As two-time major champion John Daly shot a career-worst round of 90 at the Tampa Bay Championships last week, you could be forgiven for recollecting some of his finer moments as a professional.

In many ways, the steady decline of Daly embodies the changes that have taken place in the sport over the last decade, as an emphasis on health, fitness and nutrition has emerged as a major preoccupation for younger players and aspiring amateurs.

The evolution of golf has also occurred at a time when American citizens are becoming increasingly motivated by healthy living, in a bid to tackle obesity and resolve the nation’s leading health concern.

The benefits of improved health and fitness for golfers

In contrast with the talented and enigmatic Daly, the prototype modern golfer has a far more balanced and evolved training regime. More specifically, they work on developing physical fitness and stamina in addition to furthering fundamental skills such as driving, putting and their natural swing.

So not only do today’s breed of professionals spend hours perfecting their swing and optimising their balance when striking the ball, for example, but they also strive to work core muscle groups and develop more advanced levels of stamina, strength and conditioning.

Perhaps the primary benefit of becoming a fitter golfer lies in the capacity to compete in a diverse array of conditions.

When you consider the diversification of the sport and its newly-achieved prevalence in sun-drenched nations such as Qatar, South Africa and Asia, it is crucial that players are able to maintain their performance and fluidity of
movement in hot and humid conditions.

In addition to this, improved strength and conditioning may also improve the mechanics of a professional golfer’s game, from the action of their swing to the distance that they are able to cover when driving from the tee.

The impact of hydration and diet

Modern golfers, whether they are aspiring amateurs or established professionals, also have a far greater awareness of diet and how it impacts on physical performance.

In a trend that is prevalent throughout contemporary society, they also understand the established fact that a healthy and balanced diet can improve mental focus during competition.

When you consider the lucrative nature of a golfing career and the fine lines that exist between success and failure, an optimised mental performance can prove crucial in distinguishing great players from merely good ones.

It was recently announced that the net sale of soda continues to fall nationwide throughout the U.S. and Canada, for example, as people look for a healthier and more nutritious alternative.

Even so-called ‘sports drinks’ are being treated with caution, due to their high sugar content and the use of artificial ingredients. So although these beverages remain prominent at golf courses throughout the world, the majority of players prefer to rehydrate with water during competition.

Many have even discovered the dietary benefits of ionised water, which serves as an incredibly effective rehydration fluid and boasts far more nutrients and antioxidants than bottled products.

While John Daly may have once embodied the work hard, play mantra of golfing, his decline marks a transition into a new and exciting era for the sport.

Even older players such as Lee Westwood have strived to lose weight and develop a more dedicated approach to maintaining their fitness, as they look to compete with a hungry new breed of professionals who are committing to enhancing their physical and mental performance.

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US Open Golf