Its never too late to get your body in golf shape

By Golf Fitness MagazineMarch 8, 2010, 6:44 pm

This is probably what it seems like the golf experts are saying. Sounds like an awful lot of work that you have to do just to enjoy playing a round. In fact, work is exactly what it sounds like. Whether you are still in the corporate world or are enjoying the golden years of retirement no one wants to associate golf with work unless you are planning on competing for the next PGA championship.

So if you are not trying to be Tiger or Ernie then what is the point of spending time in a gym or working out at home? “Working out” or golf-related fitness can’t really be all that important, right? If you want to go out with the guys or your spouse and have fun playing a good round of golf then why bother with all of these exercises promoted by every golf and fitness expert? You are not doing your body or your golf game any harm, right? Wrong.

Studies have shown that the aging population actually has a higher potential for strength gains than those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. This is primarily due to a lower baseline activity level of the older group.

Compared with younger groups performing similar exercises over a one month period the aging population can achieve more than double the strength gains. You are never too old to start; the results can have a dramatic effect on your daily life and on your golf game.

If golf is your only form of exercise then you are doing your golf game and your body a disservice. Don’t get me wrong…there are many beneficial aspects of the game of golf-including the physical aspect of just playing. However, a golf swing is a repetitive movement that puts unusual strain on certain parts of the body.Without “undoing” that stress-in other words specific strengthening and stretching to protect your neck, back, arms, and legs, you are placing yourself at risk of injuries.

Yoga Class
Trunk Rotations. Four different Yoga Poses. Three back stretches. Hold for 10 seconds each. Then six Core Stabilizations Exercises. Oh, and before you are finished, make certain you warm up your wrists, shoulders, neck, knees, and ankles. NOW – and only now – are you ready to start your round of golf.
Combine this risk with the normal effects of aging-decreased strength, decreased flexibility, decreased rate of healing of body tissues-and suddenly you are facing a rotator cuff or low back injury that keeps you on the recliner rather than on the golf cart.

Many of my patients come to see me with one problem or complaint, for example low back pain. However, once we get started with treatment, I discover that not only does that patient struggle with the low back, but he or she also cannot reach behind to tuck in a shirt or cannot squat down to pick something off of the floor.

When I question the patient about that limitation the usual answer is something such as, “Oh, I’ve had it forever” or “I just thought it was part of getting old” or “I didn’t think it was important enough to tell my doctor about.” Wrong again. These problems are not something that just occur with getting older and are important enough to tell your physician about. Below are some common benchmarks that we use to judge physical ability and fitness:

• Are you able to reach overhead to put dishes away in the cabinet?

• Are you able to reach behind to tuck in your shirt, get your wallet out of your pocket, or hook your bra?

• Are you able to reach forward to put on your shoes and socks?

• Are you able to squat down to pick up something from the floor (i.e. a golf ball from the bottom of the cup)?

• Are you able to turn your torso or do you have to shorten your golf swing?

If you answered “no” to any one of those questions than you may have an underlying problem that could be treated by a physical therapist. Left untreated, these problems will worsen and lead to more limitations. To prevent that, your physician may want to refer you to therapy, where you can have a thorough evaluation.

By finding the underlying cause and treating that problem you may be able to resume the ability to perform these daily and golf-related activities without pain or limitations.

Here are a few facts:

• Virtually everyone will experience low back pain at some point in his or her life. Low back pain is one of the top 10 reasons for people to see their primary care physician.

There are many causes for low back pain and each one is treated differently from a rehabilitation and exercise standpoint-in other words the exercises that helped your golf buddy get back to playing may actually be harmful for you!

• Arthritis affects 50% of Americans over the age of 65. It is most common in the hips, spine, and knees. Along with medications that your physician may prescribe, healthy diet, and maintaining a low body weight, moderate exercise including appropriate strengthening and flexibility exercises are the best way to both prevent and manage arthritis.

• In order to achieve a normal golf swing, you need good range of motion in you shoulders, spine, and hips. Limitations in any of these will place more strain on other joints and muscles eventually causing injury. Additionally you will try to compensate during your golf swing which may cause you to hit the ball fat, thin or just completely off course.

Here is what you can do about it:

• Exercise: All of the exercises that you see out there can be intimidating and overwhelming. The good news is that it doesn’t take much-usually just a few specific exercises-to get you back on track. The bad news is that aggressively performing the wrong exercises for your problem may actually cause more harm than good. You need to make certain you are doing what is correct for you.

• If you need to increase your activity level with specific exercises, whether to prevent future problems, address current limitations, minimize the problems that you already have, or just fine-tune your golf game-then your best bet is to start with a gentle exercise program (always check with your physician before starting any new exercise program). Pick exercises that stretch and strengthen the area where you have the most limitations. Try to slowly build up more range of motion, flexibility and strength through increasing the amount of stretch and the number of times you perform each exercise.

• Manual Therapy: Sometimes a problem requires more than just exercise to the muscles. Often times our joints become very tight and we need specific stretching to the joint and surrounding areas. Performing exercises along with specific hands-on techniques a therapist can provide often leads to the best and quickest recovery.

