How to Lower Your Golf Handicap by Improving Your Fitness

Golf is a sport enjoyed by millions of people the world over. Individual skill is measured by what is known as a handicap, which is a numerical score summarizing a golfer's playing ability.

Golfers try many different techniques to improve their handicap, from the simple to the strange. Yet fitness is often overlooked. Being in good physical shape can lead to longer drives, more accurate putts, and, most importantly, an improved handicap.


Players who lack physical endurance may find it difficult to maintain their highest level of performance for an entire round of play. If you find yourself struggling to keep up your shot distance, or your technique gradually declines as the round progresses, you will need to improve your stamina.

Walk the course.

Increasing your fitness level may seem time-consuming at first, but you can actually improve your endurance and flexibility while on the course. Many golfers choose to walk between holes instead of using a golf cart. Not only does this allow them to focus between shots, but it also helps improve their endurance at the same time. If you aren't used to this amount of exercise, consider walking only a few holes for each round. As your fitness level increases, you can increase your walking distance.

Stretch before and after you play.

Stretching is one of the most overlooked ways of improving fitness, and provides several distinct benefits. First, it stretches your muscles, increasing flexibility. Secondly, it loosens ligaments and tendons, which decreases your chances of sustaining strains, tears, and other soft tissue injuries. Finally, the act of stretching will help you feel relaxed and comfortable, which can help you focus on your game, rather than on any aches and pains you may experience.


As many professional golfers know, shooting an accurate golf shot requires the smooth and flexible coordination of your entire body. A golfer who is out of shape will have muscles that are unevenly distributed over their body, often resulting in a stiff and jerky swinging motion. Incorporating a fitness program that evenly develops all of your muscle groups will help enable your entire body to easily move in a coordinated way, giving you a steady platform from which to build your swing mechanics.


Even though golf is a sport that requires both knowledge and technique, strength is key in creating enough club head speed to drive the ball down the course. Getting too muscular, however, may instead create a body that is too bulky to swing freely, resulting in a loss of club speed and shot accuracy. When choosing a golf fitness program, only select those that focus on balancing both your overall strength and flexibility.

Golfers around the world pride themselves on their skill level, often going to extreme measures to lower their handicap. Although focusing on body mechanics and golfing knowledge is vital, many overlook the importance of fitness. A golfer who lacks strength, flexibility, and endurance will struggle on the course, no matter how good their training.

Not only is fitness important for overall health, but it is also one of the best ways to improve your golf handicap.

Believe it or not, your level of personal fitness is closely tied to your ability to play good golf.

At first, you may not think of golf as being a game which requires adequate fitness, but upon closer inspection, you'll find many ways in which fitness can help you get the ball in the hole. You may not need to be a world-class athlete to post low scores, but you do want to at least pay attention to your level of fitness, and improve it where possible.

In this article, we are going to talk about the relationship between fitness and golf. Specifically, we are going to talk about how fitness can benefit you on the course, and what kinds of fitness are particularly valuable. As a golfer, you already know that every advantage you can find on the course is one worth taking (as long as you stay within the rules, of course). Many golfers turn to things like golf lessons and new equipment to get better – and those can help – but fitness is often ignored. You may be surprised to find how much improvement could be waiting around the corner if you dedicate yourself to achieving better overall conditioning.

It should go without saying that you need to proceed with caution anytime you work on your personal fitness. Before beginning any kind of new fitness routine, be sure to consult with your doctor. Discuss your fitness plans with your health care professional and make sure that he or she gives you the 'all clear' before you get started. Also, pay close attention to your body while working out, and seek medical attention if anything seems wrong. You can't be too careful with your health, and that is certainly true with regard to fitness and exercise.

On-Course Benefits

On-Course Benefits

During a round of golf, you shouldn't need to sprint down the middle of the fairway, or lift anything really heavy up over your head. So, why do you need to be fit? The demands that golf places on your body are subtle, unlike in other sports. It is easy to see why basketball and football players need to be extremely fit, for example, but the connection for golfers is not so clear.

In this section, we are going to highlight some of the ways in which you can benefit from improving your level of personal physical fitness. The advantages you can enjoy from improved fitness might not be obvious at first, but you'll soon see that they are hiding in plain sight.

