Some quick tips for improving golf flexibility

DumbbellBy now it is common knowledge that improving flexibility will enhance golf performance. There are numerous programs (“golf-specific flexibility,” “yoga for golf,”) available. The problem with many of these programs is they address only static flexibility, which is great if you have some serious muscle tightness. What they do not address is the issue of functional flexibility (the ability to move through all planes of motion/direction while maintaining muscular control).

Golf requires a high level of functional flexibility. In order to swing a golf club, the hips, trunk and shoulders must move through extreme ranges of motion. Not only that, but the muscles of each body segment are required to work in conjunction, from the address to the follow-through, to produce a golf swing that is true, accurate, and powerful. Because flexibility is a foundational physical ability in golf, it only seems prudent to address flexibility with dynamic exercises that are specific to the movements required by golf.

Here are four dynamic exercises to improve flexibility:

Dumbbell PNF Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (shoulder flexibility/stability)

Total Body Extension (total body flexibility)

Pick-up and Rotate (trunk and hip flexibility)

Lunge with Rotation (trunk and hip flexibility)

Medicine Ball In some of the pictures, you see me using a medicine ball or a dumbbell. If you are unable to use these pieces of equipment, don’t worry. Spend some time perfecting your form using just your body weight and then add some resistance. Possible options are a can of soup, water bottle, or a small child if you are really feeling good (just kidding!).

Exercise Protocol: Two sets of 10-15 repetitions of each exercise every day. Increase your resistance only after you have perfected each movement.

Note: On Pick-up and Rotate and Lunge with Rotation be sure to perform equal numbers of repetitions both directions.

Tips for making the exercises more effective:

• Always stand with good posture.

• Always slightly retract and depress your shoulders (press them down and back. Maintain this position throughout the movement.

Pick-up and Rotate • Practice the “Drawing-In Maneuver.” This is a function of the inner musculature of the torso, the Inner Unit muscles. One of the Inner Unit’s main functions is to stiffen the torso in preparation for work, e.g., lifting weights. The easiest way to learn to perform the “Drawing-in Maneuver” is to lie flat on your back, relax, and perform diaphragmatic breathing. When done properly, your stomach should rise when you inhale and fall when you exhale. When your stomach falls, you want to hold that contraction. This is the most basic form of the “Drawing-in Maneuver.”

• Always to try to maintain a neutral spinal curvature, meaning that you are neither over-arching or rounding your back.

• Always to try to keep your knees in line with the center of your feet. Don’t let your knees cave in or bow out.

• Start with no weight and perfect the movement, then choose a VERY light weight.

So there you have it. Four dynamic exercises for golf-specific functional flexibility that will have you well on your way to shooting lower scores! Enjoy.

Note:

Pick-up and RotateBefore beginning any exercise or dietary program, consult with your physician to ensure that you are in proper health and that any exercise or dietary program you undertake will not put you at risk.

Troy M. Anderson, B.A., PES, CPT, IACPFT, is the owner of Integrated Evolution, LLC, in Tempe, AZ. The No. 1 goal of Integrated Evolution is to provide individuals with solutions to their performance enhancement needs. For more golf fitness tips, subscribe to The Evolutionary at integratedevolution.org and download your FREE Reports. The Eight Keys To Golf Fitness Success and How To Build The Perfect Athlete For Any Sport – GOLF. Troy may be contacted at integratedevolution@cox.net or called at (480) 227-8090.

Don’t be intimidated by the basics of golf

Reflection Bay

One of the reasons that golf is such a great game is the etiquette that players show each other as well as the golf course. Ryder Cup histrionics aside, you won’t see any serious golfer spike his ball after holing a long putt or trash-talking after a good drive. In a world full of Joe Horns and Terrell Owenses, the sportsmanship of golf is a breath of fresh air. This is a review of the basic golf etiquette that all golfers need to remember.

Respect Other Players

When another player in your group is getting ready to hit a shot there a few things to remember:

Be quiet
Stand still
Be far enough away that you won’t get hit by their swing
Be behind the player, but at an angle so they can see where you are

Keep play moving

There are a couple of things that you can do that will help your whole group play faster:

If you’re farthest from the hole, remember you are going to hit first.

