Getting a Grip on Wrist Injuries

By Golf Fitness MagazineNovember 6, 2008, 5:00 pm
A wrist injury can be devastating for a professional golfer. Phil Mickelson had to withdraw from several tournaments this past year because of a lingering left wrist injury he sustained playing a practice round at Oakmont CC, the site of the 2007 US Open. The left-hander failed to contend seriously in any of the four major championships, because of the nagging wrist.
 
Wrist injuries are common among golfers and normally occur at the moment of impact of the club with the ball. Teen golfer Michelle Wie also had a disappointing year on the LPGA Tour because of a similar injury to her right wrist. Wie hit a shot off a cart path during the womens Samsung World Championship in 2006, the injury caused her to withdraw from many tournaments and lead to a disappointing year in 2007.
 
Because the grip is the bodys sole connection to a golf club, wrist action is a critical part of the swing. The repetitive motions of golf and the high speed of the typical golf swing, however, place wrists at a high risk for injury. To begin with, lets look at symptoms one might experience with an injured wrist.
 
1. Hot Sensation in the wrist.
 
2. Swelling in the wrist after playing a round or practice.
 
3. Wrist feels stiff and normal movements such as opening jars, carrying luggage or shaking hands are painful the day after a round of golf or practice.
 
4. Finding a small lump on the back on the wrist commonly known as a ganglion.
 
5. Pressure on the top of the wrist that causes severe pain.
 
6. Weakness in wrist and hand that increases with time.
 
7. Severe pain in wrist and hand that leads to use of non-dominate wrist and hand.
 
8. Increased apprehension and anxiety when using hand on a daily basis. Normal activity such as turning a door handle, picking up a golf bag and teeing up a golf bag cause pain and discomfort.
 
9. Quitting on golf shots at impact and to make a complete golf swing.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms before, during or after, your golf game, the next step is to get a proper diagnosis from your physician'this area of the body is very complex! An MRI is essential to locate the injury and determine whether it is tendons, bone, ligaments, nerves, joints etc. You must have a physicians diagnosois in order to properly treat your symptoms and to get the proper rehabilitation.
 
Many golfers that suffer from wrist injuries have experienced a past injury to the wrist or forearm. These golfers are extremely likely to suffer a recurrence of wrist pain. Prolonged wrist injuries that are not treated can lead to more serious permanent damage in the underlying structure of the wrist such as the joint discs or ligaments.
 
Many of the structures that are damaged in wrist injuries, are not seen with a plain x-ray. That is why diagnosis from a physician and an MRI are so vitally important when it comes to this type of injury.
 
After you have confirmed your diagnosis, there are several ways in which you and your physical therapist, or physician can work together to rehabilitate your injury.
 
However, one must note, that many wrist injuries, as well as any other golf-related injuries, can be prevented by a pre-season and year-round, golf-specific conditioning program. The following are some of the ways in which wrist injuries are commonly treated after proper diagnosis has been made:
 
rest and ice
muscular strengthening, flexibility exercises
a short, practical, pre-game warm-up routine
the adjustment of an individuals golf swing to meet their physical capacities and limitations through properly supervised golf lessons
the correct selection of golf equipment and an awareness of the environmental conditions
on-going physical therapy in which your team of therapists, physicians, your instructor and yourself work together to diagnose, treat, and repair.
 
So we have evaluated your symptoms, and informed you on some of the less complex treatments that are common for treating wrist injuries, howewever, the question still exists-how did this injury happen? The following is a detailed list of how most golf related wrist injuries occur.
 
The Risk Factors for Wrist Injury:
 
1. Poor Neck Posture and Muscle Control
The body as a system is quite versatile in adjusting to adverse situations. Poor posture and lack of muscle control can easily lead to compensations in the golf swing. Instead of using large muscle groups to create power in the swing, someone with poor neck posture and muscle control may compensate by flicking the wrists and trying to help the ball up in the air putting strain on the smaller muscles in the hands and wrists.
 