  • Power through flexibility. Everyone wants to hit the golf ball farther, and doing so often comes down to flexibility. It usually is not raw muscle and bulk that will let you hit longer drives, as adding muscle mass can prevent you from making a good turn. Rather, it tends to be the flexible golfers who are able to launch the ball hundreds of yards into the distance. If you can improve your overall flexibility – even slightly – you should see a distance gain at some point. Of course, improving flexibility is only going to benefit your game if you have sound swing mechanics to go with it. The combination of a flexible body and a reliable swing can take you a long way in this game.
  • Finish strong. It is hard to see the impact of endurance on the golf course, as most golfers aren't out of breath as they come up the 18th fairway. Just because you don't look like a runner at the end of a marathon, however, doesn't mean you aren't fatigued. Playing an 18-hole round of golf over the course of four or more hours can be draining, especially if you are walking the course. As you get tired, your swing may start to come apart. Specifically, your legs may stop supporting the swing as they should, and your mechanics will deteriorate from there. Also, as you tire, you may find it harder and harder to make good decisions. You may lose your patience and attempt foolish shots as a result. By heading out to the course in good physical condition, you may be able to avoid these outcomes. You'll feel stronger toward the end of the round, and hopefully your level of play will reflect that strength.
  • Deal with the rough. These days, many golf courses don't have much in the way of rough. Public courses tend to cut their rough rather low to encourage a good pace of play, and many private courses do the same. However, you will still find patches of long grass from time to time, and you want to be able to deal with them successfully when that happens. Improved fitness – specifically improved strength in your hands and forearms – can help you tremendously when dealing with long grass. You'll be better able to hold the club face square through the hitting area, and you should be able to carry more speed through the shot as well. You'd still rather be in the fairway, of course, but hitting from the rough does get easier when you pick up strength throughout your upper body.
  • Conquer all types of courses. If you like to walk the course during your rounds of golf, you may find that hilly courses are particularly taxing. After all, walking up and down hills for several hours is a challenge, and it can be hard to prepare yourself for each swing after exerting physically. Of course, if you are in better overall shape, these hills are going to represent less of a problem. It's fun to be able to travel to different golf courses – both in your local area and beyond – and taking solid fitness with you will make it easier to rise to the challenges you find.
  • Manage the conditions. You have to be careful when playing golf in the heat. It's great to get to play a round of golf on a sunny day, of course, but you have to take steps to protect yourself as the temperatures rise. One of the best things you can do is to be in good physical condition to begin with. Most likely, the warm temperatures will take less of a toll on your body when you are in shape. Of course, being fit is not enough, so be sure to stay hydrated properly and seek shade when possible. Wearing some kind of hat for sun protection is usually a smart move, as is providing protection to your skin. By starting with good fitness and then adding smart decisions during the day, you can maximize your enjoyment of warm-weather golf.

Your golf game stands to benefit in a number of ways if you can improve your level of personal fitness. Not only might you be able to lower your scores moving forward, but you may find that you simply have more fun as well. And, of course, that doesn't even say anything about the many potential non-golf benefits of getting yourself in better shape. When you look at the big picture – both related to golf and life off the course – the goal of better personal fitness is an easy sell.

Fitness Keys

Fitness Keys

If you are working on your fitness with the specific purpose of improving your golf game, you'll want to address specific types of fitness improvements. Not everything you can do in the gym is going to benefit your golf game, so it is important to know how to focus your efforts. Of course, you may be trying to get fit for other purposes than just golf, so it will be up to you to balance your plan so that it serves all aspects of your life.

Some of the key areas of fitness to consider as far as golf is concerned are listed below.

  • Flexibility. This is going to be a theme throughout this article. Flexibility is one of the biggest advantages a golfer can have on the course. This is a game that is based on twisting, and that twisting is going to be much easier if you are a flexible individual. If your muscles are stiff and you have a hard time making a good turn back and through the ball, you'll always struggle with your performance. As far as golf is concerned, improving your flexibility just may be the most important part of your fitness initiative.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. You already know that it is important to maintain a healthy weight for off-the-course concerns. This point can help you on the course, as well. When you are overweight, it can be difficult to turn your body in a way that allows for a powerful golf swing. Even if your muscles are relatively flexible, the simple presence of your extra weight is going to inhibit your rotation. By staying in a healthy weight range, you should be better able to turn through the hitting area aggressively, swing after swing. Of course, when you are at a healthy weight, your endurance is likely to be better than if you were overweight. With better endurance, you should hold up nicely at the ends of rounds, meaning your scores will improve.
  • Lean muscle. Building muscle is great for golf, but you don't want to get too bulky. This is a fine line, and you may want to work with a trainer to establish a workout plan that suits your needs properly. If you were to get too bulky with muscle, you may actually run into a similar problem as the golfer who is overweight. With too much body in the way, the free rotation required in the golf swing could be tough to achieve. Just as there are not many overweight golfers in the professional game today, there also aren't many who look like body builders. The average professional golfer is lean and strong, and that build is an appropriate goal for amateurs hoping to improve their play.
  • Being active. Simply put, maintaining an active lifestyle is very likely to help you on the course. It's hard to get up after a week of doing nothing but sitting in your office chair, only to head out on Saturday morning to walk an 18-hole round. Even if you are relatively fit and maintaining a reasonable weight, it can still be tough to shift from being sedentary to being active. If you are able to find little ways within your regular days to be more active, that activity should have you feeling better when you do get a chance to hit the links.

Fitness for golf does not need to be complicated. By working toward the basic objectives above, you will be able to do your golf game great favors. One of the nice things about working on your golf fitness is that you can wind up improving your overall fitness – and maybe even health – along the way. By using golf as your motivating factor, you could wind up putting in work that will benefit you across the board in the rest of your life.