Enhancing Competitive with Seasonal Training

By Golf Fitness MagazineNovember 8, 2010, 8:18 pm

The following article is written by the strength and conditioning coach for the 10-time NCAA champion, men’s golf team at Oklahoma State University. The insight on how to plan your training around the seasons is very informative for those competitive amateurs. Though the majority of us are not training as competitive amateurs, the information that follows is still very useful for all golfers, especially those that feel the effects of “snow” on their golf game.

I have been working with golfers for 10 years as a physical therapist and athletic trainer, and I continue to be amazed at how the fitness side of golf has evolved. Current PGA tour players have embraced the concept and have revolutionized professional golf. This has drastically changed the perception of fitness in the golf industry.

Although each year my programs change to better suit the needs of my players and their goals, one thing remains the same: playing better golf through better fitness. The difference comes with the increase in focus, demand, intensity and timing applied to each physiologic parameter.

Success in the game of golf requires a higher level of fitness than the average player is prepared for, or even acknowledges. In a single round, a golfer can walk seven to eight thousand yards, the equivalent of four miles or more. This distance alone is a significant task for most people, but when combined with pulling or carrying the weight of a fully loaded golf bag, traversing the inclines and declines of a course, and executing 70 to 100 swings, the physical stress load becomes substantial.

Walking the course does provide some physical fitness benefits that can help your game, but if you ride a cart there is virtually no fitness improvement. It is important for young players who are competitive to embrace walking the course as an avenue for improved fitness.

What steps can an amateur player take to improve his/her game? Purchasing more expensive equipment may make you look better, but it does not necessarily improve your game. Over the years, the national handicap average hasn’t changed much at all, despite the advancements in equipment. Spending more time on the driving range or on the course, is obviously one goal golfers have if they want to improve their game; however, it is often tough to find the time.

Sessions with your golf instructor are also another goal for golfers wanting to improve, however, yet again, lessons need to be reinforced by consistent practice and weather does not always permit that, nor does the hectic schedule of juniors. Even if you were able to take lessons and get out on the course with your new clubs three times a week, if you have not addressed physical fitness deficiencies, your game may not improve to its potential and may actually weaken with each hole throughout a round due to fatigue.

The challenge for the amateur player who has decided to start a physical fitness training program is knowing what to do, and when to start each phase of their program within the year. The most common error people make is starting at a level that is too advanced, and/or focusing on the wrong parameters at the incorrect time of the season.

It appears that a common trend in the conditioning of golfers is that they are often instructed on exercises that they are unable to perform correctly and consistently. The assumption that most golfers (even low handicap golfers) have sufficient core stability is false. Conversely, the assumption that high handicappers have poor core stability is also false.

Like every sport, golf has its different seasons. These seasons may change due to the geographic area in which you live, but there are still times of heavier play and times of lighter play. In order for your specific program to work, there must be emphasis on certain physiologic parameters at different times of the year, or a seasonal routine. The way to emphasize this is to divide your typical year into seasons, or blocks of times based on the amount of time you spend at the golf course.

As a reference, we consider a “recreational golfer’s” off-season (winter) as defined by golfing less than twice a month if at all, pre-season (spring) as one to two times a week, In-season (summer) as two or more times a week, and post-season (fall)as one time a week.

Specific Training For Specific Seasons

As I have explained, during certain times of the year, focus should be on different areas of your golf fitness routine. The following, will list the season and then I will break it down into what area you or the competitive golfer, should be focusing on during that time period.

Off-season is the time of year you should focus your attention on flexibility and strengthening. This is the best time to commit to getting stronger without risking your fitness program and adversely affecting your golf game.

Flexibility refers to tissue’s ability to withstand a stretch. Mobility is your joint’s ability to move through a range of motion. Although these terms differ, they can be used interchangeably in the world of golf. Golfers must possess excellent flexibility and mobility in order to play at a higher level and remain injury free.

A golfer’s ability to move through a greater range with little resistance allows him or her to generate a greater force, which in turn increases power. Good flexibility aids in maintaining good posture throughout the golf swing. The ability to swing through the motion without placing abnormal forces on one area (due to the tightness of your muscles.), will significantly reduce the chance of injury and prolong your golf career.

Strengthening refers to the amount of force a muscle or muscle complex can produce at one moment in time at one point within, or throughout a body part’s range of motion. “Functional strength” plays a major role in your golf game. Functional strength is not determined by how much you can bench press, but by your body’s ability to repeatedly produce force during the performance of any golf skill. The performance edge gained by developing a strong foundation can range from decreasing your risk of injury to helping you get out of the “lies” that your weaker counterparts are unable to do.

In-Season

It is at this time that you begin playing more and that your fitness program should become secondary. Your valuable time should be focused on practice. There are however, a few physiologic parameters that you can work on during this time. This is an excellent time to continue improving or maintaining your flexibility as well as improving your motor control/core stability.

Motor Control/Core Stability is enhanced through anchoring exercises, which are designed to build the functional relationship of each joint to its related muscles. This phenomenon is illustrated by Michael Jordan soaring through the air from the foul line to one of his patented dunks. As Michael makes his way to the hoop, his lower body moves in one direction, his head in another and his arms in yet another.

Have you ever wondered where his anchor is, and from where the movement is initiated? The answer is that as he moves through the air he dynamically stabilizes his center, and using it as the keystone to his movement.

The greater the muscle’s ability to work, separately and collectively with its related joints, increases the body’s ability to maintain correct alignment throughout the performance of any movement pattern, especially throughout a golf swing. This stabilization is started from the center of your body, referred to as your “core.” Core stabilization is vital to the performance of many athletic skills.

The ability to contract your trunk musculature is essential to providing a stable base from which your extremity musculature can pull. Not only is establishing this stable base important from a strength perspective, but also from a motor control perspective. Mastering the ability to instinctively contract your core muscles will significantly improve your chances of being able to replicate your golf swing over and over.

Post-Season

The last season or is one of rest and recovery. However, I feel that flexibility is such a vital component to the program it should be a part of every season including the Post-season.

The key to improving your physiologic parameters such as strength, flexibility, power, balance, motor control/core stability and cardiovascular levels is to receive immediate and consistent feedback. The trick for any golfer is to “put it all together” the same way, at the same place, each and every time, over and over and over again. The consistency comes from an adequate fitness level within each physiologic parameter at the correct time during the golf season. Most golf-conditioning programs neglect these important physiological parameters as well as their link to the “seasons of golf.”

As you can see, golf fitness must be planned based on your volume of play. It is not just a collection of “golf-specific” exercises it is a collection of traditional fitness exercises done at the correct time. This is what makes them “golf-specific exercises.” You now understand the physiologic parameters that your program should consist of and when you should perform the exercises.

Improvements in your physical deficiencies will peak during your highest volume of play; thereby, improving your play through better fitness. Incorporating Seasonal Training into your golf game can lead to better golf as well as a healthier lifestyle.

 

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.