RBC Heritage

Fitness big business on PGA Tour, but not for every golfer

sfastenau@islandpacket.comApril 17, 2013 

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Carl Pettersson, a regular in the interview room en route to winning the 2012 RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing by five shots, addressed his lack of a fitness regimen and the time he dropped pounds, to poor results.

Pettersson, Colt Knost and Kevin Stadler made for a weighty top-five in 2012. The defending champion said shape might be overblown.

"Ultimately it's a hand-eye coordination sport," Pettersson said last year. "Just because you don't look like an athlete doesn't mean you're not an athlete. We're not running marathons here, we're just walking 18 holes. Maybe some of these guys are overdoing it."

The issue of whether to commit to fitness is one of personal preference, Randy Myers said.

The director of fitness at Sea Island Golf Learning Center works with more than a dozen PGA Tour professionals, including Davis Love III, Brandt Snedeker, Lucas Glover, Jonathan Byrd and Brian Harman. He thinks if professional golfers want consistency throughout their careers, a fitness plan is a must.

"It all depends on what you want to accomplish," Myers said. "If you want to be a top-five player in the world, you want to be doing something for your fitness to sustain your level of fitness. If you want to keep your (PGA Tour) card or be able to win once a year, you probably don't have to do as much, because they are so good at their talent, their skill set."

Harman and Myers met for a regular session Tuesday at the fitness trailers adjacent to the clubhouse parking lot at the Harbour Town Golf Links. The trailer was full, so Myers put Harman through a brief sequence on the tennis court outside the trailer.

Harman, a former University of Georgia standout and Sea Island resident who turned pro in 2009, has been working with Myers the past four years. The 2005 Players Amateur champion said he has added 15 to 20 yards of distance and 10 pounds of muscle.

"You can't let anyone out-fitness you out here," Harman said. "You've got to work hard and try to keep your body in the best shape. We play so much, your body is constantly trying to break down. You try to keep it up as best you can."

Stadler, 5-foot-10 and 250 pounds, said he has never seriously considered a fitness program. He is the same build as his father, past Masters champion and 13-time PGA Tour winner Craig Stadler, nicknamed "The Walrus."

Kevin Stadler joked that he didn't have the best role model.

"I'm sure it would help," said Stadler, who has earned more than $6 million on the PGA Tour. "But it's to the point now to where, if I need to do something, it's going to be a drastic change. And I just don't know if I'm ready to put a lot in. I'm comfortable where I'm at. I know what I'm going to get out of myself."

Myers said he hears from players at all stages of their career. David Toms sought Myers when he felt he was losing distance and had suffered injuries. Bo Van Pelt revived his career after adding a fitness program, Myers said.

"Generally, their first statement is 'I want to do something, but I don't know what to do,'" Myers said. "It's no different really from recreational golfers to the best players in the world. They don't want to mess up their golf swing ... These guys are consistent to the yard with their clubs, so any change isn't necessarily for performance, it's more about getting in contention and being able to win golf tournaments down the stretch."

Myers said Pettersson has a good swing motion for his body type, and that when the former N.C. State golfer dropped pounds in 2009, he might not have gone about it the correct way.

Ultimately, the issue is personal preference, Myers said. Each of his students have different goals.

But the extra work isn't for everybody.

"My dad lost 40-50 pounds one year, and he couldn't play worth a damn," Stadler said. "Hopefully one day I'll gladly drop 50 pounds for playing like crap a couple months. Hopefully it will happen sometime down the road, but not in the near future."

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