BIG Makes a Difference

By admin December 30, 2014 00:57

BIG Makes a Difference

Written by Ried Holien

Tiger Woods Curls 10 Lbs. Using Just His Pinky.

Muscle Means Winning on the PGA & LPGA Tours.

“Dude, did you see the massive arms on Tiger?” That seemed to be the most repeated question in the golf kingdom in 2007. Indeed, this year the Wooded-one sported the most pumped-up pipes since Schwarzenegger retired as action movie hero to become Governor. Tiger’s physique showed off even more with form-fitting shirts tailored by Nike to show every bulging bicep. On Sunday of every major championship of 2007, golf fans watched to see if: a) Tiger would win, and, b) his muscles would split his shirt to shreds with the effort. About the time he won the PGA Championship, Tiger appeared on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine under the caption: “How he got BIG.” BIG in all capitals got it right. The guy is huge, and other pros are quickly becoming the same way.

Most Important Golf Equipment Ever Made
From his first days on tour, Tiger exercised more than any other player, and he proudly proclaimed the benefits of weight training. Focused on breaking Jack’s record of 18 major championships, Tiger realized the most important piece of equipment he’d ever have would be his own body. He fine-tuned it with more effort than any club manufacturer ever put into designing a titanium driver. He elevated the status of professional golfer into a professional athlete.
After a few years, other golfers followed suit. While many had employed some modest exercise to maintain their bodies, few hit the gym to buff up. The first golfer to pump up the weight room—after Tiger that is—was Annika Sorenstam. Her record proves the benefits of the bench press. Beginning in 2000, Annika began a heavy exercise and weightlifting regiment and that, more than anything else, lifted her from being a pretty good player to a force of domination.
In her first seven seasons on tour, Sorenstam won 23 tournaments including two majors. That’s respectable. In the five years after hitting the gym, she won 46 times with eight majors. That’s incredible. She credited her success to increased distance and control, both, she claimed, earned through hours of working out.
Given their records, it’s understandable how Sorenstam and Woods inspired legions of imitators. Pretty much every professional player, from senior star to teenage wannabee, started an exercise program. The PGA Tour’s fitness trailer—a Gold’s Gym on wheels that drives to every tour stop—quickly became the most popular place to be. Fully 1/3 of that tour—some estimates place that closer to 50%—use it on a weekly basis. Many more use their own equipment, and nearly all employ personal trainers. Some even pay to have them fly in for tournaments. On today’s tour, just as many guys employ exercise advisors as they do swing coaches and sports psychologists.
The exercise mania even trickled down to amateurs. Now, every amateur knows that some sort of physical exertion off the golf course can lower scores on it. Browse book shelves and DVD racks and you’ll see almost as many weight-training and flexibility guides as you will manuals on swing mechanics and mental improvement.

Fitness Was Considered O.B. & B.O.
Seems like everyone now agrees with Tom Watson who said: “All things being equal, the stronger I get the better golfer I will be.” It wasn’t always like this, however. For over 500 years, golfers considered dumbbells and jogging tracks just like bunkers and O.B. stakes (and B.O.); they were to be avoided if one wanted to succeed on the golf course. Popular perception considered golf the game of a gentleman not a sweaty gym rat. For these players, golf WAS their exercise. (To be fair, they did walk the course, so it was healthy.) Most considered muscles unnecessary, if not downright detrimental.
Like campers sitting around a bonfire sharing scary stories, golfers repeated cautionary tales of players who bulked up only to see their games fall apart. After his year of winning 11 tournaments in a row, Byron Nelson finally earned enough money to fulfill his lifelong dream of buying a ranch. Nelson devoted an entire off-season to building a fence so he could keep cattle. When tournaments began the following year, he unhappily realized he’d lost his touch. Months spent hammering nails and hauling logs enlarged the muscles in his hands, arms and chest. The golf club felt foreign in his fingers. Being Byron Nelson, he did get it back and win multiple times, but he never approached that amazing level of play again.
In the summer of 1977, Johnny Miller completed some heavy work around his home. He returned to tour with 20-pounds of added muscle. The bulk altered his swing plane, throwing off the unrivaled touch he possessed with his irons. He never regained prominence. It “killed my game,” Miller later wrote.
These tales created the pervasive PGA attitude against working out that Brad Faxon encountered in his rookie year on tour in 1983. At one of his first tournaments, Faxon visited the fitness trailer for a brief workout. Later that night, he happened to be flying on the same plane as established players Chi Chi Rodriquez and John Mahaffey. Faxon remembers Chi Chi saying: “I saw you going in that trailer today. If you want a nice long career, stay out of there.”
tigerbunkerStories like what happened to Miller and Nelson inspired more fear in professional golfers than did the island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. To lose your entire career because of muscle? Best, they agreed, to not even take the chance.

