Fitness instructor Sean Cochran has the luxury of spending much of his time with professional golfers. His San Diego training facility is a common stop for Phil Mickelson, who has worked out under Cochran's guidance for more than a decade. Cochran's résumé also includes relationships with U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, former PGA golfers Brad Faxon and Peter Jacobsen and LPGA golfers In-Kyung Kim, Jennifer Johnson and Hee Won Han. He travels 15-20 weeks of the year on tour, crossing fitness paths with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.
While the top golfers have the time and resources to keep themselves in competitive shape, amateurs -- who make up the vast majority of the golfing industry -- do not. But Cochran, 42, does not change his training mechanisms among pro and amateur golfers other than altering weight based on size.
"There's no difference," he says. "The body is the body whether you're on the PGA Tour or a 15 handicap."
But there is a difference in that amateur golfers do not always understand the necessity for conditioning. Before getting into golf fitness, Cochran worked as a strength and conditioning coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. He moved into the golf field in 2003 and saw a glaring difference between the two sports.
"You had a number of professional players committing to fitness programs. But the information and the awareness on the other levels, the amateur level, was very much non-existent," Cochran says. "I had the opportunity to expand and provide information and basically start to expand this marketplace in the golf scene."
It is common practice among amateur golfers, and amateur athletes as a whole, to focus on strength training. American culture places an especial emphasis on swelled arm and chest muscles.
For golf, Cochran advises bodybuilders proceed with caution. While a certain level of arm and shoulder strength is needed, bench press values can only go so far in golf. Big muscles do not always transition onto the golf course.
"You need rotational strength and rotational speed," he says. "Going into the gym and doing bicep curls and triceps exercises is not going to do that."
Cochran breaks his teachings into five categories needed to succeed at golf: Mobility, balance, core, power training and strength training.
"If I was going to baseline it for the majority of amateur players, I see the need to improve mobility and flexibility is number one," Cochran says.
Size and strength is nothing without the ability to hit through the ball. Hitting a stationary option requires the body to develop its full momentum from scratch. Cochran emphasizes the practice of building flexibility. This means extra stretching and hip rotations to engrain the movement into the body. Hip mobility may be the most important movement for a golfer.
Amateurs do not always realize this, leading to bad habits.
"If they can't turn their hips, they're still going to develop some sort of necessary pattern to hit the golf ball," he says. "That's where they start to lead into these swing faults and compensation to hit the ball."
A full golf swing hinges on the ability to create torque from a flat-footed position. Shifting the body correctly to make contact with the ball at maximum force is a more reliable mechanism than relying on biceps.
Of course this is connected with balance and core, as hips cannot swing without such chemistry. Cochran advises amateur golfers to strengthen their core with such basic exercises as planks, standard and to the side. In doing this exercise, which requires no equipment and little time, golfers can build their abs while teaching their body balance.
"The core is what I call the engine of the golf swing," Cochran says. "It's all muscle on the front, sides and back of the body, and it's responsible for the slope and rotation. Many amateur golfers lack the hip mobility and core strength to execute a consistent golf swing."
In terms of power and strength training, Cochran does not focus on traditional biceps and triceps exercises. He caters his exercises for golfing motions. Rather than lift weights straight up, he has his students move a medicine ball in the direction of their golf swing. This improves strength while developing habits in the right direction.
"Honestly, I don't care how strong you get," he says. "If you can't turn and you can't rotate and you can't maintain the spine angle, you have no chance."
As for cardio, Cochran notes the pros walk four to six miles a day on the course. Cochran experienced this with bags over his shoulders as a caddie in high school. He coaches his professional contemporaries to maintain a "level of endurance and aerobic capacity." This essentially means tour players should be fit enough to go unaffected by long, in-round walks.
Meanwhile for amateur golfers, time is not of the essence to maintain a high cardio level. Cochran does not ask for much from amateurs, both in terms of time and energy.
"I suggest my amateur players take an apparatus of their choice and spend 20 minutes on it, 2-3 days a week," he says. "They only need what I call 'conversational aerobics.' This is hard, but not too hard of work."
As part of the Play 9 Challenge initiative on Wednesday, July 23, Cochran was available to provide fitness instructions to amateur golfers. The day was sponsored by American Express and encouraged the working world to get out on the course to squeeze in nine holes before going into the office. Simply playing nine holes rather than sitting in front of a laptop can improve a person's overall health.
Diet is another consideration. Cochran notes many of the top players can be seen eating during competition because of structured diets to keep them mentally focused and physically compact on the course.
"Food is fuel," Cochran says. "If you're giving your body poor fuel, just like a car, you're going to have issues."
Cochran lists nutrition in one of his four "absolutes" for all athletes. His other absolutes are maintaining a healthy emotional, mechanical and physical state.
As for his own game, Cochran took much of his 20s off to focus on his baseball training career, but returned to the game in 2003. He told ThePostGame he is an eight handicap. Cochran also insists he sees the aspects he teaches transition to his own game.
Although he does not work for an MLB team anymore, Cochran works with a series of top-notch baseball players, including Jake Peavy, Cole Hamels, Barry Zito and Carlos Quentin. Former players Trevor Hoffman, Mark Prior and Ben Sheets spent time working with Cochran.
Of course, Cochran gets out on the golf course with his baseball acquaintances. He sees parallels between the two sports.
"Most baseball players are good golfers," Cochran says. "For pitchers, the biomechanical motion of throwing a baseball is very similar to the way a golfer generates energy in a swing. Position players have great hand-eye coordination. Their mechanics when they hit the golf ball are not always great, but they know how to square up."
Two newly inducted Hall of Famers that Cochran got on the course with are Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Cochran says the two pitches are "fabulous" golfers.
Cochran graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in 1995. He has accreditations from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the United States Weightlifting Federation, the American Sports Medicine Institute the Titleist Performance Institute and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He is the author of the book "Stronger Arms and Upper Body" (1999).
Cochran lives in Del Mar, Calif. and he has a training center in San Diego. He can be contacted on his website, SeanCochran.com.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.