Don’t daydream! Be ready to hit when it’s your turn. Know your yardage and what club to hit, take one practice swing, and get in position to hit while the other player in your group is hitting.

Once everyone in your group has finished the hole, add up the scores on the next tee box.

Place your golf bags on the way to the next tee, not in front of the green your putting on.

Keep an eye on the group in front of you. If you start falling behind them, pick up the pace a bit so you don’t hold up the next group.

The greens

The greens are the best part of the golf course and the hardest to maintain. Here are a few tips that will keep the greens looking good:

Find your ball mark and repair it. This will keep the green rolling flat.

Don’t drag your feet.

Watch other players putting line and go around them.

Never use your putter to take the ball out of the hole, use your hand.

Lay the flagstick down gently, hopefully on the fringe and away from other players putting lines.

Lastly, remember these two things after completing a shot.

Replace your divots or fill the hole with sand or seed mix.

Rake the bunkers.

If all players remember these simple things, the course will stay well-kept, and everyone’s round will move along at a nice pace.

Facts and fallacies of strength training for golf

Strength training

Various aspects of golf training have expanded rapidly, but one area of development that has caught on somewhat slowly is golf-specific strength training. This specific need had not been addressed until very recently.

As with many things, it started at the top with pros like Tiger Woods and David Duval and began to trickle down to the masses over time. Unfortunately, many golfers still live under the old assumption that strength training is detrimental to your game. The truth is that the days of simply practicing and playing to make yourself a stronger and better golfer are from a bygone era. Ultimately, golf skills are the most important aspect of golf, but improving your swing performance will only get you so far. If you want to develop into the best player you can be, you better get with the program – a strength-training program.

Let’s take a look at a few of the fallacies that may be holding some of you back from beginning a strength-training program.

Fallacy No. 1: Resistance training will cause a loss of flexibility.

Fact: Full range of motion resistance training will actually improve your flexibility.

Fallacy No. 2: Resistance training will result in “bulking up.”

Fact: Performing resistance training by itself will not cause the development of excess muscle mass; additional caloric intake is also required. Some individuals are under the impression that lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions will cause this “bulking-up” phenomenon. This is also false. As a matter of fact, lifting heavier weights for fewer repetition is one way to gain strength without adding “bulk.” Therefore, if you are involved in a program designed to develop stability, strength and power specific to the needs of golf, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Fallacy No. 3: Resistance training will have adverse effects on your swing.

Fact: Resistance training can actually have a positive effect on your swing because it helps develop what is known as kinesthetic awareness, the ability to detect body position, weight and movement of the muscles, tendons and joints.

Fallacy No. 4: Swinging a weighted club will produce more specific strength gains than performing a resistance-training program.

Fact: If anything, swinging a weighted club will produce an improper swing. The compensation required to swing the weighted club creates faulty swing mechanics and firing patterns. Also, most weighted club programs call for swinging the clubs at slow speeds. The problem with that is when golfers tee up, they are not trying to drive the ball with a 50 percent to 75 percent swing. They want to all-out blast it down the fairway with a powerful 100 percent swing. If the name of the game for golfers is club head SPEED, using a heavy club and a slow swing to gain strength won’t work. To gain strength and develop speed, you have to train for speed.

Fallacy No. 5: It takes too much time.

Fact: You can’t afford not to start a golf-specific flexibility, strength and conditioning program if you want to be the best golfer you can be. Depending on your individual starting point, you may be able to make progress by training as little as a 1½ hours per week. It is a small investment that will reap huge dividends on the course.

Hopefully, reading this article has shed some light on the benefits of strength training for golf and has helped you understand that it is NOT detrimental to your game, but, more than likely, it is very beneficial.

Tips on how to get your child started playing the game of golf

Entrada Course

The game of golf is experiencing a “boom” of new life as youth are discovering the excitement of a day at the course. New facilities that offer children affordable access to play the game are being constructed throughout the country and the world. How can parents attract their youngsters to play this “game for a lifetime?” (Tip: Do not show them old photos of Hale Irwin’s plaid slacks.)

