Kelly Kraft, a native of Denton, Texas, has been a golf professional since 2012, and, just earlier this year, finished second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. By now he must know a lot about his own game and how to keep it in shape and what he needs to do to continually perform at peak level. So it was interesting to ask Kraft whether he uses any sciences such as fitness, nutrition, biomechanics or anatomy to improve his performance, and whether he has a team of professionals to support his game, as so many leading golfers these days do.
“Yes I do have a team that I work with,” Kraft said. “For me, science on golf is mostly just in my workouts.” His fitness trainer Damon Goddard, also Jordan Spieth’s fitness coach, puts together a program based on his body type. If his body is not firing the correct way, they incorporate some exercises to correct that too.
He also said “I’m not super technical, honestly,” and mainly only thinks of getting the ball in the hole. Lots of guys, he feels, make it too complicated. Although, he added, it is sometimes good to think about the analysis of the swing. During the off-season, Kraft said he’s done some 3D analysis with his golf coach, which shows exactly what’s going on in his golf swing. He’s definitely seen some things through the 3D analysis that have led to swing changes.
However, as Kraft says, “It’s not a constant thing out here every week for me to be thinking about the science of my golf swing.”
As regards nutrition, he tries “not to eat too bad” and is also aware of being “a little more healthy on the road, not a cheeseburger every night! Just things my fitness trainer suggests, for more energy the next day.” In addition, he makes sure to snack on the golf course, and eat every few holes. That is obviously a good philosophy that all players don’t adhere to, but should a player’s knowledge of what is going into his or her body be deeper?
What are the goals, and more importantly the dreams and ambitions, of a player on the most famous golf tour of the world? Simply to hope for a win some day? And then perhaps compete for a shot at capturing a major? Are the players’ ambitions matched up with their actions? They have the wherewithal to access the best information in the world, so do they tweak their bodies, minds and swings in a thorough-enough manner? If a player aspires to reach the absolute zenith of the PGA or LPGA Tour, a lot more is required than just the desire to win and some talent. Players these days are diving in deep into every facet of their game, body and psyche to try and uncover every possible advantage over the field.
If it were me, I’d have my own knowledge of fitness and understand how the body can be manipulated to produce greater endurance, more power and speed, more forceful rotation, and then have my own inputs into which exercises were best for my own golf game.
I would also seek special nutrition counseling, because manipulating both the macronutrients and the micronutrients in your body is essential to getting the maximum value out of your performance. It is not just how much carbohydrate intake a golfer has for more energy, but how well the B vitamins are supporting the energy pathways. It is not just about protein being important during recovery, but about how much more energy they require to be digested, which might make the going tough on a hot day.
What about sports psychology? How to keep the mind in the present moment so that anxiety does not tense up the muscles and change not just the tempo of the swing but the muscle-coordination as well. Finally, is the golfer’s body being positioned in the golf swing to reduce the likelihood of injury as well as lessen the deleterious effects of anxiety which every golfer is sure to feel, sooner or later?
Even a golfer who does not wish to be technical (which is only right) must take charge of his or her own game to the extent of seeking out the most knowledgeable collection of experts, and then having a decent understanding of how those experts can piece together the entire product, so as to create for him the maximum opportunity to win each week.
After all, when remodeling one’s home, do the architect, carpenters, masons and plumbers act independently, or does the homeowner wish to know exactly what the end product will be? The PGA TOUR is so highly competitive these days that every little input from science can help give a player an edge over his competition.
Kiran Kanwar is the developer of The Minimalist Golf Swing System -100% scientific, simple and specific. She has BS degrees in physics and math); MS degrees in sports science and nutrition; and is pursuing a PhD in biomechanics. She is a Class A Member: the LPGA, The NGA of India, The PGA of India. Visit her website: www.mgs.golf