Getting back your golf game |

Getting back your golf game

Most golfers don’t have the luxury of playing golf year-round; seasonal changes, holidays, fewer hours of daylight and business often get in the way.

When it’s time to start playing again, they’ve bought a state-of-the-art set of clubs, researched the best ball and practiced at the driving range until closing time. But, their drive still isn’t what they want it to be.

Maybe there’s one aspect of the game that hasn’t been considered yet ” their fitness level.

A golf fitness program serves many purposes. It should increase strength, balance, flexibility and longevity while minimizing aches and pains.

In addition, golf-specific exercises will reduce the body’s physical limitations, which, for example, might make it difficult to properly swing a golf club. Every exercise performed will have direct results on the golf course.

Here are seven fitness tips to help optimize golf performance:

– Build good core strength by focusing on rotational core exercises like doing crunches or using medicine balls and cable pulleys a few minutes a day. Solid core strength achieves powerful drives and eliminates back pain.

– Work on spinal rotation by placing a golf club behind your neck and across your shoulders, holding each end and twisting your torso 20-30 times. Good spinal rotation and range of motion will loosen back muscles, improving drive distance and potentially creating a pain-free back.

– Become flexible through yoga or pilates classes or regular stretching. Flexibility enhances every aspect of the game ” wrist rotation, swing, putting and can lessen the chance for injury.

– Focus on balance and coordination by getting in a golf posture and standing on one leg with your eyes closed. Other exercises to include are tai-chi, ballroom dancing, squats and stair climbing. Balance and coordination are crucial to landing the ball closer to the hole and controlling the golf swing, one of the most unnatural actions in any sport.

– Work on cardiovascular conditioning by interval training. Run or bike for 30 seconds at a moderate to extreme intensity; then recover by walking for 30 seconds. Repeat. This can be done on a treadmill, stationary bike, in a pool or outside on the grass. Cardiovascular fitness will help stabilize a golfer’s energy on the back nine, as playing 18 holes (whether walking or not) may tire many golfers.

– Incorporate strength training like squats and lunges, lat pull downs, chest press activities and tricep extensions in order to maintain strong, healthy bones and muscles. Physical strength enhances all aspects ” i.e. powerful drives ” of the game and decreases the chance of injury.

– Avoid fatigue. Nutrition complements a good fitness program. Continually fuel the body with water and healthy snacks like nuts or energy bars. The body needs readily available energy every two to three hours to avoid low blood sugar levels resulting in the body tiring.

Mark Tedsen, Tahoe Mountain Club’s Golf Fitness Instructor, practices physical therapy at The Center for Health and Sports Performance in Truckee, specializing in golf fitness.

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