Seriously, your son or daughter might approach you one day and express an interest in learning to play golf. You may have to work some to cultivate that interest in them, but it will be worth the effort because the qualities that golf embodies are the very same ones you want your children to have: respect, courtesy, honesty, diligence, and abundant expendable income.

One of the keys to getting your child interested in golf is finding a program that they enjoy participating in. Select a program that nurtures their interest and stresses having fun. A visit to juniorlinks.com is a way to find out what programs are available in your area. Other information sources may be your local recreation department or your local PGA Professional. Many schools also have golf programs and these are a great way for the serious junior golfer to develop his or her interest.

Ultimately, parents are the catalyst to the growth of their child’s interest in golf. A visit to the driving range where your child and you can spend time together is an excellent way to get started. Invite some of your child’s friends along so that they associate golf with FUN. Unless you are qualified to teach, don’t worry too much about instructing your child. Just make sure that he or she gets an opportunity to hit some balls and enjoy the exercise. (Tip: It’s always fun to try to hit the ball-shagging cart.)

Once a strong foundation has been developed, a visit to your local course or par-3 course is warranted. Try to play in non-peak hours so that your child is not subject to the pressures of pace of play requirements of a busy facility.

Children learn by imitation, so encourage watching a PGA or LPGA event on TV (just turn the volume down if Tiger’s having a bad day). If you should have a tour event in your local area, go to the course. The crowds and excitement of big time golf are great magnets for a young person’s imagination.

Many recreation departments and most public golf facilities offer junior programs (usually in the summer months). One advantage of utilizing these programs is the social interaction that your child experiences with the other children in the clinic. Kids learn that golf is a social game played by rules of conduct and proper etiquette.

For advanced juniors who show an interest, junior tournaments are a great way to test their skills. It is important that participation in tournaments is the child’s idea. Access and encouragement are two important things that parents can provide to their children to help them learn and enjoy golf.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a golf camp

TPC Scottsdale

With the growth of junior golf over the past few years, more and more junior golf schools are popping up all over the country. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a camp that is right for your child. Try to keep in mind the five “F”s of a junior golf school. These are Facility, Faculty, Fun, Financials and Future.

Facility

Look to see where the school is held. Proximity to your home is a consideration but not always the No. 1 priority. If the school is out of town, determine how far of a drive it is to the school, and whether it is near a major city. Most camps will pick up campers that fly in at a nearby airport. Most schools are held on school campuses, be it a college or a prep school. The better camps are held at schools that have a 9-hole golf course and driving range on campus. There are a couple of advantages to going to a school with a golf course and driving range at the facility. First of all, the students get much more practice time and playing time on the course. The less time the campers spend being shuttled to the driving range and course, the more instruction time they receive.

Secondly, if the camp has a golf course right there, students can spend their free time practicing on their own. Spending an hour of free time chipping and putting with fellow campers is a great way to practice what they just learned. The second factor to consider is living arrangements. This factor obviously applies to overnight-campers, not day-campers. Check to see where the campers will be staying and eating. Many schools have nice dorm facilities to stay in and nice dining halls to have meals, but check to be sure. You don’t want your kids dining on the moles and gophers trapped by the greenkeeper.

The last thing to take into consideration is the other activities the facility offers. As much as a junior golfers loves the game, they will eventually need a break and do other activities. Most camps offer some options in the afternoon after the instruction is finished. Make sure the camp facility has the capability to offer options. A pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, fitness room are just a few things options that should be open to the campers during down time. Don’t forget to ask about indoor activity options as well – in case of rain.

Faculty

First thing to look for is to see what the ratio is of staff to campers. For a golf camp a ratio of 5 to1 is very good. With this ratio you’ll know that the juniors are getting good instruction and the teaching environment is safe. Next, look and see who makes up the faculty. What is the staff’s background? Do they have camp experience? Have they worked with kids in the past? Do they have junior golf experience? Are there PGA/LPGA Professionals running the program? Are the counselors college players? Quality camps will have people with a lot of junior golf experience doing the instruction.

