Undoubtedly two of the most underrated areas of competitive amateur and professional golf are fitness and nutrition.
I learnt this first hand when attending university on a golf scholarship and settling into a very serious training and eating regime.
Before I started university I had only focused on the playing bit of golf and the latest golf equipment to improve my game. I paid no attention to fitness - I thought I was fit enough having walked 5 miles each day on the golf course.
But oh how wrong I was!
Being golf fit is incredibly important in helping one stay focused under pressure - when it's crunch time and you can't afford to make any mistakes; when it's scorching hot and all you want to do is get back into an air-conditioned clubhouse.
That's when proper fitness training and nutrition pays off.
But how fit do you need to be? What is optimal fitness?
Getting Golf Fit
There is no universally correct answer on this one, however you need to stretch your boundaries initially, get out of your comfort zone and build a healthy training and fitness routine.
There are a number of exercises you can do to achieve optimal fitness. Here are 6 full body exercises I recommend to build strength and stamina.
1. Star jumps - batches of 10 at a time
2. Squats - batches of 10. Try carry additional weight to really feel the effect on your legs
3. Wall sits - start off with duration of 30 seconds with arms flat against the wall and knees at 90 degrees. Increase by 10 seconds every new training session capping it at 3 minutes
4. Lunges - knee to ground lunges over a distance of 25 yards to start. Build from there by adding 10 yards every new session capping it at 100 yards
5. 2.5 mile jogs - make this a regular thing. Run your front or back nine of your home golf course if you have to in order to keep it interesting. And try beating your time each session recording individual times as you go
6. Bleacher Runs - If you do happen to have any open stadium with deep/high enough bleachers close by then do a few spells of running up the bleachers and working yourself hard. Man these are tough!
It's important to note that you shouldn't be training hard the day before or day of a golf event. I believe in working hard, but give your body a couple days to rest before teeing it up in an important tournament. Your body and mind will appreciate it!
Another aspect to optimal performance is nutrition. It is no use training hard if you continue eating poorly.
A healthy balance of proteins and carbs are key when heading into an event. Go easy on fatty foods and sweeter things as they're going to hinder your focus late in your round(s).
During any of your rounds try to periodically snack on high energy foods like protein bars, fruits and nuts.
Most importantly keep hydrated! Being out in the sun all day will dehydrate you so try keeping an energy drink and separate bottle of water handy and sip on each regularly. After each hole if you have to. That'd be an easy way to keep track of it.
If you are a golfer and have previously slacked in the department of optimal fitness and nutrition then now is the time to take the bull by the horns. Work on your fitness, eat correctly and you're going to see a difference in the way your body feels, the way you think on the golf course and ultimately the way you play.
You may well not see results for the first few months either, but keep at it. You WILL appreciate the difference it makes to your game, and life in general.