We can all agree that golf is not a physical sport. Sometimes mistaken by a game, golf is one of those sports that a big percentage of its success drives from our mental side. 

On both tours, LPGA and PGA, we have the young generations playing an iconic role in golf. They are revolutionizing the game with strength and skill. Players like Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson as well as Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, Nelly & Jessica Korda, Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Muñoz, Pernilla Lindberg…emphasize that despite golf being a mental sport, fitness is key to perform well.

In my opinion, the direct role that fitness plays in golf is not just in terms of length but also mental strength. I train the mind when I work out. And if you have a goal in mind in terms of fitness and/or your body when you go to the gym, you do too. In my opinion, once you made the effort to commit to work out, to pay a gym membership, hire a trainer or sacrifice a morning sleep to exercise before going to work; you might as well push yourself outside of your comfort zone while exercising. When you push yourself to new limits you are not only building muscle, losing fat or increasing in cardiovascular health, but training your mind. I have learned through many years exercising and training with different athletes and physical trainers, that when your body fatigues, your mind can pull you out of that threshold and push harder. 

This is something Tour pros can relate to when playing on tour. It is very rare that you get physically fatigued when you play a round of golf, however you could; specially when you play many tournaments in a row and for many years on tour. But it is more important to stress the role that your mental strength plays for performance versus the role of your physical strength. When your mind fatigues after making the turn, your score starts to deflate. When you play many tournaments in a row, you might experience body tightness and a decrease in swing speed and length, but it is harder to beat a fatigued mind than fatigued body. When you are physically tired, adrenaline helps to boost your energy levels. But when you are mentally fatigued, pressure is not handled the same way. It is harder to control your mind under pressure during competition, and you require a good mental focus to be aware and present. 

I also find it very important to instill the practice of exercising on the younger generation as well to help build a sense of discipline that will be later on transferred onto their sport careers. And this is something I talked through a lot when given the opportunity to work as a mentor and ambassador of the G2 Academy. My main focus is to help young female golfers to have a future in golf and to acquire an emotional intelligence for the sport and the core values needed to be one of the best athletes. Check out some of my recent blogs about my participation on such matter [click here].

But today I don’t want to make it about me. I have stressed enough the importance for fitness in golf. But what you guys might not understand is that I don’t only work out to look good or to hit in longer; but to train my mind to push harder when I am not in my comfort zone. I have taken the time to ask around to some of my player competitors on the LPGA. And these are some of their testimonials:

Why do you exercise? Does exercise relates to mental toughness to you? If so, how ?

Azahara Muñoz, Spain.

Azahara Muñoz, Spain.

-AZAHARA MUÑOZ: “I exercise because it makes me feel really good and healthy. There are days that at the end of my practice, I feel tired and I don’t want to work out. But I push my self to go. When I do, I definitely become tougher mentally. The same goes to when you are doing a really tough and you get through it. It gives me a rush. And I think that’s why I love working out. I don’t do it so much thinking about when I’m on the 14th hole, even though I know it for sure helps me, but because the way it makes me feels and also to prevent injuries. And to be honest to be fit. I really like it and I would workout even if I wasn’t an athlete”

I agree with Aza in so many things, but one thing that resonates with me and I would want to highlight is learning through exercise to feel comfortable outside of your comfort level. When I am at the gym and facing a tough cardio session, my mins sets up a specific threshold that it is always hard to beat. For me the first 15-20 min of the cardio session I feel very unmotivated and tired, but if I push through and I focus hard, I learn I am capable of tirelessly run for long periods of time. After the session, not only I feel energized, happier and better with myself, but I feel mentally strong. 

Sandra Gal, Germany.

Sandra Gal, Germany.

-SANDRA GAL: “I exercise because it increases by mobility and strength in order to have a more efficient swing and most importantly to stay clear of injuries. However, consistent exercise helps me with my confidence also. It comes from having discipline to show up, to push through discomfort and also being in your body versus the mind. So in this way I believe exercising helps me on many different levels to improve my golf”

There are many things to highlight about Sandra’s statement. The word confidence. There are so many benefits that comes from exercise, and there is so much research lately on the amount of mental benefits that comes from exercising. Working out not only makes you mentally stronger, and helps you to train mental endurance that will come in handy when playing many rounds in a row. But it also helps you boost your mood and helps you raise your level of confidence, not only on your body but on your self-esteem.

Maria Jose Uribe, Colombia.

Maria Jose Uribe, Colombia.

- MARIA JOSE URIBE: “ I exercise for injury prevention. As golfer, it costs us a lot of money to get injured and on my 10 years on tour, I never had to miss a tournament due to an injury. So I am very proud of that. When I workout, I focus on overall strength and endurance. Because that is truly what we need when we play for many weeks in a row on tour. I am not a fitness junkie, but I make myself go because I know its going to help my game and make my career longer. On the mental toughness side, working out makes me mentally tougher. It takes discipline to workout, and I developed a lot of disciplined in my career as a golfer because of my drive to push every day to get those hours at the gym. You have to push through it like you have to push through it when you have a bad day at the golf course”.

I love how Maria Jose stresses the importance of pushing through. You have to push though your mental fatigue to accomplish those 45 min cardio session you ought to do. You have to push through and the effort to mentally get yourself out of bed to get your body moving it’s what counts. And the same way with your golf game, you must push through when having a bad day on the golf course. It might not be the same kind of pushing , but that resilience build up will come up handy later on.

What is your take about exercising and mental strength? Do you think it is worth it to instill the importance of exercising and pushing yourself to commit to exercise to develop mental strength and discipline?