 15 years. She has published a book on the challenges athletes face when they retire from elite sport called Waking from the Dream and hosts her own podcast called ‘Behind the Dream’ where she talks with some of the world’s best athletes about the ups and downs of being a professional athlete. She is also the founder and chairperson of Girls Only Project – a non-profit company focusing on women in sport issues. She is in private practice at Newton Sports Agency.