With his dominant win at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka positioned himself as a major open winner and a contender in the discussion as the next great American player to contend with the game’s elite players and Tiger Woods comparisons.
You need to know that Koepka has been a dominant player all of his golf career. He has won on every level, and for many in the know, it was just a matter of time for him to win a major. Now that he has his first major, time will tell if he has the drive or desire to challenge the records of Woods and the immortal greats.
Personally I think it is just too difficult for players to challenge Woods, not because of talent, but because of desire and commitment. With a major title comes a lot of distractions, huge endorsement contracts, obscene appearance fees for international events and showcases – things that definitely take the focus off of getting better, grinding it out on the PGA Tour, creating hunger for championships. How do you motivate when you have 10, 20, 30 million in the bank? Hunger is self-motivated.
Look what has happened to all the great players in the last few years when they win that first major, or in some cases, two majors. It is almost impossible for anyone to keep going on all cylinders; the grind to get that first major is very difficult to maintain after the win. Human nature is to relax, sit back and enjoy the accomplishments.
All this when you are 27 years old.
In my opinion, that’s what made Tiger Woods’ accomplishments so amazing. His desire to win drove him to heights that I just don’t feel are attainable for the great players like Brooks Koepka.
I also wanted to address all this credit to Brooks being an athlete as the reason he won the US Open. I am certain that physical training is truly important to golf, and strength, flexibility and being in shape are crucial to winning on the highest level. But let’s not go overboard here. Golf is a high-motor-skill game that can only be mastered by repetition. Golf coaches and golf fitness gurus should never try to take credit for a player’s success. They are part of the plan, part of the process, but a golfer trying to be an athlete has limitations.
There was a lot made of Brooks getting a lift before his U.S. Open start. Serious weight? Really.
In the picture above, he may have 200 pounds on the bar. That would be considered a rep set for many high school athletes, and was probably part of his normal routine to get his body loose and flexible for his round. No doubt that being in shape, strong and flexible helps with his distance off the tee, but I guarantee, Brooks has always been long since an early age: junior golf, high school, college golf, etc.
I have this fear about getting too strong in the gym. Woods found out the hard way that there is a balance to the gym and golf. When you make your body strong and explosive, it takes a toll on your body, especially the knees and back. Look what happened to Tiger and many others. Do you want play like Tom Watson in your late 60s?
In any explosive movement, something has to take the shock. For professional golfers who swing well over 120 miles per hour with a driver, this shock has shown to wear our parts of the body, especially as the athlete ages. So for the young players who are going to mimic Brooks Koepka, don’t overdo the gym. Be strong, be flexible, work on your core; your distance will come from you core and your legs in the golf swing. Work hard at your skills, have complete control, and maybe someday you can compete in a major.
(Arlen Bento Jr. is an award-winning golf coach, “Top 100” world-recognized golf instructor, Master Golf Teaching Professional® and business owner. He is the former head golf professional at the PGA Country Club in PGA Village, Florida, and the director of golf at Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach, Florida. Arlen has three national golf operation awards in the golf industry, including two Golf Digest magazine Four-Star awards and a Service Ace award from Golf Shop Operations magazine. He offers golf instruction at his indoor golf studio in Stuart, Florida, and at the Champions Golf Club at Summerfield. Arlen is a proponent of skills-based golf learning, physical golf training, single-length golf irons, dynamic club fitting and Stand Up golf instruction. He can be reached at his website www.arlenbentojr.com.)
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