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Nov 12

Does Golf "Fit" You?

Jim Hale Women's Golf Center

I remember a cold winter night about two years ago when several of the folks who play golf together gathered at a traditional spot for some drinks and conversation. This location had a large indoor area where the owner had a net, an artificial turf pad and a set of golf clubs ready for anyone who wished to take a few swings. Nearly everyone tried out this informal practice area at one time or another. This particular night, I grabbed an old driver from the bag, put down a golf ball and, after a few practice swings, hit the ball into the net with a nice full swing. One of the men standing behind me said something like this – “Yeah, but you’re flexible!”

My first impulse was to respond quickly with, “Well, I work at it.”
But I held my tongue and said, after a short pause, “I do some stretching and a few other exercises every morning. That helps.” I said it as diplomatically as I could. The fellow who commented took a few swings after my turn, but, to be honest, his backswing was not complete and his stance led him to swing with a flat arc. He just seemed to struggle while hitting the ball.
While most young golfers don’t feel they need to go through a major exercise regimen if they’re weekend golfers, it may serve any and all golfers well to stay fit if they want to be at their best. Stretching and a couple of minutes exercising every morning is, at least, a good start.

But what if the golfer wants to gain stamina, add some distance to various shots and just generally stay in shape for those 18-hole rounds on hot summer days? That’s where fitness programs come in, and there are several good ones to choose from. In fact, over the past decade or two, fitness experts, trainers, golf coaches and others have produced golf-fitness videos with very specific goals in mind. For example, there is a brief stretching program that is suitable for the driving range, while there is yet another that focuses on  warming up before a “live” round.

Other video training is designed to give the golfer stability and balance, key elements in beginning and carrying through a golf swing. For those who wish to add some yardage to their shots, programs are available to help the golfer put strength where it matters most- at the point of impact. One popular “kit” includes a DVD and several small items of exercise equipment specifically designed for gaining distance and improving flexibility. The “workout” is primarily stretching against resistance. This type of all-in-one kit has a very reasonable price. There are also numerous swing-trainer DVDs, some that are intended to help the golfer change the swing to avoid injury, increase swing extension and/or remained balanced from start to finish.

Of course, there are dozens of exercise programs, training DVDs and associated equipment that are not specifically for the golfer. But these may help, if the user understands fully what it is he or she is trying to accomplish. For example, some fitness-program designers integrate the overall benefits of yoga with mild stretching and mental readiness. Programs such as this put little, if any, emphasis on strength, shaped muscles or power during the swing. Yet the general well-being and relaxation gained may improve the golf game significantly if used consistently. The best thing about most of the fitness and strength programs is their price, a nice bonus when it comes time to get your favorite golfer a Christmas gift.

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James Hale

James Hale