Justin Thomas’ 2017 PGA Tour season has been remarkable to say the least. The 24-year-old Louisville, Kentucky native took home four first-place trophies, including the PGA Championship. He set multiple records along the way and became the 2017 FedEx Cup champion and PGA Player of the Year.
Not bad for only his third season on tour.
We had the chance to catch up with Thomas at the 2017 Bridgestone Classic at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio to check in on how he stays healthy and strong during the PGA Tour season. Here’s what he had to share:
The PGA Tour is grueling
“I think that people don’t understand how much that golf and the season wears on your body,” he says. And it’s true. There’s a good chunk of people who consider golfing a leisure sport. A game they can play into their older ages because it’s gentle on the body.
While this may apply to recreational golf, this isn’t the case for the pros. A golfer who swings explosively like Thomas puts high amounts of stress on their body each and every swing. If something in their body isn’t working correctly, it can throw the entire swing out of whack and lead to injury.
For Thomas, his primary concern is his ankles. “My ankles are a little bit stiff and don’t have a lot of mobility. When those get tight, then my calves get tight, and it goes up through my legs and into my hips,” he explains. “When my hips get tight, then my back gets tight, and that’s when I start getting injuries and my golf swing changes.”
To make matters worse, PGA Tour golfers have a crazy travel schedule. Have you ever flown across the country and felt the after-effects for days? Well, it’s far worse for golfers who are traveling the world on a daily basis.
Thomas recalled a time last year when he was home he played in tournaments in California, Malaysia and China in consecutive weeks.
“Just over the course of a season, it’s really, really draining and [wears] on your body, and that’s where the fitness and the off-course stuff is so important,” he adds.
The work Thomas does off the course is critical to his success
“The off-course stuff is just as important as the on-course stuff in terms of golf and making sure our body feels good,” he says. “It’s a long season. Guys will play anywhere from 20 to 33 or 34 events in a season.”
Thomas spent the last year getting stronger with the help of golf performance specialist Kolby Tullier at the Joey D Golf Sports Training Center in Jupiter, Florida—Dustin Johnson trains here as well.
He explains that he focused on build explosive power and core work. Here are some snippets of Thomas’ workouts from Instagram:
Thomas places a huge emphasis on mobility and flexibility
“I have a physio I’m seeing before and after every round,” Thomas says. “I’m getting stretched before and getting deep tissue massages and stretches after…30-40 minutes to make sure that everything is still OK and I’m going to be waking up the next morning feeling fresh again.”
Thomas is an advocate for the Massage Envy Total Body Stretch program that’s available in the Player Performance Center, a traveling fitness center housed in two large trailers that PGA Tour players can use to work out and tend to their bodies during tournaments.
Total Body Stretch is a system of assisted stretches that are designed to increase mobility, flexibility and performance. The stretches are administered by a certified Massage Envy practitioner, which makes it possible for deeper and more effective stretches than what you can do on your own. The practitioner is able to identify tight sports, customize the stretch program to address these issues and coach you through the stretches to maximize the benefit.
A Total Body Stretch session—it’s also available to the public—is a similar overall experience to getting a massage, but you’re getting stretched for the duration of the session.
Thomas has two important tips for junior athletes
No.1: Add some stretching to your daily routine. Even though it might not be the most enjoyable thing, stretching for 10-15 minutes a day can positively affect your golf game and health. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it.
No. 2: Work on your short game. “It’s the most important part of golf. And it’s the biggest difference [from] college to amateur, amateur to professional and now the PGA Tour,” he says. “You have to be a good chipper and putter to play out here. I stress that to every junior golfer that they need to work on their short game.”