The Toledo Strongman: Golf’s Fitness Pioneer
Golfer as ‘athlete’ is a relatively new phenomenon. Tiger Woods is duly credited with bringing athleticism, strength and fitness into the 21st century as evidenced by his physical transformation that began some fifteen years ago. His body started to match up with his other-worldly game as he morphed his lanky and sinewy teenager’s physique into a brutish Atlas with linebacker proportions. Don’t be mistaken, Tiger wasn’t the first…
Eight decades earlier a two-time Major winner known as, “The Toledo Strongman”, routinely traveled with more than four hundred pounds of weights in the trunk of his car. He was heralded as the greatest amateur golfer since the immortal Bobby Jones scooping up over 70 amateur titles, runner-ups in five Majors, all the while holding the number one powerlifting title in his weight class from 1945 thru 1954! No less than Arnold Palmer nicknamed him, “Muscles”. I wonder why?
He was devoted to muscle building and nutrition as a golfer in a time when the science of physical fitness was as much understood as interplanetary space travel. Golfers were told, as some are to this day, “Don’t lift weights cuz’ you’ll bulk up, lose flexibility and the touch required for fine motor skill activity like: putting, chipping and pitch shots. As the first notable player to make fitness a regimen for golf, the Toledo Strongman knew better, proving it over time and time again. He understood the importance of staying strong and healthy and pioneered a movement that took only sixty years to begin!
Does the name, Frank “The Toledo Strongman” Stranahan ring a bell? Ask any golfer and 99% of them would draw a blank stare—and that’s unfortunate. Because of Stranahan, every golfer who has submitted themselves to a golf performance training program can tip their hat to the man… And every squat, clean and jerk, press, curl, dip, medicine ball and cable pull ought to be done in the memory of one of Toledo’s greats.
In part two, we’ll look at the player’s Stranahan has inspired and the affect his philosophy has had on the game up to 2016.
Article Posted 2.22.16 - Written by Mark Spinelli