Even though there are several inches of snow still covering most golf courses up and down the East Coast, that’s no reason to stop getting yourself ready for the 2014 season. Maybe your holidays yielded a new driver or wedge you’re itching to use; maybe you have some new shoes that you can’t wait to slip on in the clubhouse … Now’s the time to start working with your most important piece of equipment — your body.
You may think that Pros would be at a higher risk for injury than amateurs because they play and practice more often, but it’s the amateurs that suffer more from common injuries like low back pain, elbow and wrist tendinitis, and shoulder problems. Do you know why?
Week after week, from Kapalua to the FedEx Championship, we see the Pros playing virtually pain-free, hitting the ball farther and spinning it tighter. How do they do it? First off, their swings are much more efficient, with every relevant joint working in perfect sequence, resulting in less stress placed on the lower back. Key factors to achieve this, are proper set-up position and maintaining spine posture from backswing through follow-through. The winter months are a good time for us amateurs to work on these habits.
Look at the pictures below of a traditional address position. Note the hinged hips and flat lower back. Finding and maintaining those 2 points through motion can be carried over to strength exercises like the Romanian Deadlift (RDL).
It’s important to find a Golf Fitness Program that includes these important points. The experts at the Professional Athletic Performance Center’s Golf Fitness Program will gauge your posture throughout the swing using state-of-the-art Dartfish Movement Video Analysis, pinpointing critical areas of improvement for your golfing success. They will even communicate with your teaching pro to make sure your game is a collaborative approach.
Chances are, once the weather warms and the winter thaw unveils blades of grass, most golfers will start hacking away to prep for their first round. But how much prep (i.e. range work) is enough or even too much? Think about it — do Pro baseball pitchers go out and throw a complete game on their first spring training outing? Nope. Do amateur marathoners train by running 26.2 miles on their first day of training? Don’t think so. So why do we, as golfers, feel the need to pick up right where we left off in the fall? And sometimes we mistakenly have expectations that we can score similarly and not feel a twinge of soreness in the days to follow.
The approach for getting back into golfing should follow a similar progression to what was mentioned above. Initial range work should consist of wedges/short irons (7-9) with number of swings starting at 30, progressing 10 swings every session. Focus should be on set-up and posture as both are easier to establish and maintain with shorter backswings. Once 50 swings are achieved with no soreness and proper form, longer irons/ hybrids can be used to 80 total swings in a session, then interspersing woods and, finally, a driver into your range sessions.
“Playing 9” is strongly advised for the first rounds of the year. Dare I even say play it forward?
The Professional Athletic Performance Center is located at 645 Stewart Avenue, Garden City NY 11530, and can be reached at 516-794-3278 or www.professionalperformance.net.
Fred DeNisco is a BOC certified Athletic Trainer, NSCA certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and TPI certified CGFI – L2.