As a golf pro for the past 17 years, Craig Renshaw was always searching for ways to improve his game. So when he heard about a yoga class designed specifically for golfers, he decided to give it a shot.
So when he heard about a yoga class designed specifically for golfers, he decided to give it a shot.
After a few classes he started noticing his drive had improved and he was better able to focus on the green. Soon he was taking classes three times a week and recommending the program to all his clients.
“It’s helped my flexibility,” says the Scottsdale resident. “Mentally, it’s allowed me to work on my focus and my attention on the golf course. It’s helped out immensely.”
Renshaw is one of a growing number of golfers turning to the ancient practice of yoga to get an edge in their golf game.
Ten years ago, Katherine Roberts founded the Scottsdale-based Yoga for Golfers program. It has grown into a popular training technique for thousands of professional and amateur golfers. Today her program is offered across the United States and in six foreign countries. Roberts is also a regular contributor on The Golf Channel and has produced a Yoga for Golfers book and nine fitness DVDs.
The Yoga for Golfers routines are created from a selection of classic yoga poses that are most suited for the golfer’s needs. In her classes, Roberts teaches students how and why each pose directly benefits their golf game.
“You have to be flexible to play the game of golf; yoga is focused on core strength and flexibility,” she says.
In addition to improved flexibility, yoga helps golfers strengthen the muscles in their spine area, shoulders, hips and legs, Roberts says. It also helps golfers avoid injuries and have the endurance to play longer.
But most importantly, she says, the yoga methods train golfers in proper breathing
techniques that relieve tension and allow them to focus on their swing.
“Golf is an incredibly mental game. One of the biggest obstacles to swinging the club is to relieve the tension in your body,” Roberts says. “Yoga is intended to quiet the mind.”
Roberts had played golf recreationally since she was 15, and found yoga helped improve her handicap. She developed a passion for yoga and 10 years ago quit her corporate job to become a yoga instructor. Shortly thereafter, she started tailoring her yoga program to golfers.
By focusing her yoga program specifically on golfers, it helped lure men to an exercise program. In a traditional yoga class, typically about 20 percent of the students are male. Roberts’ classes attract about 80 percent men.
“That was my initial intention, to reach out to a demographic of people who would normally not walk into a yoga class,” Roberts says.
After taking the classes, clients see a 20 percent to 40 percent increase in their range of motion, Roberts says, which typically translates into points shaved off their scores.
But besides golf benefits, she says clients who take the golf yoga classes find their quality of life has also improved.
“Every once in awhile I’ll hear from someone who has taken the class and says 'I’m playing better,’ ” Roberts says. “When they tell me about their golf benefits, I think that’s great. When they tell me about how it’s benefited them off the course — that’s what’s really cool.”
On the Web
Information on the yoga for golfers program is at www.krtotalfitness.com