Senior champion Karen Garcia’s top golf fitness tips

Karen Garcia

Karen Garcia had lost about 10 pounds in the 2013 photo at left; by 2015, she had lost a total of about 60 and no longer needed the knee brace yet was strong enough to hit a hybrid off the tee of a 332-yard par-4.

KAREN GARCIA credits an intense three-year golf fitness regimen for transforming both her game and her body. She lost 60 pounds and five sizes while gaining strength, balance, flexibility and stamina and bringing the USGA’s gigantic U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur trophy home to Cool, Calif., in 2015 at age 53. And she’s willing to share her top golf fitness tips to fellow competitors.

“I would help anyone out,” she said. “The thing is, there’s no magic. This is all stuff I’ve read about, stuff I’ve thought about. In the end it’s about what motivates you to finally get moving.”

Garcia started with a 25-point Titleist Performance Institute evaluation, and that TPI website is full of advice and exercises designed for golf fitness. For specifics, visit


  1. Body-weight and core exercises. These included planks, bridges, push-ups and lots of rotational work. Garcia notes that she started out doing basic bridges to strengthen her butt and hamstrings; now she does these on a ball.
  2. Medicine ball exercises. Husband Ruben went beyond his usual caddy role to receive Garcia’s tosses, slams and bounces. Simple rotations, however, can be done solo.
  3. Resistance-band work. Instead of using free weights or gym machines, Karen pushed and pulled bands from anchor points and used them for flys and chops.

Once Garcia’s surgically repaired knees strengthened from body-weight and core workouts and the loss of her first 10 pounds, she was able to add cardio to shed pounds, which allowed her to do even more intense workouts with weights. These included dead lifts and kettleball swings and even those formerly knee-nixed lunges and squats.

“I changed my diet as well,” Garcia said. “So I don’t want to make it sound like it was all exercise driven.”


  1. Eat at least five servings of fruits and veggies daily in small meals and snacks. Garcia packs small salads, mandarin oranges, chunks of cheese and apples for the golf course, and eats a piece of fruit on her way home from work to her workout.
  2. Eliminate most bread and starches, including pastas and grains. Yes, basic carb-cutting.
  3. Drink lots of water. Karen estimates that she chugs 80 to 100 ounces daily.

“There’s no one plan, no one way to go about this,” Garcia said. “I don’t know why it finally became time for me to get off the couch and make those changes. I don’t even know what I was doing with my time. I might not have a lot of balance right now. I’m pretty dedicated to this fitness and competitive golf. The thing about lofty goals: You push yourself.”

Garcia doesn’t need to lose any more weight, obviously, but she’s still driven to maintain her fitness. She has a 10-year exemption now for the Senior Women’s Amateur.

“The reality we can all relate to is that it’s about staying healthy and playing every hole,” she said.

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