2. Prolonged Sitting then Excessive Practice Ball Bashing
Prolonged periods of inactivity followed by excessive periods of physical activity like ball striking are a prescription for injury. Warming up and cooling down and consistent moderate activity are extremely important in reducing the risk of muscle and joint injuries especially in the smaller muscles of the wrists.
 
3. Overuse of Small Muscle Groups
This causes fatigue. As with poor neck posture and weak muscle control, if you have weak shoulders you tend to use other muscles to compensate for the lack of strength and control. If the body cannot stabilize during a swing, other parts of the body like the wrists will be overused and injured.
 
4. Over-Cocking of the Wrists
All good players have one position in the golf swing thats similar despite their very different-looking swings. This position is impact. Good players retain their wrist-cock through the hitting area so that their left wrist is bowed and the right wrist is flexed (for right-handed golfers), and both hands are slightly in front of the golf ball at the strike.
 
High-handicappers tend to do the opposite at impact. Instead of a late hit, they actually execute whats called an early release. They scoop the ball at impact because they lose the lag too early in the downswing.
 
Instead of having a bowed left wrist and their hands ahead of the ball at impact, they have a collapsed left wrist and their hands are behind the ball. As such, they put a tremendous amount of pressure on the muscles and tendons on the wrists that could lead to injury.
 
A player may damage their left wrist in attempt to overdo the bowed left wrist at impact. Learning correct mechanics will help prevent injuries.
 
5. Poor Swing Technique
A steep angle of attack on the ball at impact causes the leading wrist to dorsiflex or extend. As this happens, the elbows flexor muscles are stretched excessively. If the golfer hits the ground first (a fat shot), at the moment of impact, the trauma may damage the tendons and muscles.
Many high-handicappers decelerate at the moment of impact to help the ball up in the air. This maneuver puts a tremendous amount of strain on tendons. The result is the lead arm looking like a chicken wing and a weak golf shot.
 
6. Excessive Ball Bashing Resulting in Poor Technique and Wrist Fatigue, Then Eventual Injury of the Wrist Region
Generally, the more often you play, the higher your risk of injury. Golfers who spend more than six hours per week playing golf are at increased risk of overuse injuries. Practice habits contribute significantly. The onset of club championships or a new years resolution to improve your game may increase your predisposition to injury
 
7. Playing on Poor Quality Driving Range Mats or Heavy Rough Causing Direct Traumatic Trauma
Hitting balls off rubber mats or hard surfaces will increase the likelihood of a wrist injury.
 
The constant pounding on the wrists combined with poor swing technique can cause strain of the muscles. Improper swing technique dramatically increases the risk of injury. Golfers who swing correctly and smoothly are less likely to hurt themselves.
 
Hitting out of heavy rough, buried lies or making contact with immovable surfaces (tree roots and rocks) may also lead to injury. Phil Mickelsons wrist injury was caused from hitting a shot out of rough during a practice round for the US Open. As the clubhead approaches impact, the grass wraps around the clubhead and stops the clubhead from sliding through the grass.
 
If you do not break up your long game, practice, train excessively on unforgiving surfaces, hit out of the rough or buried lies, or make contact with immovable structures (tree roots and rocks), you will decrease your likelihood of wrist pain.
 
8. Poor Predisposing Power and Functional Grip in the Weak Golfer
The golfer cannot maintain good muscle function in the hand itself even with simple things like lifting bags or opening a jar. What happens at the point of impact determines trajectory, the direction and the distance the ball flies. The interaction between clubface and ball rests largely upon the strength of the wrists. If a golfer has weak grip strength, then they are at greater risk for injury while playing golf.
 
In conclusion, there are many different strenghthening excercises and stretches that can be done prior to play that can help prevent the golfer from injury. These excercises and stretches can be invaluable when it comes to protecting your wrist and even improving your golf game.
 

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LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”

For Ariya, Lexi, finish was fabulous, frustrating

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 12:47 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lexi Thompson can take a punch.

