For Cameron Smith, a winner of six PGA Tour titles and three on the DP World Tour, he has been working hard at his body since his teenage years when Golf Queensland stressed the importance of fitness in elite golf.
In 2020 and 2021, when he was unable to return to Australia due to COVID-19 border restrictions, Smith decided to give the gym everything he had towards the end of the pandemic. It paid off in 2022, with a lean, mean Smith winning the first event of the year, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which earned him a maiden stint in the world’s top-10 ranked golfers. He then went on to win the Players Championship and Open Championship at St Andrews. He’d later add a LIV victory and an Australian PGA title in Brisbane once he was able to return Down Under at the end of 2022. He traces all of it back to the 2021 offseason in the gym.
“It was actually out of boredom, I guess,” Smith said at the end of 2022. “I didn’t really have much to do other than go fishing and drink beers with the boys. It was something that I just wanted to do. I just wanted to see how far I could push myself and what I could really do. I didn’t really expect it to come together so quick, but I’m happy it did. I really want to keep pushing myself and really want to keep making myself a better golfer. I’ve been a pro for [almost 10] years now and I think it takes a lot longer than everyone thinks to get that blueprint right. I think we’ve got it pretty close.”
In February, Smith opened up on Mark Howard’s “The Howie Games” podcast about his workouts in the offseason and during a golf season:
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What’s the typical workout for Cam Smith?
“I probably try and get in four lifts a week in the offseason. It’s pretty heavy stuff, trying to put on some muscle. And then during the season it’s more about maintenance. You don’t really want to stress the body out while you’re trying to play. There’s probably more cardio through the season, trying to prepare to get through those 72 holes in a breeze. But as soon as we put down the sticks
for a little bit over Christmas, it’s all about trying to put on some muscle.
Just basically trying to be faster and stronger for next year.”
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What type of lifting makes you faster and stronger on the golf course?
“I do two leg sessions [and] two upper bodies a week. It’s pretty basic stuff, to be honest. It’s squats and deadlifts – the same stuff I’ve been doing forever – bench press and pull-ups. There are a few golf-specific moves in there, but a lot of core work at the end of every session.
“When the offseason hits, it’s all about trying to move as much weight as we can as many times as we can. Throughout the season, we will see that weight come down and the reps come down and then the velocity start to come up. That’s where we get our speed from. It’s not necessarily changing the movement as such; it’s just varying weights and varying speed.”
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Pull-ups or chin-ups – how many in a set are we trying to do there? How many reps?
“Chin-ups are probably my worst exercise, especially over the Christmas break… I think I had a little bit too much Christmas pudding and a few too many beers. It’s hard to pull the big rig up at the moment! But I’m trying to do three sets of 10 reps without any weight or any assistance. As I get to the third set, I usually need a band or something to help me out those last few reps.”
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Do you hate leg day?
“I actually really enjoy leg day. I hate chest and back. That’s my day that I dread. I think for me when I do my legs, especially when I’m practising at the same time, I feel like I have a really stable base after
I do that. Whereas when I do upper body, I feel really rounded and really tight and I don’t feel like I can really swing the club as well. So I’m probably different to 98 per cent of the population.”
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How much are you squatting? Is the bar bending? What’s on there?
“No, when we’re trying to put on my muscle, it’s a few more reps in a little bit slower pace… I’m a golfer, not a rugby player, so I’m doing 10 reps, three sets of probably 80 to 90 kilos and just trying to move quite slow.”