Lastly check the school curriculum. What is the program of instruction and does it work with each junior at his/her own level? Does the instructional program cover all aspects of the game and have a proven track record? Is there a specific program for college bound players?

Fun

No matter how serious the golfer or school, you can’t forget the fun factor. Many junior golfers now go to camp for two and four weeks at a time and if it’s not fun, it can negatively impact their future desire to play the game. This goes back to the staff and facility. Is there a place in the program that the golfers can relax and let loose? Is there flexibility in the schedule for options that use the other aspect of the school’s facility? Many schools have weekend trips that visit local attractions. Trips to amusement parks and baseball games can break up the instruction and bring the juniors back to camp fresh. The quality of supervision is again key here. We can all think of additional “Fs” we do not want our kids to remember golf camp for.

(Like “food-fights.” Why? What were you thinking of?)

Financials

Overnight camps vary in cost based on length of stay and program offerings. The typical range is from $800 to $1,400 per week. The day-camper fee is lower by 30-50 percent. In other words, this had better be something both parent and child is committed to. If not, save the money for the kid’s college fund.

Future

The better junior golf schools send their students away with a plan for the future. Ask to see what kind of take home package each junior receives. Are there things for each student to work on we he/she gets home and the instructors aren’t there? Make sure the school is going to be held the next summer, so students can come back and see the same instructors. Also make it point to get contact information from instructors so your junior golfers can keep in touch and get help with their game at home.

Keep these few tips in mind when choosing a junior golf camp and your junior golfer will find a school where they can not only learn a lot about the game of golf, but even more importantly have a lot fun.

Here are the junior events, tournaments that will get you noticed

Pebble Beach

In the past 10 years, the number of junior golf events in the United States has doubled each year. Junior golfers at any age now have many opportunities to play competitively. The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) has been the leader and most competitive junior golf tournament series for the past 20 years. With alumni like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Grace Park, and Jenna Daniels, it’s easy to see why the AJGA is known for producing strong players.

A recent survey showed that 98 percent of AJGA players went on to college and nearly 75 percent of the players received some type of athletic scholarship. It’s clear that the best juniors in the country are playing in AJGA events. If you play at that level, college coaches will come find you. The main thing to remember is that not all college players played in the AJGA and there are a lot of other tournaments that will get you noticed.

For new junior golfers, the place to start is at the local level. Hopefully, your local golf course has a junior golf program where kids can get some basic instruction and competition. There are also many golf camps and schools where juniors can go and get instruction as well as some competition with other junior golfers from all over the country.

Once the junior golfer has received some instruction and is ready to start playing some tournaments, look locally for some events. A good place to start is your city or county. There are more and more junior golf tournament associations popping up all over the country. Hopefully there is one within driving distance (car, not golf ball-though if your kid does hit the ball that far, run don’t walk to the next event).

After having some success at the local level, it’s time for the junior to move on to the regional and state level. Each state has a state golf association. These associations run junior events. Another good regional tournament association is the PGA of America’s section offices. Each section of the PGA runs a strong tournament program. If a junior is fortunate enough to have some success at the regional level, the next step is some national events.

Here is a list of regional and national golf associations that college coaches consider strong tournaments:

Regional

PGA of America Sections (pga.com)
State Golf Associations
Regional Golf Associations’ Junior Championships
City Championships
High School Tournaments & State Championships
Local Country Club Inter Club Matches

National

United States Golf Association (usga.org)
American Junior Golf Association (www.ajga.org)
Future Collegians World Tour (fcwtgolf.com)
International Junior Golf Tour (ijgt.com)
Nike Winternational Junior Series of Golf (nikejuniorgolf.com)
PGA Junior Series (pga.com)
Plantations Junior Golf Tour (pjgt.com)
Power-bilt Junior Tour (juniorgolf.org)
Southeastern Junior Golf Tour (sjgt.com)
“The Junior Tour” (thejuniortour.com)

There is also a good Web site that lists many of the local and regional junior events in each state: juniorgolfscoreboard.com.

