Why this PGA Tour-bound pro transformed his diet and fitness regimen

If you don’t yet know the name Kevin Dougherty, chances are you’ll get familiar sometime in the next year, because the 32-year-old is headed to the PGA Tour with full status for the first time in 2024.

As one of the longest players on the Korn Ferry Tour off the tee, Dougherty is looking to make a big impact once he arrives on scene at the Big Show. But another way that he’s already prepared for the grind of PGA Tour life is his commitment to health and fitness.

On this week’s episode of Subpar, Dougherty explained to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz how he transformed his approach to eating and fitness more than a decade ago.

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While Dougherty was still in college, he started suffering lower back pain on his left side. An MRI revealed what was essentially a stress fracture in his back. At that point, Dougherty said he made radical changes to his eating and fitness in an attempt to avoid future injury.

“It got to a point where I was only eating like, a very, very limited style of food. Very repetitive,” Dougherty said. He decided to reach out to Encinitas, California-based nutritionist Robert Yang for guidance.

“His philosophy is very simple,” Dougherty said of Yang. “Pretty much protein, fat and fiber. So, protein in the form of animal. Every animal I will eat, best quality. So, grass-fed Finnish cows, pasture-raised chicken, wild fish, y’all kind of get the point. And then, fruits, vegetables. And then, all the carbs I eat are kind of around my workout. White rice, sweet potatoes. It’s all as clean as possible. Organic, local farms. I have some here in Dallas I’ll pick up. And it’s been incredible. As the years have gone on, I’ve just fine-tuned it a little bit. I’d say that last two to three years, I’ve only stayed in Airbnbs so I can cook my own food so I can kinda control everything that goes into it.

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“I won’t eat anything that’s cooked in vegetable oil, or canola oil or anything like that,” Dougherty continued. “Bacon fat, grass-fed butter, beef tallow, or kind of low heat, I’ll use olive oil. So that’s kind of the premise of how I eat.”

“Just like us,” Stoltz quipped.

Knost then asked Dougherty what a typical on-course snack looks like for him. The answer: leftovers! Dougherty said he likes to use ground beef or ground bison on the road, along with sweet potatoes and a roasted vegetable in a Tupperware container.

“I just figure, over the course of the year, I’m gonna feel better, so if I just put a little extra money towards what I’m gonna eat, even if it just helps me think that it’s making me play better, it’s gonna help me,” Dougherty said. “So it’s kinda just something I was willing to accept.”

For more from Dougherty, including what it was like to finally earn his PGA Tour card, check out the full episode below.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.