Golf Digestix: Ben Shear Q&A

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Ben Shear is a performance trainer based in Scotch Plains, N.J., who specializes in golf-specific strength and fitness. His clients include PGA Tour pros Jason Day, Luke Donald and Webb Simpson, among others, as well as amateur golfers. He answered five questions from Ryan Herrington.

Ben Shear Golf Digest Golf Digest

Q: Why is being golf fit important? Many successful golfers haven’t been all that athletic.
Golf is a complex sport. To be efficient at it requires a high physical demand. It doesn’t mean you have to be skinny. Don’t confuse that. But you need a range of motion and good stability. You can do those things and be slightly over- weight, but you need those components to be good.

Q: What’s the difference, physically, between tour pros and average players? Most adult men have the strength to play golf at a single-digit handicap level.
But they don’t have the stability and flexibility. Can amateurs do [physcially] what an instructor asks them to do with their swing? Most can’t.
As amateurs talk about lowering their handicap, what role can fitness play? It’s one of the most important things. A lot of people’s handicaps are trapped by their lack of ability to make a technically efficient golf swing. If you’re coming over the top and don’t have a good turn, there are physical things keeping you from being your best. Give yourself the physical skills, even with the same understanding of the swing, and your ability to execute just improved.

Q: I bet you hear “I don’t have time to work out” a lot. How much time do golfers have to commit to?
If they work on the basic mobility stuff 30 minutes, three times a week, they can see real change. Tell me you don’t have that. How many hours are you at your computer surfing the Internet?

Q: Are there exercises all golfers should be doing?
Anything to get your legs stronger. Core work is very important. From a mobility perspective, make sure your hips, upper back and spine are mobile. Those are good places to start.