The following guide is simply to help parents and juniors determine what level of play each player is ready for:

Level 1 – Local Level Tournaments
Tournament 18 Hole Scoring Average Local Golf Course & CCs
Boys – 110 & below City and County Associations
Girls – 125 & below

Level 2 – State and Regional Tournaments
Tournament 18 Hole Scoring Average State Golf Associations
Boys – 89 & below PGA Sections
Girls – 95 &below High School Championships

Level 3 – National Events Tournaments
Tournament 18 Hole Scoring Average USGA Junior Events
Boys – 78 & below National Events such as AJGA
Girls – 84 & below

Don’t be intimidated by the basics of golf

Reflection Bay

One of the reasons that golf is such a great game is the etiquette that players show each other as well as the golf course. Ryder Cup histrionics aside, you won’t see any serious golfer spike his ball after holing a long putt or trash-talking after a good drive. In a world full of Joe Horns and Terrell Owenses, the sportsmanship of golf is a breath of fresh air. This is a review of the basic golf etiquette that all golfers need to remember.

Respect Other Players

When another player in your group is getting ready to hit a shot there a few things to remember:

Be quiet
Stand still
Be far enough away that you won’t get hit by their swing
Be behind the player, but at an angle so they can see where you are

Keep play moving

There are a couple of things that you can do that will help your whole group play faster:

If you’re farthest from the hole, remember you are going to hit first.

Don’t daydream! Be ready to hit when it’s your turn. Know your yardage and what club to hit, take one practice swing, and get in position to hit while the other player in your group is hitting.

Once everyone in your group has finished the hole, add up the scores on the next tee box.

Place your golf bags on the way to the next tee, not in front of the green your putting on.

Keep an eye on the group in front of you. If you start falling behind them, pick up the pace a bit so you don’t hold up the next group.

The greens

The greens are the best part of the golf course and the hardest to maintain. Here are a few tips that will keep the greens looking good:

Find your ball mark and repair it. This will keep the green rolling flat.

Don’t drag your feet.

Watch other players putting line and go around them.

Never use your putter to take the ball out of the hole, use your hand.

Lay the flagstick down gently, hopefully on the fringe and away from other players putting lines.

Lastly, remember these two things after completing a shot.

Replace your divots or fill the hole with sand or seed mix.

Rake the bunkers.

If all players remember these simple things, the course will stay well-kept, and everyone’s round will move along at a nice pace.

Golf lesson: Overcoming fairway wood phobia is easy with practice

Have you ever noticed that the most demanding shot, the fairway wood, is generally the most commonly used in women’s golf? This means that to score well, you will need to be relatively proficient with your fairway woods. To make these shots even harder, many of the finer golf courses cut the fairway grass very short, also requiring more a more precise golf swing.

Here are some suggestions to improving your fairway woods:

Check you ball position

Your ball position for a fairway wood should be just left of the center of your stance, or in line with the left logo on your shirt. Notice this is not as far left as your ball position would be if you were hitting a wood from a tee. This places the ball in the flatter part of the golf swing and should make it easier to sweep the ball off of the turf.

Use a more lofted fairway wood

Do you remember when Callaway came out with the Heavenwood? It was basically a 7 wood with a longer shaft. The 7 wood is a very friendly fairway wood that should still provide you with respectable distance, but the club’s added loft and not overly long shaft make it easier to experience more success. Choose a fairway wood that you can actually have success and for the little bit of distance you might sacrifice; you will probably gain right back in your increased consistency.

Be sure that your practice swings sweep the grass

Fairway Woods

Your practice swing should sweep the grass. If your practice swing does not sweep the grass, you are in essence practicing topping the ball, and you should take another until you do brush the turf. My preference is that if you do take a practice swing, you only take one. So if missing the turf and re-swinging becomes a constant occurrence, actually practice your practice swings. A great goal is to be able to take 10 practice swings in a row that sweep the grass.

