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Golf tips brought to you by our golf professional Dave Roy
Over the past 15 years or so, Tiger Woods has changed the way we perceive the game in regard to strength and fitness. There is no doubt that you will get better at golf by improving your body and mind. Although the winter months can seem very long, they provide a great opportunity to enhance your body and mind to help improve your golf game and overall health. The nice thing is you don't have to join a gym or a sports league to stay in shape. Here are a few key areas you can focus on improving over the off-season.
Balance is often overlooked for its importance in the game. A common question asked is "how do I hit it longer?". The easiest way to gain distance is balance. When your body is allowed to use its strength to hit the ball, as opposed to maintaining balance throughout the golf swing, you get an instant increase in distance.
Improving your balance is as easy as standing on one leg (like a flamingo). At first, do this with your eyes open for 30 seconds on each leg, and increase your time as you improve. Once you have done this successfully, try closing your eyes. Again, do this at first for about 30 seconds per leg (if you can manage that long), and increase length of time as you improve. Be sure you are close to a wall that you can easily lean against, in case you lose your balance.
There are also balance boards and aids that you can purchase to further your practice in balance.
Properly improving your strength is beneficial in many ways. I highly suggest introducing some of this into your daily routine. You don't need to go to the gym and use big weights or machines. Your own body weight, with the proper movements will allow you to gain strength and agility, without sacrificing your flexibility. Core strength is paramount to a good golf swing. Your upper legs, buttocks, abdomen and obliques are what keep you centred during the swing and provide much of the speed and power. To strengthen these areas, I recommend squats, squats and more squats, lunges and knee/leg raises. You can Google these exercises to make sure you are doing them correctly.
Another key component in a good and powerful golf swing is flexibility. This is one of the areas that is most affected as we age. A good stretching routine or yoga can keep you feeling limber and your golf swing long and relaxed. I am a very big fan of yoga. Whether you are a spiritual yogi guru or the least flexible beginner, there are classes for your level. I have found all of my yoga experiences to be very beneficial and enjoyable. The atmosphere is very positive, relaxing and non-judgmental. Give it a try, I promise you won't regret it. For those of you not willing to try yoga, stretching at home or at the gym is the next best thing. Stretching when you wake up and before you go to bed will give you the most benefit. For a direct benefit to your swing, try to lengthen your shoulder turn in both directions, while keeping your core tight and your lower body relatively still.
There is no secret that regular exercise is good for the body. A doctor friend of mine did a survey of her senior patients 95 and up to determine the key to good health and longevity. The most common answer was daily exercise. Walk, run, swim, bike, surf or whatever you like, just make sure you do it every day. Your body and mind will thank you. I suggest exercising after dinner, to help keep you from snacking and sitting on the couch for the rest of the night. Your body will also have lots of fuel, from dinner, to keep you going.
People often over look the fact that golf is a hand-eye co-ordination sport. You can improve your game by improving your ability to react to targets. Playing other sports is a great way to get better at golf. Whether it be hockey, bowling, curling, basketball, billiards or even a good old snowball fight, playing these sports will not only improve your fitness, it will also keep your hand-eye co-ordination sharp. You can also do simple things at home like throwing a ball against the wall and catching it, ping pong or mini-stick hockey with your kids or grandchildren. Doing these things will help you to better transition your short game and alignment from winter to golf season.
The off season is a great opportunity to make positive changes to some of your fundamentals, like your grip or stance. You can practice these things at home in front of the tv or a mirror. They do not require you to be at the course or on the range. You can also practice swing in the basement or use soft practice balls in the house. The winter is also a good time to work on your putting. Make it a point to make 10, 25 or 100 putts from three feet every day or week. Don't work on the physical movement of the stroke, just focus on the hole and making putts. Look and react, don't think!
If you have any questions on what you can do to maintain or improve your golf body over the winter, don't hesitate to email me.