Inside the unique training routine that turned Viktor Hovland into a PGA Tour star
Before Viktor Hovland had even turned pro, he was turning heads in the golf world. The “Smiling Assassin” was the low amateur at both the 2019 Masters and the 2019 U.S. Open, and in his first full season on Tour has already notched a win at the Puerto Rico Open.
But making it on Tour and being a household name at just 22 years old takes more than just talent — it takes hours in the gym fueled by a drive to be the best. After a video shared by Hovland’s performance coach Kim Røtnes Jensen went viral, it’s clear Viktor has this in spades.
After winning a scholarship from the Norwegian Golf Federation in high school, Hovland decided to put it toward additional training with Jensen to become the best golfer he could be.
Jensen’s approach with any junior is all about developing him into a well-rounded athlete while incorporating exercises that will translate to the specific sport he plays, with the ultimate goal of passing off a solid, prepared athlete to a university program.
“With all my athletes, Viktor included, I look at them as athletes,” Jensen said. “Not as golfers, tennis or soccer players. I want to coach them in every aspect of what the body is capable of — that will help them in the future in any sport.”
Hovland came to Jensen as an already gifted athlete complete with good mobility, stability and strength thanks to a multisport background in handball, soccer and taekwondo. To bolster this, Jensen often included everything from boxing to using badminton rackets to develop arm speed to using baseball bats for training hand-eye coordination, sequencing, power and speed into Hovland’s training. Track and field workouts were also common to help build on his fast twitch muscles needed for an explosive swing.
Jensen also incorporated movements like squats and deadlifts into Hovland’s training, and worked on the functional strength and ranges of motion Hovland would need in his golf swing. This included rotational drills for speed and power and plyometric exercises, including squat jumps, both bodyweight and with resistance to train vertical power.
For a golfer like Hovland, the ability to rotate forcefully and under control is also critical. “With golf and other rotational sports rotational strength and power are crucial. So is resisting and controlling, stabilizing and balancing through the swing,” Jensen said. “So we did a lot of rotational drills to work on that, and did drills to control the rotational speed and power through core and stability drills.” This also included specific drills to work on the “pump” for which Hovland’s swing is now famous.
If it sounds like a lot of work to put in at a such a young age, it is. Hovland trained three to four times per week during his high school career between sessions with Jensen and at WANG Toppidrett Golf, a school dedicated to developing Norway’s most talented young golfers.
Because his athletes spend so much time in the gym, Jensen does his best to keep his training sessions fun. By incorporating creative drills and using group settings to get his athletes’ competitive fire going, he’s able to keep them interested and their training on track to earn college scholarships. For Hovland, that meant attending Oklahoma State University where the training program was a continuation of the functional strength and conditioning he became accustomed to with Jensen.
All of the hours spent in the gym have paid off big time for Hovland. From his college career to his success on Tour, his work ethic and smile have paved the way. More than that, Hovland has become a role model for young athletes in Norway. For a country used to winning winter sports medals, Hovland has inspired a generation of young golfers to approach the sport as athletes first.
Hovland is currently working with Jensen on creating a 2020 training plan that will harken back to his junior days with a focus on athletic strength and conditioning, supporting drills for golf, pre-practice dynamic warmups and muscle activation and a special training program for tournament weeks. Most importantly, this program will stress fun.
With his training at all time high and his efforts refocused, expect Hovland to be a mainstay on Tour for years to come.
To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.