Tiger Woods didn’t just change the game of golf on the course, he changed it off the course too. Before Tiger, golfers weren’t known for hitting the gym. Sure, there were golfers that paid attention to general physical fitness – Gary Player being a prime example – but in general the terms golfer and athlete did not go together. In fact, before Jack Nicklaus was nicknamed “The Bear”, he was uncharitably known as “Fat Jack”.
Tiger’s commitment to working out, and his chiselled physique, changed all that. And today’s PGA Tour pros are following his example.
Here are five of the fittest golfers currently playing on the PGA Tour:
- Dustin Johnson
Any discussion of the best athletes on the PGA Tour has to begin with Johnson. The
6ft 4 inch, sweet-swinging World No. 3 is known for his seemingly effortless power
off the tee. But while that power may appear to come easy when he is playing,
Johnson has put in plenty of work in the gym to develop it.
“My training and nutrition plan has really evolved over the years,” Johnson told Men’s
Journal. “It’s so important for me to take care of myself mentally and physically.
Working out and eating right helps me feel better and play better on the course.”
One of Johnson’s trainers told Golf Digest a few years ago that in addition to
powerlifting, Johnson regularly works on his swing sequence and explosiveness by
using a medicine ball to mimic his swing, whipping the ball through the impact zone.
Johnson exercises up to six days a week and says if he had to choose one workout,
it would be a leg workout. “Probably my least favorite to do, but definitely the most
beneficial for golf,” he says.
2. Bryson DeChambeau
Love him or hate him, no player has created more buzz around golf over the last 12
to 18 months than Bryson DeChambeau. Like Tiger before him, DeChambeau has
reimagined and revolutionized what training can do for a golfer on the course. The
story of how he gained 20 pounds of muscle in 2020 while the Tour shut down during
the Covid-19 pandemic is well known.
For DeChambeau, the benefits extend beyond the golf course too. I used to wake up
every single morning feeling terrible because my abs weren't working properly, and
my back would hurt because it was overcompensating for them,” he told Men’s Health magazine. “So once I started training the body proportionally, it really showed me a new life.”
DeChambeau focuses in particular on strengthening his core. Somewhat unusually,
he also believes in isolating each muscle and training it individually rather than doing
compound movements, as most trainers recommend. He told Men’s Health that he
out every evening and doesn’t take a day off. He claims a good’s night sleep is all
the recovery his body needs.
Bryson DeChambeau’s workout video – https://www.pgatour.com/video/2020/12/29/bryson-dechambeau–in-the-gym.html
3. Rory McIlroy
Look at photos of a younger McIlroy and it’s clear there was a time when he did not
take training in the gym seriously. Look at pictures of him today and it’s clear those
days are long gone. His lean and muscular physique are testament to the hard work,
time, and dedication he has put in to transform his body.
In a 2015 video on YouTube, McIlroy says, “I had a little bit of understanding and
knowledge but not as much as I probably should have. I wasn’t big into the gym or
going in. Couldn’t stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds and I couldn’t hold the
plank for more than 30 seconds.”
Like DeChambeau, McIlroy also focuses on his core, as well as his lower body. His
training sessions generally involve squats, deadlifts, and bench presses
While only 5ft 10 inches tall, McIlroy has been one of the longest hitters on tour for
many years, averaging well over 300 yards. “I am strong enough to control the golf
club through my swing and that’s basically what I need to do,” he says.
4. Brooks Koepka
At 6 ft tall and weighing 186 pounds, four-time major champion Brooks Koepka has
always cut an imposing figure on the golf course. Koepka used to share a trainer
with Johnson and the two have worked out together in the past.
Koepka isn’t shy of working out before a round, even in a Major Championship. Most
notably during the U.S. Open in 2017, Koepka hit the gym in the morning before his
final round for a “big lift”. He went on to win the tournament to claim his first Major,
tying the record low score in relation to par at 16-under.
Like Johnson, Koepka likes to train up to six days a week. He hits all the
recommended boxes to keep his body strong and flexible, while also developing
stamina and endurance. Koepka does cardio for conditioning, strength, and power
training for clubhead speed while also making sure his body doesn’t get tight with
stretching and mobility work.
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In 2019, Koepka was even featured in ESPN the Magazine’s Body issue.
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5. Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth may seem like an unlikely choice for this list, but Spieth is dedicated to
keeping his body in shape for the rigours of the golf season.
When Spieth is not playing, he trains five days a week. His trainer told Men’s Journal
that Spieth does “two heavy volume lift days, followed by speed moves. We’re
working on improving his force/velocity curve, so we incorporate functional lifts with
movement patterns the other three days to make sure we maintain his
mobility/pliability in all planes of motion.”
Like the others, Spieth also focuses on his lower body and core because that is
where a golfer can generate the most power. Spieth can hit almost 400 pounds with
his deadlifts. He also uses kettlebells for explosiveness.
Following his second place finish at the British Open this year, Spieth revealed in a
post on the Under Armor website that this was the best he has ever felt this late in
“I’m a training nerd – I don’t look like The Rock but I’m a training nerd for golf
specific exercises. I just love doing it,” Spieth says.
Photo – Golf Digest/Under Armour/Brooks Koepka/Bryson DeChambeau/Stack/Golf Channel