Professional golfers have never been as bad as weekend hackers with their stretching and workout habits. Your probably know the routine: A Big Gulp of coffee on the go to the tournament, then propping a putter behind your arms for a quick stretch.
Away we go, and let’s hope nothing pops.
Still, the pros traditionally dealt with rudimentary ways of physical fitness until a Pied Piper named Tiger Woods showed up on the cover of Men’s Fitness showing off some serious guns in 2007.
The competition noticed and envy kicked in, spawning a new world order of physical fitness on the PGA Tour.
This weekend, during the Arnold Palmer Invitational, just about every golfer will spend some time in one of two 60-foot-long trailers adjacent to the course at Bay Hill.
One is focused on maintenance work; the other on stretching and adjustments. The routines provide the lifeblood that connects players with competitive goals on the course.
“The competition gets harder every year,” said Henrik Stenson, the first-round leader by one shot. “You’re looking for an edge and keep a career going longer. Yeah, you can hit it farther but staying injury-free and recovering quicker is important to your overall well-being.
“It helps on the mental side as well. There are so many positives on the fitness side. It’s just became a natural thing.”
The Massage Envy Player Performance Center has been in play since the summer of 2017. It’s a one-stop shopping deal, with physical therapists, chiropractors and athletic trainers. Like the players, everybody packs up and goes for the ride on the tour stops.
As with everything in life, balance is the key.
Tiger’s overzealous desire to become physically fit took him down some dangerous paths. Just after the 2004 Masters, Woods — joined by ailing father Earl — took a trip to Fort Bragg, where Earl had been stationed with the Green Berets. A couple of years later Tiger was invited by a Navy SEAL team to secretive training facilities in the California desert. He was taught to shoot, clear buildings and even jump from an aircraft.
His body eventually began to break down from all the stress, leading to back and knee problems that have robbed him of much of his competitive drive until recently.
“Some would argue that he trained too hard,” Stenson said. “It’s obviously hard to know whether his swing took too much of a toll on his back and his knees. Was it the training?”
Nobody is shooting at anything in the performance center. Even Tiger, for obvious reasons, has dialed it back considerably.
These days, at 42, Tiger can even get a little bit creaky on the car ride over to the Bay Hill property.
“The guys working on me a little bit to keep me loose and mobile keep me warm because during the car ride over here I get a little tight,” Tiger said earlier this week. “I need to get warm, keep warm, keep moving and be ready to be explosive. So that’s where the guys in the trailer are fantastic.”
Stenson, a few weeks short of 42, has a balanced charge of activities. He lifts weights, but only in moderation.
“If I do another 20 pounds on the bench press, it’s not going to guarantee me another birdie,” he said. “You want to be strong. You want to be fit. You can spend 10 hours doing that, but chances are my striking and putting is going to be iffy if I spend all my time doing that.”
Instead, it’s a balance: Maintenance work two days every week. Come tournament time, stretching and warmups for a minimum of five days and sometimes as many as six.
“When I step on the range, I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’ve done some stretching, some activation. … There’s always a little bit of extra work.”
P.S.: The routine seems to be working quite well considering Stenson’s opening 8-under 64.
Your turn, hackers.