It has really been a tough few days for me at the office. I wake up in the morning and head down for breakfast, read my favourite paper whilst enjoying a good strong cup of coffee. My day then comprises of stepping onto one of the most beautiful and well groomed courses in the world, the famous Gary Player Golf Course. If you haven’t guessed it by now, I am covering the Nedbank Million Dollar Golf challenge.
It is the only time of year where you can comfortably stalk someone for a good part of the day and not feel bad about it. One of the things that have surprised me is the amount of walking I did yesterday under the blistering sun. Thank heavens for a flash rain shower which cooled things down otherwise I would be in the news for other reasons, like stealing the ice trolley.
I consider myself fitter than the average man and that’s because as a sports scientist my job requires me to keep up with my clients, but I will be honest, it is a lot of walking and by the end of the day I felt noticeably fatigued under these new conditions.
If I felt fatigued then how do these pro golfers wake up each morning, play and then repeat for 4 consecutive days, and then move on to the next tournament and do it all over again. What baffles me most is the size of some of these golfers in the competition, most definitely on the opposite end of the scale when we refer to them as athletes. Here are some tips on how to take your golf from good to great.
No amount of conditioning in the world and well chiselled abs can amount to having a perfect swing and the perfect swing comes about through thousands of hours of practice, game experience and possible genetical ability. Apply the 10 000 hour principle to your swing and see how well your swing improves.
When you talk about core, don’t think about it as abdominals only, but rather see core as the floor to a mansion. The floor or foundation is the single biggest performance attribute for any golfer and in building a mansion, you would not dream of not making sure your monstrosity cannot be supported by a solid foundation. In golfing terms the mansion is the metaphor for the human body.
When you start to see cracks in the mansion, it means that your foundation is taking strain and something needs to be done about it before you can move to the next level. Your lower back pain, your inflamed knees and those aches and pains you feel are the cracks in your mansion. Work on your core twice a day for 15 minutes to help reinforce your foundation.
Strength and power:
It is not how hard you smash the ball from the tee-off and as you know, you can have all the strength and power in the world but controlling that power is the skill and art of a true golfer. In having said that, if you are already a good golfer, where do you look to, to take your golf from good to great. This, depending on how well balanced you are, may lie in strength and power.
Muscle tension, muscle strength and muscle flexibility are three key factors in generating explosive force under control. Well-conditioned muscles allow for faster, more efficient and more effortless firing of muscle fibres which transpires into a more accurate drive, chip or putt. More importantly well-conditioned muscles help golfers to fatigue slower, which can mean the difference between making a birdie or choking for a par in the latter part of the day.
Yoga and Pilates is to a golfer what Superman’s cape is to him, an absolute necessity if you want to take on the world. Golfers need flexibility through their bodies because it all comes down to range of motion. If a golfer is having a bad day with over swinging or under chipping, it could well be because the range of motion is being hindered through various factors ranging from tightness from the previous day’s play, nurturing an injury or the surrounding muscles not firing the way they should.
The next time you are feeling over tight in a particular area why don’t you perform the super stretch which will help you and your game. Stand on the tee box and squeeze your glutes as hard as possible for 15 seconds. The way that I explain to my athletes is that you need to think about holding a sheet of paper between your cheeks. Perform this exercise twice for the tight areas and see how amazingly your range of motion opens up.
This super stretch works wonders in releasing tight muscle but true flexibility comes about when you work at it and both yoga and pilates are essential tools in keeping you playing for longer. I recommend one to two times a week.
Golf has definitely come a long way since back in the days. On the outer surface golf can still be seen as a sport for overweight elderly people who earn lots of money but if you look a little closer, the golfers who manage to come back year after year, are the ones that are taking care of their performance needs.
They are the ones making sure that their foundations are solid, working on their flexibility and improving their strength and power one session at a time.