It’s a long way from Mahon Golf Course to La Quinta California but that’s the journey that Cork’s Mike Carroll has taken. Carroll is one of a small number of full-time golf fitness professionals, and he’s built a training business that supports all levels for golfers from beginners to veterans to tour professionals. After studying in Limerick he moved back to Cork in 2014 where he started Fit for Golf Cork. But by 2016 he was on the move to the US to take up a job with Mike Hansen, one of the early leaders in the area of golf fitness. Mike worked with Hansen Fitness for Golf for 4 years and in 2021 he set out on his own and drive his own business forward. Carroll has quickly become one of the key players in this specialist area.
“2021 was a very important year for me as I left Hansen Fitness For Golf, the company which I came over here to work for in 2016, and went full time with the Fit For Golf App. Being able to commit fully to Fit for Golf really helped progress things.” And the results were clear for Mike as subscriber numbers grew. “I have been extremely happy with the growth of the app. There are currently close to 5,000 subscribers, with a huge range of countries, ages, and levels of golfer. Since March 2021 all of my work has been geared around improving the material on the Fit For Golf App and growing the subscriber numbers.” While Mike has only been working on his own for a year, his app has been available since 2017 and he’s delighted that he has a large number of multi-year subscribers; “It has been very rewarding to see so many people make massive improvements in their golf health and fitness.” While the app works on a subscription model, Mike provides plenty on free content on his social media channels and through his website, http://www.fitforgolf.blog.
Waterford golfer Seamus Power has been hitting the headlines recently and his success is linked to Carroll’s golf fitness and S&C coaching. While Seamus Power isn’t from Cork, there are two strong Cork links to his success over the past two seasons. As well as having Mike Carroll working on his S&C, Powers caddy Simon Keelan is also from Cork. Mike is a long-time friend of Simon Keelan who has been caddying for Seamus Power for the past three seasons. Mike and Simon were junior members in Mahon and they both studied in the Belfry back in 2014. It was Simon who put Seamus in touch with Mike in early 2020 and soon after he started working with the Waterford PGA Tour winner. “When Simon began working with Seamus I was working with Mackenzie Hughes, Charles Howell III, and Brandt Snedeker” explained Mike. “Simon let Seamus know about this and suggested that he should get in touch to chat about his physical training. That was in May 2020. While we talked quite a bit on the phone and exchanged a lot of messages I didn’t meet Seamus until the Farmers Insurance Open in January 2021. He was living in Charlotte on the East Coast and I am on the West Coast, but this year he moved to Vegas which is much closer. I went to do some work with him in August, and I was in La Quinta at the American Express last week where I was with him and Charles Howell III.”
Despite working with a growing number of tour professionals, Mike continues to base himself in California. He uses technology to keep in touch with his tour players. “Almost all of the work is remote. I rarely see the players in person but I do stay in very regular contact. It is great to see the players in person occasionally though and be able to watch and coach in real time. On the PGA Tour I currently work with Seamus, Mackenzie Hughes, Charles Howell III, and Brian Gay, and on the European Tour I work with Scott Jamieson, Aaron Cockerill, and just started with Richard Bland. I was very happy to begin work with my first client on the LPGA Tour recently too, Kristen Gillman.”
As well as coaching, Mike is very focused on his own golf. As a teenager he saw his handicap drop to 5 but it was only in 2020 that he got down to scratch. Last year he moved on again, getting to +1 and putting a lot of his fitness and S&C methodologies to use in the drive to improve.
Anyone following Mike on social media will have seen his interest in maintaining muscle in golfers as they get older. Recently he’s broadened this to include non-golfers and he has some advice on this. “I have always been very interested in health and function, when you look around it’s clear to see that as people start to move past the 40 mark, function begins to decline. A large reason for this is the gradual loss of muscle strength and muscle mass. People don’t notice it because the scale doesn’t change, this is because as they are losing muscle, they are also gaining fat. It’s generally a slow process, and by the time the person is 55 or 66 there has been a huge negative change. It’s also largely avoidable and reversible with resistance training, for all age groups.”
“My advice to anyone over 40 is very simple, make resistance training part of your routine. Walking, jogging, cycling etc is all great, but it’s not enough to maintain muscle mass and strength. We need resistance training. It doesn’t have to be complicated or take too long. 15 minutes two to three times a week makes a world of difference.”