New Year’s resolution: Working out is working out for golfer

February 6, 2018 — by Kevin Sze

When Tiger Woods made his professional golf debut in 1996 and won tournaments by 15 strokes, viewers attributed this to an obvious difference between Woods and his competitors: Woods was in top shape while some of his opponents smoked cigars and ate burgers.

Since then, the necessity of staying in shape and developing muscle mass to gain an advantage for golf has heightened. According to PGATour.com, a professional golfer works out for an hour three to four times a week.  

So what does any of this have to do with my New Year’s resolutions?

I am a golfer myself, and my 5-foot-9-inch frame matched with a mere 130 pounds often means I lack the distance off the tee other stronger players have.

Height clearly has no correlation with distance, as professional golfer Rory McIlroy is only 5-foot-8-inches and can consistently hit it over 300 yards. The only that Rory has that I do not is muscle.

So it seemed like the right New Year’s resolution for me to begin working out, under the watchful eye of my trainer, Jessica Bramlett, who I met through a mentor of mine.

We began on Jan. 5 at NorCal Functional Fitness, where Bramlett led me through various workouts that were targeted at strengthening my legs and upper body. After an hour of squats, lunges, arm rows and bench presses, I was ready to keel over in exhaustion.

Although I did not complain much during the workout, I thought I was going to vomit midway through and I swore I saw Jesus calling me to the heavens after I had finished my lunges.

The four days after were an absolute disaster.

My legs were so sore I could not walk properly, and my friends got annoyed as I waddled through the hallways, struggling to keep up with them.

Even worse, my next workout was only a week later, and after the experience I had just had from the first workout, I really did not want to go back.

After some self-contemplation and a couple of Shia LaBeouf “just do it” videos, I finally convinced myself to go. The four-day cycle of soreness would start over again and again for the next few weeks. The workouts were only separated by four to six days of rest which did not seem enough to assuage the pain.

After a couple more sessions, I did not notice any change in my body, except for maybe some extra acne on my face, which, unfortunately, did not help my hit tee shots any further. I began wondering if working out was really the right decision for me and if my New Year’s resolution was truly a good one.

Luckily, my swing coach had access to the coveted new golf technology known as TrackMan, which uses a dual radar to assess various aspects of your golf swing, such as swing speed and distance.

My coach and I had done work previously with it in mid-December, and we made a document with all sorts of numbers that indicated my abilities.

My coach and I figured we should fire up the machine again and determine if working out was actually helping my game.

So in late January, I began to hit balls with the machine and record those numbers.

After a month of working out, my swing speed improved by 3 miles per hour. A seemingly marginal difference, 3 miles per hour equates to an extra 15 yards off the tee, and it improved my game drastically.

In practice rounds with friends, I noticed that hitting the ball farther meant shorter distances into greens, effectively increasing my margin of safety.

But the real test came in a two-day tournament in mid January, which was hosted by the Del Monte and Poppy Hills Golf Courses in Monterey.

The extra 15 yards were a huge help at Del Monte and I was able to tear the course up firing a 71. The score put me in a tie for fourth in a field of 70.

Sadly, I played rather poorly at Poppy Hills, hitting the ball erratically due to a few swing changes and ended the tournament in a tie for thirteenth.

Despite my performance to close the tournament, I realized that hitting it longer off the tee gave me a chance to win after round one, whereas before, if I played well, I was only middle of the pack. The tournament was an encouraging sign that working out was truly helping my game.

Although I still cannot hit it as far as Rory McIlroy and I have yet to win a tournament in 2018, working out has seemed to have boosted my game to the next level.

Seeing improvement in my game has made me more committed to working out, and my New Year’s resolution does not seem so hard to keep now.