Advent of Golf Specific Exercise
Still, some pros stuck with exercise. They reasoned—correctly, we now know—that people who diminished their golfing ability by increasing muscle mass did so because their exercises were not golf specific. Gripping a hammer and nail, for instance, worked different hand muscles than caressing a clubhead, so of course it would cause problems.
So some professionals tailored golf-specific exercises to improve their games. Gary Player blazed this trail. He realized he could not keep up with Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer—both of whom were naturally bigger and stronger than he was—unless he improved his body. He also understood he needed longer tee shots to compete on certain courses, like Augusta National, that demanded great distance. So, every morning, Player did 1,000 sit-ups and 1,000 push-ups. He lifted weights and could squat more than twice his body weight. One of only five men to win the career grand slam, exercise definitely helped the little guy make good.
Other pros later followed Player’s example. Two notables were Tom Kite and Greg Norman. Kite resembled Player physically and also realized the need for more distance to compete effectively. Norman worked out in part to help his injury-prone back and also because being fit fueled his active lifestyle.
Both men released exercise guides in the early 1990s, and they described workouts that are laughable by today’s standards. The books showed these two curling 10-pound dumbbells. Annika lifts three or four times that amount, and don’t even bother to compare that with what Tiger uses. He curls 10-pounds using just his pinky finger. While Kite and Norman deserve credit for advancing the cause, they also nonetheless illustrate the then widespread belief that big muscles were anathema to a good swing.
Only two voices cried out in that wilderness, and those belonged to Bill Glasson and Keith Clearwater. Both were multiple winners on the PGA Tour who got into muscle development in the late-80s, early-90s. Clearwater packed on 22 pounds of muscle. Glasson sculpted his body into a fair semblance of Michelangelo’s David.
Then problems ensued. Clearwater’s swing got shorter, and his earnings plummeted. His game got so bad he lost his PGA playing privileges in 1995. Glasson’s swing also became more compact, but his power actually increased. He, however, suffered from injuries requiring 19 separate surgeries. From a ripped tendon in his forearm to a back so bad that, he said, not only, “could I not play, I could not stand.”
Outsiders blamed weightlifting for both men’s troubles, but that’s an accusation both steadfastly deny. Clearwater said his problem was that he had “the worst attitude on Tour” and that he needed to “get away from the game.” He wants to be remembered as “the forerunner who proves that golfers can really benefit by muscle development” and indicates Tiger Woods’ as proof he was right all along.
Glasson emphatically believes that exercise prolonged his career, not shortened it. The muscles, he believes, helped him return from injury faster and develop a short, powerful swing that prevented further damage. If Glasson had to do it again, he says he would actually lift even more weights. “As long as you remain flexible, you can’t get too big or bulky,” he states.

Gary Player Has The Last Laugh
It appears that nearly every professional golfer now agrees with Glasson. They may not want to copy Jack La Lanne, but they understand that larger pectorals present no more an impediment to a smooth swing than do flabby man-breasts. Proving this attitude shift, Gary Player says “perhaps the biggest change [he’s seen on tour throughout his career] was that in my 50s I had to go and find a local YMCA to work out. And everyone ridiculed me. Today, we have a fitness trailer following the tour and the same guys who used to laugh at me are in there working out like crazy.”
In today’s golf world, distance reigns supreme. All professionals want to hit it farther and straighter, and muscles make that possible. Short-knocker Justin Leonard packed on 15-pounds of muscle and says, “There’s no doubt strength training has made me a better player.”

