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HEALTH & FITNESS

It’s no secret that Canada has an obesity epidemic going on right now and golf represents an enormous remedy to that problem.

Golf is great for you. Flexibility is important. Cardiovascular fitness is a big part of the game. There is a strength aspect and a whole mental relaxation component that you have to work on. Golf is actually a phenomenal sport for health purposes.

As the exercise physiologist for the RCGA since 2004, I work with the National Amateur Teams andmy mission is to turn golfers into athletes and convert golf into a sport. Progress is definitely being made in this mission.

Through our National Team testing, we have collected data and statistics and we can now relate the different exercises that the players do to various aspects of their games. For example, good forearm strength can help a player get out of the rough easier, while strong core muscles help improve driving.

While those findings would not come as a surprise to golfers, we also discovered some other interesting things that youmight not have expected.

For example, we found that aerobic fitness seems to be correlated to a player’s putting efficiency, so the most aerobically fit players seem to be the ones who take the fewest putts over the course of a season.

So, fitness plays an important role in the success of high level golfers, whether they are playing extra holes because of a weather delay from the day before, or coming up on the 18th hole in temperatures over 30°C. But the importance of fitness is not confined to elite athletes.

Just because players on the National Team are giving us four or five hours a day, six days a week, doesn’tmean that all golfers can’t put in three hours a week to do all of the things that you need to work on just to be healthy.

With the National Teams, we address six general areas, including balance, flexibility, posture, core stability/strength, cardiovascular fitness and strength/power.

fitnessBALANCE
Good balance helps a golfer control his/her shots, maintain good swing mechanics on uphill and downhill lies and make good shots from the sand.The goal of balance training is to promote good front-toback and side-to-side balance and body control to help the golfer transfer momentum from the legs to the dynamic and moving upper body during the swing, while maintaining total control. Inability tomaintain your balance during the swing will affect your swing mechanics and lead to decreased accuracy.

FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility is considered to be an important component in sport performance, injury prevention and good health and is of particular importance in golf, where free movement is critical to swing mechanics and clubhead speed. Tiger Woods once addressed the importance of flexibility to the success of professional golfers. “If you look at some of the players on tour who can really bomb it – guys like Hank Kuehne and Charles Howell – they’re not the most physically intimidating athletes,” said
Woods. “But they all are very flexible players who can generate tremendous clubhead speed, while swinging in balance. That’s also one of the keys tomy power. I’mconvinced that if you increase your flexibility, you’ll add power to your swing.” around the spine and then contractingmuscles in the legs, arms, abdomen, lower back and hips, so high performance depends on effective transfer of energy, all of which hinges on the strength and power of the core muscles.

 

STRENGTH AND POWER|
The most obvious benefit of improved

POSTURE
Good posture ensures proper positioning at address and throughout the golf swing, while also helping to prevent injuries. To check your posture, stand against a wall with your heels, buttocks, shoulders and back of the head in contact with the wall. The idealposition would be for the ears to be directly over the shoulders, the shoulders over the hips with arms loose at the sides, hips over the knees and the knees over the ankles. This should be a comfortable position that you should try to hold whenever you are training.


CORE STABILITY
The golf swing is one of the most physically stressful movements in all of sports. Typical clubhead speeds off the tee can exceed 160 km an hour and it takes just 0.2 seconds for the golfer to accelerate to that speed. This is accomplished by coiling the body around the spine and then contractingmuscles in the legs, arms, abdomen, lower back and hips, so high performance depends on effective transfer of energy, all of which hinges on the strength and power of the core muscles.

STRENGTH AND POWER
The most obvious benefit of improved strength in golf is the positive effect on clubhead speed, which can be increased dramatically with proper training. Stronger muscles will give you more fine motor control, meaning that because you are stronger, each swing is relatively less stressful and the likelihood of making a mistake is decreased. Fine motor skills can be measured by accuracy – greens and fairways hit – while strength can be measured directly by driving distance. Perhaps most important is the fact that a comprehensive strength training program that works all muscles and joints, even those not necessarily used in the golf swing, will help reduce the chances of injury by ensuring that you have a strong and stable musculoskeletal system.

MUSCLE POWER
There are few movements in sport that are as powerful as the drive in golf, which requires the ability to apply a lot of force very quickly. To train your muscles and joints to move quickly and accurately, decrease the weight that you might be lifting in the gym and increase the speed of your movements.

 
 
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