Try the scrape drill

A great drill to help improve contact for fairway woods is the scrape drill. You will do this without a golf ball. Start in your address position and take no backswing. Practice scraping the grass toward the target on a slight semi-circle to the left for about 12 to 18 inches. The club head should be low to the ground like on a normal fairway wood shot, so this will help you to feel the proper motion.

Make the most of your practice time

I know it is difficult to find enough hours in the day, let alone find some extra time to practice golf. But with a little time here and there and a plan of attack for your practice, you can improve. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your time.

Practice golf at home

There are a lot of things you can improve without the use of a practice range or a golf ball. One of the most difficult changes is the way you hold the golf club. This is better practiced away from the golf ball. Keep a club at home and practice placing your hands correctly on the club ten times. Repeat this five times a week and before you know it a proper grip will start to feel comfortable.

Have a specific goal

From my experience, the better the golfer the more specific they are with what they are attempting to accomplish during their practice. Rather than just going out to hit balls, picking a specific goal over time will help you to improve. For example, if you tend to top the ball, you may choose to work on clipping out the tee under the ball or sweeping the grass for the next three months. By choosing a specific issue, rather than skipping around, you are more likely to make a change that will have life long benefits.

The magic 10 minutes

Find 10 minutes here and there to work on the shot that causes you the most trouble. If you don’t like the bunker, make yourself practice for 10 minutes in the bunker. It may not sound like a long time and it isn’t, but this small commitment to your weakness will require you to pay attention to it.

Make your practice time fun

It can make practice time so much more fun if you have the right attitude. Trying to get pitch shots to land into a bucket, can help to focus your practice and provide the wonder feeling of accomplishment and fun when the ball does land and stay in the bucket. Or practice with a friend. By adding a social element, you may find that time goes much faster and is more enjoyable.

Add quality goals to your practice

Rather than just practicing randomly, you may find your practice can replicate on course situations if you add quality goals. An example would be to try to sink twenty three-foot putts in a row. Rather than just putting with no repercussion for a missed putt, the added pressure of having to complete a certain number in a row will help you to perform better during your play on the course.

Proper practice will help you to improve your golf, but you must have specific objectives in mind, rather than just exercising. You may want to keep small notes on your scorecard when you play to help you focus on the right areas. Have a plan, so that when you do have the time, it will be productive.

A three-step plan for curing your slice

Are you tired of slicing yet? I know they say that a high percentage of golfers slice, but my students do not.

I strongly dislike a slice.

How frustrating to have even your best shots robbed of power and distance by having an open club face at impact?

Work on the following three check points to turn your slice into a powerful draw …

1. Assure the proper golf grip

Your grip controls your club face at impact. If you want to hit your golf ball relatively straight, you really must have a good grip.

A good grip for a right-handed golfer involves being able to see the logo on your left-hand glove or, in other words, two to three knuckles. The more you turn your hands to the right, and yes I mean both, the less likely you are to slice. I do not mind going to extremes in order to accomplish the desired ball flight.

It is okay to see the finger nails of your right hand at address, as your right hand is more under the golf club. The more you turn your hands to the right at address, the easier it will be to allow the club face to release, where the toe of the club can pass the heel on the forward swing.

2. Allow your shoulders to coil on your backswing

When you make your backswing, your left underarm should swing across your chest in a lightly connected position. This will help you to keep your club face square to the path and also prompt your shoulders to turn.

Ideally, we are looking for your shoulders to turn back approximately 90 degrees. If you need to flair your right foot to compensate for a lack of flexibility, feel free to do so.

This shoulder rotation will allow the club to approach the golf ball from the proper path, promoting straighter ball flight.

3. Release

Release is a golf term that means you should allow the toe of the club to pass the heel on your forward swing. This allows the club face to square and then close.

Your right arm should be allowed to become level with your left arm and then eventually pass over top of the left, much like that of a baseball player.

I also do not mind this being over done in an effort to get rid of a slice.

To get rid of your slice, try the above tips and do not be afraid to over-do the corrections in the beginning. If your golf ball starts to hook, you can adjust from there.

A strong grip, good shoulder rotation and forearm release will help you to hit the ball more squarely and farther. And it is so much more fun to play good golf and hit the ball farther!