Can Fat People Play Golf?

The short answer is yes. I think by any measure I would be considered fat. For most of the past 30 years my weight has been around 250-280 lbs (18-20 stone) and I’m around 5’11” in height. Since the early 2000s, my handicap has hovered between five and six so I’m proof that it is possible to play (decent) golf whilst being overweight.

Would losing weight have meant I played better? Well on occasion I have lost a significant amount of weight and always found my golf game tended to suffer. Perhaps if I had maintained that weight for longer and allowed my golf swing to adapt to it then my game may have improved but unfortunately, I always put the weight back on.

“The best exercise for golfers is golfing”

Bobby Jones
can fat people play golf

Can Fat People Play Professional Golf?

Although there is an increasing trend for physical fitness amongst tour professionals and those aspiring to become one, there is still scope for those with larger waistlines to make a living.

In the modern game, you could look at players like Shane Lowry who although not quite as overweight as myself is almost certainly above the recommended BMI.

Andrew “Beef” Johnston is another current professional whose figure closely resembles my own.

The Stadlers, Craig and his son Kevin are both quite overweight although that didn’t stop Craig from winning majors!

Of course, the greatest player of them all Jack Nicklaus had the nickname “Ohio fats” although to be fair he never looked all that overweight to me.

Here are a few professional golfers that had larger waistlines:

  • Angel Cabrera
  • Darren Clarke
  • John Daly
  • Carl Pettersson
  • Mark Calcavecchia
  • Colin Montgomerie
  • Tim Herron

For some people, a sport requires the participants to work up a sweat. For that reason, they wouldn’t consider golf a sport or golfers athletes. In that sense, golf does allow a wide range of body types and levels of fitness to be competitive even at elite levels.

Modern tour players are always looking for that extra edge over their competition. Fitness is one area that golfers traditionally ignored but the current crop of stars tend to spend quite a lot of time on fitness and nutrition.

Does Bodyweight Affect The Golf Swing?

I think it goes without saying that someone who is overweight is likely to:

  • lack flexibility 
  • struggle with a lack of stamina 

To quote the National Strength and Conditioning Association

“The additional body fat can limit endurance, balance, coordination, and movement capacity. Joint range of motion can be negatively affected by excessive body mass and fat as well, and mass can form a physical barrier to joint movement in a complete range of motion. Thus, athletes competing in sports that require high levels of flexibility benefit from having low levels of body fat. “

The more overweight you are the more likely your body shape will affect the way you have to swing.

There are also longer-term implications for your health if you are carrying too much weight. High blood pressure and diabetes for example. The extra mass you are carrying also puts additional strain on your joints.

I certainly find my energy levels dropping on the back nine and also my concentration levels start to deteriorate as well. Going forward I think I would struggle to play many 36 hole competitions these days particularly if I know the course is going to be hilly.

For those of you that like to ride a cart, it may be time to think about walking instead as that could help you lose a few pounds.

Can Fat People Play Golf: Conclusion

While it’s quite possible to play golf even to an elite level when you’re overweight your golf game and your general health would probably be better if you managed to drop a few pounds.

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