From an early age, Michelle Wie West was known for breaking records – including the incredible feat of outscoring male professional major winners at the tender age of 14.
Wind forward almost two decades, and the 64-time LPGA Tour winner still retains supreme fitness. She chats with RSNG.com about physicality in the sport, how her workouts have evolved and how even in tough times, quitting was never an option…
RSNG With golf now at its most physical levels ever, are we at the point where even amateur players should be exercising regularly to assist their play?
MICHELLE WIE WEST, LPGA GOLFER “It’s individual choice. We should never get to a point where golf has moved away from being fun – people should take from the sport whatever it is they want, at amateur level.
“But I would say that fitness, exercise and strength, as a platform for golf proficiency, is the way forward and accepted.
“The other thing is, if it’s going to help your golf, it’s also going to benefit your quality of life in other areas, isn’t it?
“But yes, for those players who want to improve their game, such as the length they hit the ball off the tee, playing shots that they previously couldn’t make and just an all-round better round of golf, regular workouts are the answer.”
RSNG Are we in danger of people pushing themselves with exercises without really knowing what they’re doing?
MICHELLE WIE WEST “Well you could say the same of any workout. All it takes is a bit of research or an hour with a golf coach or fitness trainer.
“I’ve always sworn by exercising the core as priority, because so much goes through that part of the body. Specifically, it’s the separation between your upper body and the lower half.
“A move called the Rotational Chop [see below] is one of my favorites, because I know it helps me work on the main action that we use most in golf.”
How To Do The Rotational Chop:
Attach the rope and adjust one Tonal arm to the top height, or set a high cable pull on a cable machine.
Start in a wide stance with the trainer to your right side and your weight on your right foot.
Grab the rope with both hands, arms fully extended.
Pull the rope down toward you, driving your elbows into your body.
Shift the weight from your right foot to your left, pivot your hips, and extend your arms just beyond your left foot.
Reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
People talk about variety in exercise regime but I think consistency is just as important
RSNG Tell us about your Tonal Golf workout?
MICHELLE WIE WEST “I love this machine. It uses magnets and electricity to deliver up to 200lbs of resistance. It’s little more than a meter-and-a-half wide and offers a total home workout.
“I am so behind this type of technology because we are all trying to cram so much into our lives.”
RSNG What workouts have stood the test of time for you?
MICHELLE WIE WEST “People talk about variety in exercise regime, but I think consistency is just as important. Over time my prime focus has been on core strength, and that’s something I’ve always come back to. It is the foundation for everything else.
“I also believe in something I call mind-muscle. That is doing all your strength and power exercises but in a way that allows your mind to focus in on the muscles you are looking to train.
“I guess put another way you would say you are perhaps only pushing or pressing 80% of what someone else might be doing, however you are doing it in a way that drives 100% onto those muscles and you know precisely what you are looking to target, and the effect it will have.
“I have lifted bigger weights in the past, but in a way that is forced and irregular. In that instance, what I am ultimately training is other muscles that are supporting a movement that is off balance.
“This has been really important to me in terms of getting back into shape after having my daughter. Less really is more sometimes.”
You go from pushing for the next thing to protecting what you have – that kind of psychology can seep into your game
RSNG You had a huge period of rapid progression onto the pro circuit, breaking records all over the place. How did it feel when you ‘leveled out’?
MICHELLE WIE WEST “When all you know is an upwards trajectory and your game and career is improving all the time, once you seem to stop improving, that’s another battle.
”I had almost no negatives in my golfing life, but the moment injuries come along your mindset changes, and that was a big thing for me. You go from pushing for the next thing to protecting what you have, and that kind of psychology can seep into your game.
“If you’ve never had a setback in your life before, how can you even begin to think about having to deal with it? I had problems with my back, both of my wrists, my knee, hip, neck and ankle. That was a tough period of my life.”
RSNG How did you get through it and come out the other side?
MICHELLE WIE WEST “Well, quitting just wasn’t an option. All I know in my life is golf, having first picked up a club when I was four years old, beating my father at the age of seven and playing a national tournament at 10 – how could it be anything else?!
“Even now I am having time away and getting some cool projects off the ground, but golf is still my life. Along with my family, it is still the thing that gets me up in the morning.
“But yes, I have managed to overcome a lot in my career; and because of that I find it very easy to empathize with so many across all sports who go through similar situations.
“Life can be tough – you have to find the strength to move forward.”
WHAT NEXT? Cable machine workouts are great for golf, targeting the core. Another great bit of kit for this is TRX: try golf mobility coach Trevor ‘TA’ Anderson’s TRX workout.