Staying in The Game: Golf Season Begins Well Before Your First Swing

By DR. ROBERT LYNCH

I have looked out the window and I know the golf courses are covered in snow. In order for you to play your best golf this year you need to prepare now; golf season has now begun.

We only have approximately six to eight weeks before the courses open for the season. Now is the time to prepare to walk five to six miles carrying or pushing your golf bag and swinging your club 200 to 300 times a round, including practice swings.

It takes more than the newest driver with a graphite shaft and titanium head the size of a mailbox to shave strokes off your game. This is not enough to beat your friends the next time you play.

All the professional golfers on tour work hard to improve their driving, irons, short game and putting. This is not enough to win on tour. They all work on the most important piece of equipment that they bring to the golf course: their body.

Approximately 20 percent to 25 percent of the population plays golf at least once a year. Statistics show 50 percent of all golfers suffer a golf-related injury. I have seen these injuries to be mild, such as muscle soreness or strain to more severe injuries like back pain, tendinitis, knee pain and plantar fasciitis.

Preparing now for the start of the season will ensure you have a more enjoyable golf experience and a chance to play better golf. Playing in pain is no fun.

As a student of the game I believe injuries occur for a number of reasons. These include deconditioning, loss of flexibility, poor endurance, poor swing mechanics, wrong equipment, improper warm-up, overuse syndrome and hitting “fat shots.”

I have found if you improve your strength and endurance, your flexibility will naturally improve. This will allow you to swing the golf club faster while not swinging it harder.

I strongly recommend that you work with a local PGA teaching professional. They will work on your posture, grip and swing mechanics. They will also make sure you are playing with the right equipment.

This will help you hit the ball farther, reduce injuries and improve your handicap.

I have found too many people getting golf lessons from well-meaning friends on the course. Remember, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Michelle Wie all work with PGA professionals and practice what they learn.

You should, too. Start this golf season with a few lessons and you will be glad you did.

The average woman swings a golf club at 55 mph while the average male swings at 85 mph. The average male touring professional swings at 108 mph, with some as high as 125 mph.

While the amateur swings more slowly than the professional, we put 50 percent more torque on our lower back because of poor swing mechanics and conditioning. This is one reason I have so many golfers with lower back pain.

Women golfers have the same propensity to lower back injuries as men, but they have more wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck injuries. Women tend to swing the club more with their arms than with their legs and hips.

My preseason conditioning program includes aerobic activity such as running, cycling, swimming and elliptical machine. I also recommend yoga for muscle tone and flexibility. I love physio balls to improve flexibility, strength and balance.

I recommend that golfers concentrate on their legs, hips and their core, which includes your abdomen and lower back. This is where your power and endurance is generated.

I have found when you do a preseason conditioning program while working with your PGA pro, it will result in a long, smooth, powerful golf swing.

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