• Hydration and nutrition are important regardless of age. Without the proper foundation of a well-balance diet and fluid intake your body cannot function at its best, regardless of your fitness level. Try eating a small, healthy snack (for example yogurt or a small apple with peanut butter) about an hour or two before working out to ensure you have energy to get you through your work out. Also make sure you drink plenty of water while on the course or driving range.

• Prevention is always the best way to make certain that you are able to stay healthy and active as you age. Whether you are at the gym working out several days per week or a couch potato golfing a few times a month get up and get moving!

Doing just a little more each day will add strength, flexibility, and endurance to your game.  Playing with more strength and less aches & pains, means lower scores and more enjoyment of the game for many more years to come.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Golf Fitness Magazine is the only national consumer publication dedicated to golf-specific fitness, mental focus, and improving ability, performance and health among all golfers. Get cutting edge fitness & mental tips sent to your inbox each month with our free golf performance eNewsletter, Shape Your Game.
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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”

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How will players game-plan for Carnoustie?

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:31 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Thomas took a familiar slash with his driver on the 18th tee on Monday at Carnoustie and watched anxiously as his golf ball bounced and bounded down the fairway.

Unlike the two previous editions of The Open, at what is widely considered the rota’s most demanding test, a particularly warm and dry summer has left Carnoustie a parched shade of yellow and players like Thomas searching for answers.

Under the best circumstances, Carnoustie is every bit the unforgiving participant. But this week promises to be something altogether different, with players already dumbfounded by how far the ball is chasing down fairways and over greens.

Brown is beautiful here at Royal Dark & Dusty.

But then it’s also proving to be something of a unique test.

Where most practice rounds at The Open are spent trying to figure out what lines are best off tees, this is more a study of lesser evils.

Tee shots, like at the par-4 17th hole, ask multiple questions with few answers. On his first attempt, Thomas hit 2-iron off the tee at No. 17. It cleared the Barry Burn and bounded down the middle of the fairway. Perfect, right? Not this year at Carnoustie, as Thomas’ tee shot kept rolling until it reached the same burn, which twists and turns through both the 17th and 18th fairways, at a farther intersection.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“A hole like 17 in this wind, the trick is getting a club that will carry [the burn],” said Thomas, who played 18 holes on Monday with Tiger Woods. “If that hole gets downwind you can have a hard time carrying the burn and keeping it short of the other burn. It’s pretty bizarre.”

The sixth hole can offer a similar dilemma, with players needing to carry their tee shots 275 yards to avoid a pair of pot bunkers down the right side of the fairway. Yet just 26 yards past those pitfalls looms a second set of bunkers. Even for the game’s best, trying to weave a fairway wood or long-iron into a 26-yard window can be challenging.

“Six is a really hard hole, it really just depends on how you want to play it. If you want to take everything on and have a chance of hitting an iron into a par 5, or just kind of lay back and play it as a three-shot hole,” Thomas shrugged.

It’s difficult to quantify precisely how short the 7,400-yard layout is playing. It’s not so far players are flying the ball in the air, particularly with relatively little wind in the forecast the rest of the week, so much as it is a question of how a particular shot will run out after it’s made contact with the firm turf.

As the field began to get their first taste of the bouncy fun, one of the earliest indications something was askew came on Sunday when Padraig Harrington, who won The Open the last time it was played at Carnoustie in 2007, announced to the social world that he’d hit into the burn on the 18th hole.

“This time it was the one at the green, 457 yards away,” the Irishman tweeted. “The fairways are a tad fast.”

Most players have already resigned themselves to a steady diet of mid-irons off tees this week in an attempt to at least partially control the amount of run-out each shot will have.

Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, hadn’t played a practice round prior to his media session, but could tell what’s in store just from his abbreviated range session on Monday. “Extremely baked out,” he said.

The conditions have already led Spieth and his caddie, Micheal Greller, to conjure up a tentative game plan.

“You might wear out your 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you’re used to,” Greller told him.

But even that might not be the answer, as Tommy Fleetwood discovered on Sunday during a practice round. Fleetwood has a unique connection with Carnoustie having shot the course record (63) during last year’s Dunhill Links Championship.

The Englishman doesn’t expect his record to be in danger this week.

In fact, he explained the dramatically different conditions were evident on the third hole on Sunday.

“There’s holes that have been nothing tee shots, like the third. If you play that in the middle of September or October [when the Dunhill is played] and it’s green and soft, you could just hit a mid-iron down the fairway and knock it on with a wedge,” Fleetwood said. “Yesterday it was playing so firm, the fairways really undulate and you have bunkers on either side, it’s actually all of a sudden a tough tee shot.”

The alternative to the iron game plan off the tee would be to simply hit driver, an option at least one long-hitter is considering this week if his practice round was any indication.

On Sunday, Jon Rahm played aggressively off each tee, taking the ubiquitous fairway bunkers out of play but at the same time tempting fate with each fairway ringed by fescue rough, which is relatively tame given the dry conditions. But even that option has consequences.

“It’s kind of strange where there’s not really a number that you know you’re going to be short,” said Fleetwood, who played his Sunday practice round with Rahm. “[Rahm] hit a drive on 15 that was like 400 yards. You just can’t account for that kind of stuff.”

Whatever tactic players choose, this Open Championship promises to be a much different test than what players have become accustomed to at Carnoustie.