By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- When Bo Van Pelt was a student at Oklahoma State, he hit the gym with regularity. Mike Holder, who led the Cowboys to nine NCAA titles, wouldn't have it any other way.
Once he graduated, though, and played his way onto the PGA TOUR, Van Pelt admits he wasn't always so diligent. That is, until about three years ago, when the Indiana native, who is now 37, realized he'd been pretty darn lucky not to have had any serious physical problems interrupt his career.
"I was smart enough to realize that as you get older if you just keep doing the same stuff it's probably just going to regress," Van Pelt said. "So I got together with a group of guys that train some guys out here and just kind of made a plan and I've stuck to it and my results have been better."
Better, indeed. Van Pelt picked up his first PGA TOUR title in 2009 and he has earned $8.7 million in the last three years. The veteran had a career-high top-10 finishes in 2013, as well.
The key for Van Pelt has been accountability -- just like he had with Holder. If his trainers say he's going to do a 25-minute warm up before he plays, Van Pelt is there. Ditto for the workout after a round. Another trainer when he's back in Tulsa makes sure there is no back-sliding too.
"He's on me like, hey, are you home yet? I'm going to see you tomorrow," Van Pelt said, grinning. "If I have that appointment, I'm not going to slip out on it. We're just setting up the framework for me to be accountable to them."
Van Pelt is one of several players on TOUR who represents Humana, which sponsors this week's PGA TOUR event in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He was joined at a press conference Wednesday by the company's newest ambassador, Gary Player, and it was clear Van Pelt was in awe of the 77-year-old.
"I always think of the good old line about Mickey Mantle (that) if he'd have known he was going to live that long he would have taken better care of his body and I think Gary Player is the exact opposite of that," Van Pelt said. "He's done everything he could do to make sure he lived as healthy as he could for as long as he could.
"You look at the guy's lifestyle -- he's probably more active than most 30-year-olds in this country. it's a credit to him and the commitment he made a long time ago. he's reaping the benefits and it's an inspiration to all of us."
Van Pelt was among the players whose steps were calculated during last year's Humana Challenge. He says the 12,000 he took that week might have calculated into too many shots -- "but I made the cut so I was probably walking over to help my amateur partner some," he said with a wry smile. He's hoping for more birdies in the 2013 event.
All the players will be measured this week and their steps, combined with calories burned, shown in real-time on the Golf Channel and on HumanaChallenge.com. Van Pelt thinks it's a great way to demonstrate that you don't necessarily have to pump iron to reap the benefit of exercise.
"I think everybody, even me, you get intimidated, I don't want to go in the gym," Van Pelt said. "And you can do like Gary said and just get up and walk some. You'd be amazed just do that a little bit day after day what that can lead to."