One of the biggest mistakes non-golfers and even casual duffers make about the Royal and Ancient game is assuming you don't have to be in shape to play it. The truth is, golf can be an exhausting affair. You can't be a physical wreck and play golf consistently well; as in any sport, the better your condition, the better your chance of success. Two-time U.S. Open champ Ernie Els uses his Guide to Golf Fitness as both a soapbox to stress the benefits of good conditioning and a virtual gym to present a series of general and golf-specific exercises designed to drop your scores as successfully as a good putting tip.
Els developed his program--geared specifically to address a golfer's strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular system--with David Herman, the fitness trainer who helped Els shed the 15 pounds he credits with the resurgence of his game and better health overall. Though many of the exercises--all of which Els himself demonstrates in photographs--require gym equipment, others don't, and while all provide a workout, the program can be easily adjusted in its difficulty and demands to fit any level of desire and ability. "It's important," Els stresses, "to choose an exercise program that you enjoy," that challenges, but doesn't grind you down. There's enough grinding required on the course already. --Jeff Silverman