You have to give her that.

So can Ariya Jutanugarn, who beat Thompson in the gut-wrenching conclusion to the CME Group Tour Championship Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

They both distinguished themselves overcoming adversity this season.

The problem for Thompson now is that she’ll have to wait two months to show her resolve again. She will go into the long offseason with the memory of missing a 2-foot putt for par that could have won her the championship, her first Rolex Player of the Year Award and her first Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Thompson took home the CME Globe $1 million jackpot and Vare Trophy for low scoring as nice consolation prizes, but the Sunday finish was a lot like her season.

It was so close to being spectacular.

She was so close to dominating this year.

That last 2-foot putt Sunday would have put Thompson in the clubhouse at 15 under, with a one-shot lead, which would have added so much more pressure to Jutanugarn as she closed out.

Instead of needing to birdie the final two holes to force a playoff, Jutanugarn only needed to birdie one of them to assure extra holes. She went birdie-birdie anyway.

Thompson was on the practice putting green when she heard the day’s last roar, when Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-foot birdie to beat her.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it,” Thompson said of the short miss. “I don’t really know what happened there. It just happens. I guess it’s golf.”


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Thompson was asked if the weight of everything at stake affected her.

“No, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said. “I putted great the whole day. I guess, maybe, there was just a little bit of adrenaline.

“We all go through situations we don’t like sometimes.”

Thompson endured more than she wanted this year.

She won twice, but there were six second-place finishes, including Sunday’s. There were three losses in playoffs.

There was the heart-wrenching blow at the ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major, when she looked as if she were going to run away with the title before getting blindsided by a four-shot penalty in the final round. There were two shots when a viewer email led to a penalty for mismarking her ball on a green in the third round, and two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Thompson was in tears finishing that Sunday at Mission Hills, but she won a legion of new fans in the way she fought back before losing in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

There was more heartache later in the spring, when Thompson’s mother, Judy, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, requiring surgery to remove a tumor and then radiation.

For Thompson fans, Sunday’s missed 2-foot putt was a cruel final blow to the year.

This time, there were no tears from Lexi afterward.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds . . . it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said. “This won’t either.”

After Thompson bounced back from the ANA loss to win the Kingsmill Invitational in May, she acknowledged how the loss motivated her.

“I'm as determined as any other person out here,” Thompson said. “We all want to win. I have a little bit more drive now.”

She was so close this year to elevating herself as the one true rock star in the women’s game. She will have a long offseason to turn Sunday’s disappointment into yet more fuel to get there.

Thompson will prepare for next year knowing Jutanugarn may be ramping her game back up to dominante, too.

Jutanugarn looked as if she were going to become a rock star after winning five times last year to claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award and then rising to No. 1 with a victory at the Manulife Classic back in May, but it didn’t happen.

Jutanugarn struggled through a summer-long slump.

She failed to make a cut in six of seven starts. It wasn’t as miserable a slump as she endured two years ago, when she missed 10 consecutive cuts, but it was troubling.

“Even though I played so badly the last few months, I learned a lot,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m growing up a lot, and I’m really ready to have some fun next year.”

Her surgically repaired shoulder was bothering her again, but it was more than that.

“This time it was more about becoming No. 1,” said Gary Gilchrist, her coach. “I think all of the responsibilities got to her.”

Gilchrist said he could see a different focus in Jutanugarn this week. He credited Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott for helping her deal with all the pressure that has mounted with her growing status.

“It’s been a long process,” Nilsson said. “She’s felt too much expectation from everybody else, where she loses focus on what she can do.”

Marriott said they asked Jutanugarn to come up with something she wanted to do to make herself proud this week, instead of worrying about what would please everyone else.

It worked.

“I told my caddie, Les [Luark], that thinking about the No. 1 ranking wasn’t going to help me be a better golfer,” Jutanugarn said. “I wanted people to say, `Oh this girl, she’s really happy.’ That was my goal, to have fun.”