The Benefits of Golf Exercise
Regular Joes may agree with professional golfers building their bodies yet still not think it applies to them. How can an amateur golfer—with a family and a 9-to-5 job—find time to both exercise and golf? When they get free time, they want to golf, not run on a treadmill while thinking about golf.
Besides, isn’t golf exercise? Well, yes and no. You do swing a stick and move around, but unless you walk, the health benefits are minimal. Not that that’s a big deal. There’s more than exercise to love about golf. Golfers have always appreciated the challenge, camaraderie and competition just as much as having, in the words of Mark Twain, “a good walk spoiled.”
Or, as Tommy Bolt said: “The biggest liar in the world is the golfer who claims that he plays the game merely for the exercise.”
Since golf may not be exercise, amateurs should work out off the course to lower their blood pressure and their golf scores. Muscles certainly equate into more distance, but recent studies now reveal weightlifting helps the short game too. Weightlifting trains the brain, nerves and muscles to work together. This improves fine motor skills, which translates directly into improved chipping and putting.
Because nearly everyone already knows some level of physical activity is better than none, this article will not digress into some public service announcement on behalf of the Personal Trainers of America. Just know that all the muscles in the world won’t help without flexibility.
Picture muscles as a Lamborghini Diablo—a great car with incredible power. Now, imagine flexibility as the keys to start that Lamborghini. You cannot access the first without the second. It’s a simple rule of auto mechanics…er, rather swing mechanics.
Tiger stretches for nearly an hour before every workout, unleashing his inner-Lamborghini.

Tiger looked so big last year that some openly wondered if he was—keeping with the car analogy—buying upgrades off the sales lot. Interviewed on the Today Show, Matt Lauer talked with awe about Tiger’s new physique. Around the same time, Gary Player claimed to have proof that several pros took steroids. While Player refused to list names, many were guessing who the pros could be.
Most PGA Tour players laughed off the steroid accusations (the ones who weren’t trying to lynch Player, that is), because they know that golf is more about conquering mental demons than overcoming physical troubles.
Tiger hates such unfounded accusations that he could be among the list of players that uses steroids. He’s gone on record that he absolutely supports drug testing on the PGA Tour. Asked when the PGA Tour might begin drug testing, Woods responded, “I don’t know when we could get that implemented. Tomorrow would be fine with me.”
Woods insists his amazing new bulk results from family DNA. He says that men in his family grow into their bodies in their late 20s, early 30s, and that’s all that happened to him. Still, he has only himself to blame. He brought the allegations on himself because, come on, “Did you see the massive pipes on him?”
Because golf will always be just as much a mental and philosophical game as it is a physical one, there will always be room for people who ignore their bodies. Even on today’s health-conscious tour, many round-bellies find ways to compete with the flat-bellies.

Fat-Bellies Still Impressive
Mark Calcavecchia and Tim Herron both enjoyed excellent years in 2007, and their weightlifting were pretty much limited to 12-ounce beer cans. Unlike Tiger’s deltoid-designed shirt, both men wear clothes that could appear in maternity stores.
Yet golf fans love them both because they excel and because they accept who they are with good humor. “I subscribe to the John Daly theory,” says Herron. “You can pull a muscle, but you can’t pull fat.”
The PGA Tour wants drug testing on all players, but Calcavecchia jokes: “How about random testing for working out?” Calc congratulates flat-bellies like Camilo Villegas (widely considered the buffest man on tour next to Woods), but suggests they strap two or three bowling balls onto Villegas so the 50-pound weight differential between the two could be evened. “Have him play golf with my body,” Mark jokes. “Let’s see how he does.” They add weight to try to even out the field in horseracing, why not golf?
With golf, that may just happen. Not with bowling balls, but Villegas may discover Doritos or Rocky Road ice cream and pack on the pounds. He may even score better afterwards. David Duval said he regretted losing the paunch around his belly, believing the lost weight translated into less distance. Since he said that before his career tanked, it holds even more merit. In golf, success is about the individual, and what works for one person may not be best for another.
Still, all else being equal, get to the gym!

By admin December 30, 2014 00:57