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Fit For Golf

by Kerry E. O’Donoghue
M.S., A.T.C.

How many training aids have you seen
advertised "guaranteeing" a better golf game? When in
reality, you have all you need to improve your game with you right
now!! Whether your aspirations are to tour like Nick Faldo, or to
simply break 100, a simple fitness program will lead to a more
enjoyable golf game and improved overall physical condition.

Golfers today are much more fit than
their counterparts from years past. You have seen Faldo, Phil
Mickelson, David Duval, and of course "Tiger" shoot their
way to the top all with the help of physical conditioning as part of
their golf training program. These golfers, as well as, as a growing
number of professionals incorporate strength training, cardiovascular
fitness, and flexibility into their daily regimens. Imagine what a
little golf specific stretching can do for you. There are several
simple exercises that can be done in the home, at the office, and even
in the car. All you really need is fifteen minutes a day, and the
desire to improve.

The golf swing requires good balance,
stability, and range of motion. When you watch the pros swing, it
looks very smooth, yet strong and very much in balance. Amateur
golfers on the other hand may be missing one, two, or all three of
these physical characteristics. If I were to ask you what your best
shot felt like, you may not even remember it or you might say "I
did not swing very hard, and it just flew!" It is shots like
these that keep us coming back for more.

Balance is the ability to maintain
posture without the urge to fall over. Try this simple test. First,
stand up on both feet, with a chair close by for "balance,"
then close your eyes. You may begin to sway a bit, but after a few
seconds, you will adjust. Now stand on one foot and concentrate on the
bottom of your foot and how the weight shifts. See how difficult this
can be? Simply practicing this activity with a little imagination
(sway back and forth) can improve your balance. Some P.G.A. pros
recommend swinging the golf club on one foot — which can improve your
overall swing balance..

Flexibility is defined as the ability
to move easily throughout a complete range of motion. If you are able
to improve or increase your range of motion as it relates to the golf
swing, you will be able to hit the ball further. Flexibility can be
improved by starting a simple stretching program. Simply touching your
toes and reaching for the ceiling can get you started. Try it — your
muscles should tingle a little bit — that good! For example, stand up
and place your hands on your hips, with your feet straight ahead. Then
twist from your hips to the right and look over your right shoulder.
Repeat to the left. It may seem difficult at first, but will get
easier with time. This exercise will allow you to more easily rotate
your torso and thus lengthen your swing. While at the office you can
push away from the desk, remain seated and grasp your right knee with
both hands and pull towards your chest. Repeat with the left knee.

Muscle control and strength will also
improve your ability to successfully swing the golf club. The swing
incorporates a complex combinations of muscles, and is not easily
repeated. If you start "communicating" with your muscles by
using them in simple exercises you will increase your swing awareness.
For example, in the car, you can begin by squeezing a tennis ball. Do
as many as possible and alternate hands. Another one may be to simply
squeeze the steering wheel for 25 seconds and repeat 10 times. Both of
these exercises will improve muscle strength in your hands, wrists,
forearms, and elbows. Great for those of you that struggle with

The P.G.A. recommends that physical
fitness become part of your off season, pre-season, and in-season golf
program. Why not get started today. Check with your local golf
professional, physical therapist and/or certified Athletic Trainer for