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Exercise can be much more appealing when you’re in good company and playing a round of golf with friends is as much a social activity as a workout. Best of all, when it comes to burning kJ, research shows that notching up short periods of activity is just as effective as continuous exercise as long as the total exercise time is the same. This means that even if you’re stopping every few minutes to play a hole you’ll still be getting an effective workout. The average golf course is almost 6km long and even if you’re not having to retrieve your ball from the rough you could walk over 7km during each round. Pull or carry your own clubs and you’ll be burning extra kJ!
Walking aside, golf is an athletic event. The golf swing involves the whole body and puts more of a demand on your back than running or even rowing. Golfers swing the club an average of 100 times in an 18-hole round (including practise swings –they don’t count!) so if you have the correct technique your whole body will get an all over workout.
If you’re playing two or three rounds a week, you’ll be notching up a decent amount of physical activity but you should supplement your training with flexibility and strength work. This will not only improve your game but also help prevent injuries occurring on the course.
Try these exercises twice a week to get you fit for golf!
Walk! As the majority of your time on a golf course is spent walking, this is the best way to improve your cardiovascular fitness for this sport. If you plan to carry your own clubs for a higher-kJ burn, practise by carrying a rucksack containing bottles of water. Start with one and increase as your fitness improves.
Do resistance training to help you hit the ball further
Your arms and shoulders assist with the swinging action of the club and can be strengthened by performing chair dips. The hips, bottom and thighs are also key parts of the movement chain and are of equal importance to execute the swing. Try squats and lunges to strengthen these areas.
Chair dips: Sit on a chair or bench, rest your hands either side of you and place your fingers over the edge. Let your arms take your body weight and slide your bottom off the chair. Position your feet about a metre away from the chair and slowly lower your body down towards the floor. Keep your elbows in tight to your body and pointing backwards.
Squats: Stand with feet hip width apart and fingertips at your temples. Quality is the key. Take your time and squat down as low as you can without lifting your heels off the floor or losing balance.
Strengthen and condition your core with woodchops and crunches
A strong core is essential to transfer power through your body into the golf swing. Good abdominal conditioning will also help prevent the majority of injuries from occurring.
Woodchop: Hold a weight out in front of you with both hands. Keeping your arms straight, take the weight above your right shoulder, then down towards your left hip. Repeat the movement 12-15 times, then change sides and repeat.
Twist and reach: From a basic crunch position, slowly lift your head and shoulders about 15cm. Reach your left hand toward your left foot. Hold for one second, return to the centre and reach to the right. Keeping your head and shoulder off the floor, repeat 10 times on each side and aim for three sets.
Improve your flexibility to develop range of movement and prevent injury
Improving flexibility in the arms, shoulders and back will improve your golf swing as well as reducing your risk of injury when taking a shot. Practice 2-3 times weekly.
Link your fingers together, palms facing away, and push your palms up to the sky. Concentrate on moving your shoulder blades down your back. Hold for a few seconds, then take your arms slightly over to the right, ensuring your hips stay in alignment. Hold for a few seconds, then move to the opposite side.
Point one arm up toward the sky and the other down by your side. Bend each
arm at the elbow and try to link your fingers behind your back. If they don’t reach comfortably, use a belt or another piece of material to hold onto. Concentrate on rolling your top shoulder back and make sure you’re not crunching your head or neck forwards or you could strain your neck.
To improve mobility in the spine, practise the cat stretch. Beginning on all fours with
a flat back, slowly drop both your ‘tail’ and your head so your back begins to round. When you’ve gone as far as you can, begin to move slowly in the opposite direction, taking care not to take your head back too far. Repeat this stretch slowly 6-10 times.
Work on your technique
When it comes to technique, keeping four simple points in mind can make all the difference to your game, says Golf Pro Sam Scott.
If you’re not gripping the club correctly, the ball won’t go where you want it to. Let your hands hang by your sides and look down at your knuckles. The number of knuckles you can see should be the same as when you hold the club.
Imagine you’re standing on a set of train tracks. Your body and feet should be in line with one track with your ball-to-target line on the other. Keep this image in mind as you hit the ball.
Your lower body is the foundation for your golf swing. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, keep the knees flexed and keep hips square. As the upper body turns, the hips should remain square and level. A common fault is to straighten the right knee
at the top of the back swing causing you to lose power, driving distance and club control.
To achieve the correct posture, think of a downhill skier or a goalie saving a penalty. Stand with your knees flexed and weight distributed evenly over your feet. Keep your back straight with your upper body leaning slightly forwards and stick out your bottom.
Top Tips on the course
- -Warm up using flexibility stretches
to prevent injury occurring during a game.
- -Stay well hydrated, before, during and after your round.
- -Protect yourself from the sun with a hat and SPF30+ sunscreen.
- -If you expect to be retrieving your ball from the rough, consider using insect repellent!
- -Finally, don’t over indulge at the infamous 19th hole and undo all your good work!