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January 9, 2018

Stretch it Out for a more enjoyable 2018 Golf Season

Sadly, there have been a number of trips around the sun since the last time I could say I sported a “scratch handicap” as a golfer.  And aside from the calendar effect, the fact that it has been quite some time since I have had an intimate relationship with my toes, and do not regularly see them (or other anatomic appendages) without undo bending or stretching makes it increasingly more difficult to keep my golf scores in what I previously would have called an acceptable range.  Age and physical inactivity can be terrible things!

A few seasons ago, I regularly worked with a golf coach in the Calgary area, who decided to take a new club position in Saskatchewan.  Through video, electronic and social media, we continued to work together on a more infrequent scale.  Suddenly one Spring, I started hitting a terrible hook, primarily with the driver, so I fed him a video of my swing, expecting to hear back with a technical description of some sloppy mechanics that could be easily changed once identified.  Instead I got back a simple five-word email.

“When did you stop turning?”

Although it still felt like a full shoulder turn, due to inactivity my backswing all of a sudden had become about a quarter of what it was just a few snowy months before.  Simply put, without a full take-away of the club, there is not the required time to return the clubface to the ball in the correct position.  Instant hook.  Or slice.  Or a combination of both.  In other words, very inconsistent ball flights, which can frustrate any golfer immediately with no apparent hope of a quick fix.

Whether we are 70 or 17, or anywhere in between, I can tell you from experience that a few minutes a day during the off season, and just a few simple stretches can allow you to avoid what I went through that one Spring.  These can be done with little or no equipment, and completed in front of the television in a matter of 15 minutes per day.  I would recommend the use of a 4” diameter foam roller available at Walmart or other retailers) or at minimum a rolled up towel – anything suitable to lay on along your spine and raise the shoulders a few inches off of the floor.
  1. “Snow Angels”
Laying with arms at sides, swing arms in a “snow angel motion” one at a time from your side to straight up pointing above your head.  Be sure to extend hands as far as possible, stretching the shoulder joints.  Repeat slowly 20 times with each arm, feeling the stretch in your neck and shoulders with each extension.
  1. “Overhead Shoulder Stretch”
Still on your back, with shoulders slightly elevated with foam roll or towel, swing your arms up in front of you until you reach the floor behind your head, stretching slowly as far above your head as possible.  Repeat slowly 20 times with each arm.
  1. “Book Stretch”
Turn on your left side, with knee bent to 90 degrees and resting on foam roll or towel to raise it off of ground.  With right arm in front of you, bend elbow to 90 degrees.  From this position, keeping your hips still, open the right shoulder, keeping elbow bent at 90 degrees, “as if it was the cover of a book”.  Rotate your right shoulder and chest open as far as comfortable, pausing briefly when you meet your maximum stretch.  Repeat slowly 20 times, then switch to your right side and repeat with left arm.
  1. “Backswing Rotational Stretch”
For this stretch, you need two golf clubs, or a club and an alignment rod.  Assume your normal golf set up, and place the rod or one of the clubs at 90 degrees to your stance, roughly where your ball position would be.  Place the other club across your chest and shoulders, with arms crossed and one hand holding the club shaft on front of each shoulder.  The grip end of the club should extend about 12” to the side of your body.  KEEPING YOUR GOLF POSTURE, make a slow backswing move, until the grip of the club you are holding becomes parallel or better with the club or alignment rod on the ground.  Once to get to parallel or better, hold for 5 seconds, then repeat slowly 20 times.
This four- stretch routine should not take more than 20 minutes per day to complete, is relatively low impact, and requires no equipment to implement into your daily routine.  In fact, one of the true beauties of this routine is that it can be done in front of your TV!
As simple as it sounds, this 20 minute per day routine, performed during January to March, will get you back on the course in April with better rotation and better fundamentals than you left with in September!


December 18, 2017

Golfers Aren’t Athletes… Right?
The average club golfer doesn’t require a golf fitness program – even those with ambitions of winning their club Championship? After all…
Golfers aren’t athletes… right?
Actually, even for the Men’s or Ladies Night player or the those of us working on winning the weekend Nassau at the Club, ANY amount of off season training can help us enjoy the game, and play better golf, come Springtime.
Strength, power, flexibility, balance, core stability, body awareness, even endurance… they’re all physical traits that every consistent golfer (even the fair-weather players) must possess.
The golf industry is littered with gadgets and gimmicks for increasing accuracy and shot distance. Yet for all their claims and guarantees most remain independently unproven. Compare that to a basic golf fitness program…
Jenny Anderson, a writer for Sports Fitness Advisor makes some interesting observations about the need for some level of fitness for the game of golf.
After 5 weeks of completing 5 minutes of very simple home exercises 5 times a week, golfers increased their clubhead speed by an average of 24%
While it could be argued that clubhead speed is only one small facet of a golfer’s overall game, it is highly correlated with a player’s handicap. In other words, the lower a player’s handicap is, the higher their clubhead speed at impact tends to be.
In fact, a 24% increase relates to a reduction of 4 shots off a golfer’s handicap. This is just one of several studies that proves the benefits of conditioning for golf.
And the benefits of golf fitness training are not reserved for the young. Golfers aged 55-75 have also benefited from strength and flexibility training – both in terms of general health parameters and their performance on the course.
For the more serious golfers, conditioning can no longer be seen as an unnecessary add-on to their practise routine. Just as a committed amateur athlete spends time on their technique AND their fitness, so must the golfer who demands to be the best they can. There is a caveat however…
In order to improve performance in any sport, training must be specific to the demands of the game involved. Of the few golfers who do appreciate the importance of physical training, most still make the mistake of following a general fitness routine.
If you want hit every shot consistently further you need to take a different approach. Not a more complicated approach. Not a more time-consuming approach. A more golf-specific approach.
There are many simple drills that can be done indoors during the winter months, that don’t require a golf simulator or even a hitting net.  In coming weeks we will highlight some of the research done on these golf specific training exercises, as well as skill-specific drills that can often be done at home with a minimum if equipment.
Follow along to make your 2018 golf season the best it can be!