Ben Haggerty is on the elevated ninth tee at Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Ventura County, California, searching for the perfect drive. Thwapp! Snap hook into the rough on the left. He rolls his eyes.
Thwapp! A slice flies onto the fairway of an adjacent hole. Another eye roll and a head shake. Thwapp! The third ball arcs down the middle of the fairway. “Okay,” he says, “I just had to get warmed up.”
Haggerty, better known as hip-hop artist Macklemore, goes on, starts getting lyrical. “You hit a bad shot, you can’t let that affect your next one,” he says. “I think that confidence is a through line between anything in life but absolutely between golf and music. That’s a mental exercise, ’cause there are those moments of doubt in the studio, too.”
Haggerty, 37, the voice behind the hits “Can’t Hold Us” and “Thrift Shop,” knows this ugly warmup process well. He’s been golfing only for two and a half years, after all, so he’s not exactly Rory McIlroy. Nevertheless, four days a week, whether on the road or back in his native Seattle, Haggerty trots out to the links for a lesson in dealing with mistakes and doubt that just happens to burn calories while he’s out in nature.
Then he heads home and works through a routine of bodyweight moves that he hopes will make him a stronger golfer. On this day, that means going back to his Malibu Airbnb for bodyweight squats, ball slams, and a series of core exercises. Haggerty’s coach, Seattle-based golf pro Keith Bennett, told him that these will give him the hip flexibility and abdominal strength to better drive the ball. When Haggerty first tried the sport, he struggled. He met up with Bennett and has been practicing and working out more often during the pandemic. He wants to be a single-digit-handicap golfer by the end of the sum-mer. (He’s a solid 10.6 right now.)
“Golf is such a weirdly strenuous sport on the body,” he says while holding a plank. “The actual movement, getting the hips to open, the flexibility, the core strength—all those things I need to work on.” The doubts creep in here, too, because he’s never trained this way. For most of the past two decades, Haggerty avoided the gym but still chased his goal of being “super ripped” by crushing calories during his concerts, which have him rapping, bounding, and raising the roof of arenas around the world. “You’d be onstage for an hour and a half each show,”he says. “Those are workouts!”
Haggerty doesn’t enjoy working out for the sake of working out, so when that concert schedule fell apart last year, he focused his fitness plan on improving his golf game. There are other motivations as well. He shifts onto his back to do a set of dead bugs. “A lot of family walks start out as everyone walking and end with me carrying my two children,” he says. “I’ve realized that if I’m going to be a good dad, I’ve got to be in better shape.”
He keeps grinding, slamming a med ball into the ground, an exercise he’s still just learning. This struggle is as real as the struggle to churn out his next hit. But he knows why he won’t give up. “If it’s for golf,” he says, “I’ll do it.”
Get Hip for Golf
Loosen your hips and strengthen your core (key traits on the course) with this ultra-quick circuit built from Haggerty’s favorite moves. Do 3 rounds of each move anytime throughout your day. Do not rest between moves.
10 reps per side
A version of this story originally appears in the May 2021 issue of Men’s Health, with the title “6 A.M. With… Macklemore”.
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