WHOOP: Why it's taking the tour by storm and what it can do for you
Arguably the hottest item among Tour professionals this year hasn’t been the latest driver or longest ball. In fact, this product doesn’t even help golfers hit their shots. But, it does make them better players and more-focused competitors. The WHOOP Strap 3.0 has been on the wrists of several Tour winners this year, as well as throngs of other pros -- none of whom get paid to wear it. Think of it as an ultra-advanced, state-of-the-art fitness tracker.
WHOOP has already proven to be a valuable tool in the return of the PGA Tour this month. When Nick Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage after testing positive for COVID-19, he said he sought a test because of a spike in his respiratory rate reading on his WHOOP.
“I’ve been wearing a WHOOP strap for more than a year now and I’ve learned to read and understand my data,” Watney said in a statement. “On Friday morning of the RBC Heritage, I saw my respiratory rate had spiked on Thursday night. This was consistent with information shared by the WHOOP community, that it could be an early indication of COVID-19. This alerted me to ask the PGA Tour for a test even though I didn’t have any other symptoms, and I unfortunately tested positive. I’m very grateful to have identified these signs early enough, and I am now following PGA Tour protocol.”
Since then, WHOOP announced it will be supplying all players, caddies and other essential personnel on the PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Champions WHOOP fitness straps in an effort to better detect early signs of COVID-19.
"We are rapidly onboarding everyone in the PGA Tour universe and respect the measures that they are taking to keep the Tour safe," WHOOP CEO Will Ahmed said.
What started as a performance monitoring tool solely for elite athletes began catching on with the world’s top golfers three years ago. As they travel from one event to the next — which in itself can take a tremendous toll on their bodies -- Tour pros perpetually seek an edge to improve their games and stay ahead of the competition. Gushes one top player: “Right from the start, I realized WHOOP was an unbelievable tool to evaluate my process and help me prepare each day.”
Thankfully for you, WHOOP is now also available to the masses. So, how exactly does it work?
Where other wearables monitor the basics like step count and heart rate, WHOOP goes well beyond -- giving insightful feedback through its Bluetooth-paired smartphone app on how your mind and body are adapting to external stressors. Among other things, stress can manifest itself in sleep quality, heart rate and heart rate variability. WHOOP tracks these physiological phenomena and translates that data into actionable recommendations.
Let’s start with sleep. If yours is lacking, it’s almost certainly affecting you on the golf course. WHOOP evaluates your sleep quantity, quality and efficiency, then coaches you to a better night’s rest by suggesting how much time you need to spend in bed. After all, chronic sleep debt reduces your mental and physical capacity that in turn lowers your performance level. Additionally, WHOOP tracks your sleep cycles and stages nightly, telling you how much time you spend in each. Tour pros using it aim to get 40-50 percent of their total sleep in deeper stages, so they can fully leverage physiological and psychological capacity in competition.
WHOOP also measures strain -- the cardiovascular load you put on your body. It opens a window into how quickly or slowly you’re using up the proverbial fuel in your tank, and lets you know the exertion level you should aim to achieve each day. Managing strain and understanding how it builds is paramount in reducing any uncertainty around your performance levels. On the WHOOP app, you can see your live strain measure, heart rate and caloric burn all in real time, and even share performance analysis with your coach or swing instructor.
The thing that really sets WHOOP apart -- and the metric that many Tour pros find most valuable -- is the daily recovery score. Taking into account your previous strain, sleep and a number of other key physiological factors, it gives you a percentage from 0-100 (broken down and color-coded as red, yellow or green) indicating exactly how ready your body is to perform that day. Using the WHOOP recovery metric as a training guide enables golfers to ensure they’re “in the green” when it matters most.
Ultimately, WHOOP is an information portal to your body that lets you know ahead of time when you’re primed to swing the club effortlessly, zero in on all of your targets, and think clearly out on the course. By taking your most advanced biometric data and presenting it to you in uncomplicated language and easy-to-understand graphics, it’s like having a personal trainer right on your wrist.
Click here to sign up using promo code “GolfDigest” for 15% off a Whoop membership. Then you’ll see why two of the world’s top four Tour pros rely on it -- and how it can transform your game, too.