Are golfers really athletes? Gary Woodland says yes

For years, golfers weren’t viewed as tried and true athletes. As Gary Woodland said on the latest episode of Subpar, the perception of golfers is that they are “little and weak.”

But if you listen to Woodland, one of the longest drivers on Tour with an average driving distance of 307 yards this season, there’s no doubt that golfers are athletes.

“Myself, Rory, Brooks, we all lift weights,” Woodland said. “[Bryson] is jacked, too.”

And Woodland’s not far off. Today’s golfer, even “little” guys like Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and McIlroy all train like elite athletes — hitting the gym, lifting weights, eating right — all in the name of better on-course performance.

When asked if he thought the future of golf was going to be big, strong, fast athletes, Woodland agreed.

“I do,” Woodland said. “Tiger Woods changed that for everybody. Growing up you didn’t lift weights, everybody said that was bad for golf. Now Tiger’s out there looking jacked; he looks like an athlete out there.”

Woodland expanded on this topic saying, “The game’s getting bigger. You look at the guys who are at the top of the leaderboard, they’re all bombers. You need the speed and the power to be able to do that and the game is trending towards that.”

And while the USGA and R&A’s Distance Report would have you believe that equipment is partly to blame for golfers driving the ball longer than ever before, how they’re approaching the sport from a fitness perspective is also having a huge effect.

Having size won’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll hit bombs, but that doesn’t mean approaching the game like an athlete doesn’t have its merits. For example, Thomas and McIlroy will never have the muscle mass of Koepka, and neither will Dustin Johnson because of how their bodies are built. However, all three of those players train in a way that helps them leverage their physical strength into being some of the longest drivers on Tour.

Woodland even admits that, for him, training helps him maintain a healthy lifestyle. He’s not actually looking to bulk up.

“When I train now, I train to stay healthy. I’m not out there trying to get jacked.”

The nice side effect of Woodland’s approach is that in having a healthier lifestyle, he’s able to perform better on the course.

So the next time you question whether lifting weights or approaching your workouts with golf in mind is worth it, remember that the reigning U.S. Open champ sure thinks it is.

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