18SP: 003 David Donatucci| The Pros and Cons of Golf Fitness | Should You Train like a PGA Tour Player?

David is one of the most experienced trainers in the field of golf that you will come across.

Not only is he one of the most genuine guys I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with, but he continues to work with some of the best in the game, winning championships left and right.

In this episode, we talk about some of David’s philosophies on golf fitness and how the average golfer’s workout compare’s to what he has his pro players doing in the gym.

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David’s Background

  • Appearances on the Golf channel, Morning Drive, Golf Central, Golf Academy
  • Published in Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golf Weekly
  • Director of Fitness and performance at PGA of America
  • Designed the fitness facility at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance
  • Currently the director and owner of the Florida Institute of Performance at PGA National Resort
  • Current clients include: Stacy Lewis, Scott Langley, Brooks Koepka, Michelle Wei, Peter Uhlien, Paula Creamer, Web.com players, etc
  • Worked with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns, the NFL Combine, MLB players, etc.

Highlights and Topics:

  • Hughes Norton (golf agent) represented Greg Norman introduced David to the local teaching pros
  • Started seeing Peter Uhlien at age 13
  • Golf is where baseball was 10 yrs ago. In regards to strength training.
  • People are now starting to see how the body can improve the game, not just the equipment
  • David is not a big fan of so many people being certified as “golf fitness experts,” especially since a lot of the players out there are on their own to find someone to help them.  Believes that it makes it can make it more difficult for the golfer to find someone that is really qualified.
  • You should find a trainer that knows what your specific needs are, so they aren’t just “training you like a football player”
  • Evaluation and plan is the most important factor when looking at a workout program
  • Best way to increase your speed of swinging a club is to swing a club
  • People don’t work enough on the abs, glutes, scapular stability
  • If these aren’t working, your back etc takes the brunt
  • THE BIGGEST MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE is not having a plan

What’s the Difference between the training program of your average golfer and the pro golfers you work with?

  • The Volume and the Amount lifted.  The pro’s simply have more time to dedicate to their program.
  • Much of the program, both pro’s and not are focused on Corrective exercises
  • Amateurs don’t work on speed enough compared to slow controlled movements
  • Most amateurs don’t understand that you can get some of your work done with little things on the course (small little stretches and exercises)

What does you players’ average workout week look like during the season?

  • 1st 2 days they come back from a tourney is lighter then heavier the next several days
  • Does  lot of single leg motions. Generally more pull exercises than push on legs
  • Travel weeks are downloading weeks
  • Less work when they are on the road. More band work

Tournament week workouts:

  • MTW are heavier days
  • Start with correctives
  • 7 exercises: abdominals and low back
  • 5 main lift exercises (deadlifts, lateral bounds, leg curls, rows, pulldowns, followed up by corrective motions)
  • Full body everyday
  • Wed all SPEED motions with correctives
  • TH F speed motions and some HS/pulling motions
  • Sat/Sun some sort of activation and movement exercises
  • Tends to Minimize cardio

What’s the biggest mistake the average golfer makes in a golf fitness program?

  • Consistency. You have to do this on a regular basis for a long period of time if you want this to make you better

David Defines 18Strong as:

  •  Knowing that you put in the time off the course when you get to the 1st tee is where it comes into play.
  • The physical strength is only one part of it.
  • Have to ask yourself “Do you believe you are in the best shape possible and that you are better than your opponent?”
  • Be in the moment. Stay present in your round. Even the great players have to work to stay present. It’s not “what was” it’s “what is” right now.

David’s biggest struggle in his own fitness:

  • Consistency.  His focus on his clients and their schedules often leaves him neglecting his own training.
  • Sometimes cheats and just grabs an old client program rather than creating a program designed for him
  • Finds that it can be hard working out at his his own gym.  There is always something else to be done before he takes the time for himself

What do you see as a key to gaining distance?

o   Abdominal stability, training to stabilize in posture

Do you have a Favorite product or piece of fitness equipment?


What’s your favorite preround breakfast and snack?

  • Eggs, fruit, pumpernickel toast or bread
  • Generation you can (uses fat as energy)

What’s the biggest misconception of golf fitness?

  • That golfers just stretch

What separates the ones that make it from the ones that don’t?

  • Consistency
  • Belief in themselves and the efforts they have put in off the course

If you were just an average guy, with a regular job, what would your workout and practice routine look like?

  • Lunch time workouts (4-5 days per week)
  • After work 30-45 minute golf practice (3-4 days a week)
  • Playing 1-2 times per week

One Last piece of advice:

  • Just Get started
  • Organize your routine, have a plan, have a progression in mind

Where to find David:

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