Program Design & Implementation:
The “Core Four” Principles to Play for Life

Thor Parrish, PGA, the 2020 South Florida PGA Section Youth Player Development Award recipient, is the Co-Owner of the Junior Golf Performance Academy in Naples, Florida and Founder of Thunder Performance in Fort Myers, Florida

Shooting your age is the ultimate goal for any golfer. This feat has been done by many over the years, including Bob Hamilton, the youngest to do it at age 59, and Arthur Thompson, the oldest at 103. Many golfers await this day as much as they seek the elusive hole-in-one.

For me, my goal is to walk 18 holes when I am 100 years old. Setting this goal when I was 18, it has influenced the way I train, practice and play the game. And it has shaped my career, as I’m now blending golf and fitness to create optimal long-term training programs for golfers.

With the upcoming opening of my CrossFit gym, Thunder Performance, this concept will help people of all ages train to play for life. In my personal daily training and in coaching my athletes, I focus on core four principles that represent habits you can implement today that will help you play for life.

1. Exercise with intensity

As golf fitness increases in popularity, it is clear that high-functioning levels of fitness can improve your golf game. But what about the recreational golfers who just want to play golf in retirement to enjoy life and stay social? What exercises can help them shoot their age one day?

The key to this is training with intensity. The intensity of every movement you exert can be quantified on a scale of 1 to 10. Exercising at an intensity that is greater than golf demands will help you maintain the ability to play golf.

If you focus on 45 minutes of intensive exercise using functional movements, like squatting, jumping, lifting, pressing and rotating, not only will you be able to play for life, but you will maintain other physical capacities – such as getting in and out of a chair with ease or picking up your grandchildren.

2. Eat real food

Nutrition plays a huge part in how we recover, feel and perform on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead of focusing on what not to eat, focus on what you should eat. This includes meats, vegetables and fruits. If you make this conscious effort to eat real food, you’ll be making great short-, mid- and long-term investments into your health and fitness.

3. Practice and play with a purpose

The everyday golfer wants to play for the rest of his or her life, but we don’t have the schedule of a professional golfer. We have responsibilities, careers and families that limit our time to practice and play.

Practicing and playing with a purpose is important for the golfer looking to play for life. Focusing on the important fundamentals – grip, posture and alignment – is key for long-term development. Focusing on a target, and not trying to make the perfect swing, is also key.

4. Playing with the end in mind

Living to 100 years old might seem daunting, so breaking the goal of playing for life into more manageable goals is important. For instance, if my goal is to walk 18 holes at 100, I need to be able to walk 36 holes at age 90 and walk multiple days in a row at age 80. This makes your ultimate goal more realistic, and allows you to take daily actionable moves toward a goal that seems extremely far away, while always keeping the end in mind.