If Randy Myers had his way, spare tires would be banished from golf forever, except in the cart barn. To Myers, who oversees a personal training program specifically designed for golfers, a roll of flab over the beltline is as gauche as old lime-green Sansabelt slacks and butterfly collars.
More than 60 pros from the PGA Tour, Senior PGA tour and LPGA apparently agree. Along with several hundred other, nonprofessional players, they have sweated through individual 30-minute workouts that Myers and his staff of 14 trainers supervise at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Myers, 32, started the program in 1992 when he took over the fitness and personal training center at PGA National. Senior tour regulars Gary Player, 61, and Jim Albus, 56, were the first to sign on with Myers. Player has been a fitness fanatic since he turned professional in 1953—"People used to think he was insane, doing sit-ups and push-ups on intercontinental flights," Myers says—and for years Albus had worked out religiously to overcome recurring back and neck injuries.
"Not only is Randy a talker, but he's also a doer," says Player, who maintains a U.S. base a few blocks from PGA National. "He's in tremendous shape, and he has great ideas. He's always giving me new exercises to do. The latest one is the pretzel, for my back, where you lie on your back with your knees bent and cross your right ankle over your left knee, then switch and cross your left ankle over your right knee."
But you don't have to be a globe-hopping golf pro to receive advice from Myers. For $35 per half hour session, anyone can get a customized program. Individuals go through an initial workup during which Myers or one of his staff measures body fat, endurance and strength. Then he designs a 10-session exercise program to address that person's needs. "If you have extra body fat around the midsection but are generally strong in the arms and legs, we don't need to start with weight training, but with something aerobic to get the heart rate up and make the body a fat-burning machine," explains Myers, who has a master's degree in leisure studies from Penn State and did his graduate thesis on strength training and flexibility for golfers. "If you have a consistent level of body fat over your whole body but not a lot of strength, then we start with more weight training."
Every strength drill is combined with stretching, which according to Myers helps build long, lean muscles—think Tiger Woods, not Craig Stadler. Touring pros perform their personal regimens in the fitness trailers that follow the tours from site to site. Myers also provides a scorecard-sized, illustrated notebook of stretching exercises that can be done using a golf cart—parked, of course—as a brace, to keep limber while you're backed up on the tee.
Myers has encountered skepticism among younger PGA Tour and LPGA players whose skills haven't yet eroded. "I worked with someone else before and overdid it," says LPGA star Michelle McGann, who led the LPGA in driving distance in 1992. "I was too tight and I couldn't get the club back, so I was worried about starting any new strength program."
McGann, who is diabetic, worked with Myers to build her cardiovascular endurance and arm strength. "The best part has been the stretching," she says. "We're always getting in and out of airplanes and cars. It's a way to relieve some of that tightness."
Last fall Lee Trevino went through a rigorous six-week program with Myers to rehabilitate after back surgery. Trevino lost 22 pounds and went from doing 10 repetitions of chest presses with' three-pound barbells to 30 reps with 20-pound weights. "If a guy like Trevino would pay to see a guy like me for six weeks, you know how big fitness has become for pro golfers," says Myers. "He never would have thought about this 10 years ago."
One thing Myers doesn't give is golf advice. He picked up the game five years ago and plays to an 18 handicap. "They definitely don't worry about me changing their swing," Myers jokes. "They wouldn't win much with the one I have."