The American College of Sports Medicine studied the impact of walking a full 18 holes on a golfer's game in May of 2008. The result was a noticeable deterioration in the velocity and accuracy of the swing. The study's authors suggested that improving overall fitness will have greater impact on minimizing fatigue and improving your game than the purchase of expensive clubs. Aerobic fitness, flexibility and strength are all keys to a good workout routine. But for golfers in particular, this mix is key.
Walking is an ideal aerobic exercise for golfers. It builds endurance and helps make walking the course a pleasure rather than a burden. It's also an exercise that's easy to do without needing particular equipment--all you need is a supportive, well-fitted shoe. It also builds bone density, of particular concern to many women golfers. For a more intense workout, swimming provides terrific cardiovascular exercise and is easy on the joints. But it requires access to a pool as well as specialized equipment, and because there's no impact, it doesn't aid in improving or maintaining bone density. If you're already reasonably fit, consider adding jogging or biking. If you have access a gym, look at the cardio classes offered.
The key is to work your heart for about 30 minutes a day four or five days a week. Your target heart rate for ideal conditioning can be computed based on your age to ensure you get the best workout to improve your golf game (see Resources).
You might think stretching is a waste of time, but it's a critical part of your workout routine. Not only does stretching minimize muscle soreness, it also increases your range of motion. And if you're hoping to improve your backswing, flexibility is one way to ensure your clubhead moves further without any more effort. Key areas to stretch include the following: your legs, focusing mainly on your hip flexors and quads, calves and hamstrings; your back, focusing on rotating your spine; and your arms, focusing on your shoulders, trapezius and forearms. A good yoga class addresses many of these in addition to providing a calm, meditative environment. Some gyms also offer massage classes and specialized equipment like foam rollers and balls.
The body's core is key for a golfer. The abdomen and back provide the center support for a good swing. And power comes from your legs and arms. A good strength routine incorporates your whole body. Focus on strength training four times a week, varying the area of focus so that by the end of the week, your whole body has been strengthened, and your weekend game will improve. Sets should be between 10 and 15 repetitions, depending on your abilities. Complete two to three sets, increasing from two to three as you get stronger. For your back, try a seated row, keeping your abdomen in for support and avoiding hunching over. For your abdomen, focus on working both your core and your obliques by doing a set of crunches and either a side-lying plank or a simple oblique curl on the floor. For your arms, do shoulder presses and triceps dips--neither require anything more than a bench and a single set of dumbbells. For your legs, focus on squats, lunges and single leg extensions if you have access to a leg extension machine.