Late Sunday, hoisting the trophy, Jutanugarn looked like she was having a lot of fun.

Thomas vs. Rose could be Ryder Cup highlight

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:40 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For those still digesting the end of 2017 – the European Tour did, after all, just wrap up its season in Dubai on Sunday – consider that the PGA Tour is already nearly one-fifth of the way into a new edition.

The Tour has already crowned eight champions as the game banks into the winter break, and there are some interesting trends that have emerged from the fall.

Dueling Justins: While Justin Thomas picked up where he left off last season, winning the inaugural CJ Cup in October just three weeks after claiming the FedExCup and wrapping up Player of the Year honors; Justin Rose seems poised to challenge for next year’s low Justin honors.

The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since August and won back-to-back starts (WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open) before closing his year with a tie for fourth place in Dubai.

Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Justin v. Justin next September in Paris could be fun.

Youth served. Just in case anyone was thinking the pendulum might be swinging back in the direction of experience over youthful exuberance – 41-year-old Pat Perez did put the veterans on the board this season with his victory at the CIMB Classic – Patrick Cantlay solidified his spot as genuine phenom.

Following an injury-plagued start to his career, Cantlay got back on track this year, needing just a dozen starts to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went next level earlier this month with his playoff victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


They say these trends come and go in professional golf, but as the average age of winners continues to trend lower and lower it’s safe to say 25 is the new 35 on Tour.

A feel for it. For all the science that has become such a big part of the game – from TrackMan analysis to ShotLink statistics – it was refreshing to hear that Patton Kizzire’s breakthrough victory at the OHL Classic came down to a hunch.

With the tournament on the line and Rickie Fowler poised just a stroke back, Kizzire’s tee shot at the 72nd hole came to rest in an awkward spot that forced him to stand close to his approach shot to keep his feet out of the sand. His 8-iron approach shot sailed to 25 feet and he two-putted for par.

And how far did he have for that pivotal approach?

“I have no idea,” he laughed.

Fall facelift. Although the moving parts of the 2018-19 schedule appear to be still in flux, how the changes will impact the fall schedule is coming into focus.

The Tour’s goal is to end the season on Labor Day, which means the fall portion of the schedule will begin a month earlier than it does now. While many see that as a chance for the circuit to embrace a true offseason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that won’t be the case.

The more likely scenario is an earlier finish followed by a possible team competition, either the Ryder or Presidents cup, before the Tour kicks off a new season in mid-September, which means events currently played before the Tour Championship will slide to the fall schedule.

“So if you slide it back, somebody has to jump ahead. The mechanics of it,” said Davis Love III, host of the RSM Classic and a member of the Tour’s policy board. “I’m still going to go complain and beg for my day, but I also understand when they say, this is your date, make it work, then we'll make it work.”

While 2019 promises to bring plenty of change to the Tour, know that the wraparound season and fall golf are here to stay.

Product protection. Speaking of the fall schedule and the likely plan to expand the post-Tour Championship landscape, officials should also use the platform to embrace some protections for these events.

Consider that the RSM Classic featured the third-strongest field last week according to the Official World Golf Ranking, behind the season-ending tournament in Dubai on the European Tour and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.

The winner in Dubai received 50 World Ranking points, a marquee event that has historically been deeper than that week’s Tour stop, while the Dunlop Phoenix winner, Brooks Koepka, won 32 points. Austin Cook collected 30 points for his victory at Sea Island Resort.

All told, the Japan event had four players in the field from the top 50 in the world, including world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama; while the highest-ranked player at the RSM Classic was Matt Kuchar at 15th and there were seven players from the top 50 at Sea Island Resort.

Under Tour rules, Koepka, as well as any other Tour members who competed either in Japan or Dubai, had to be granted conflicting-event releases by the circuit.

Although keeping players from participating in tournaments overseas is not an option, it may be time for the circuit to reconsider the conflicting-event policy if the result is a scenario like last week that relegates a Tour event to third on the international dance card.