Finding time to practice the swing and short game between rounds is difficult, but golf fitness is a vital part of today’s game.
Generally, spending at least two hours a week on golf fitness is ideal, but it’s possible to spend just a few minutes before and after your round to attain a fitness level that can lead to better golf and a healthier lifestyle.
We asked four local industry experts to share their advice as to how golfers can improve their fitness before, during and after their rounds.
EXERCISES BEFORE A ROUND
The warm-up period is crucial because it protects against injury and improves muscle flexibility. Here are two drills from Daniel Farley, founder of Focal Point Fitness in Pasadena, that will help prepare you for the full swing:
1. Begin with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly flexed and arms extended while holding a golf club.
2. Step out with right leg slightly bent, turn right 90 degrees and hold for 5 seconds. Return to start position and repeat with the left side.
3. Elevate club to a 45-degree angle, step out with right leg and turn 90 degrees and hold for 5 seconds. Return to start position and repeat with the left side.
4. Lower club to just above knee level, step forward with right leg and turn torso so left arm crosses over right knee and hold for 5 seconds. Return to start position and repeat with the left side.
Do this drill two or three times before playing, or add it to your fitness routine and do it three or four times a week.
All Set Drill
1. Extend both arms and grab the side railing of a golf cart. Bend your knees slightly and lean slightly forward. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
2. Slowly extend and elevate right leg back. Flex right gluteus muscle while keeping left leg slightly bent. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on left leg.
3. Grab a golf cart column with both hands. Cross your left ankle over top of right knee and slowly sit back as if sitting in a chair with your upper body slightly forward. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
4. Utilize the same golf cart column and stand parallel to cart with right arm extended. Lean forward with a flexed right knee and extend left leg. You should feel your torso rotating. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
EXERCISES AFTER A ROUND
Stretching after playing will reduce the chance of injuries and help you bounce back for another round the next day. Here are three easy post-round stretches from Rick Sessinghaus, the 2008 Southern California PGA Metro Chapter Teacher of the Year:
1. Calf and hamstring stretch
Place a club in front of one foot and put your opposite foot back a few feet. Lean forward as far as possible until feeling a good stretch in your calf, hamstring and hip flexor muscles. Repeat with the opposite foot.
2. Upper back stretch
Get into a golf posture and stretch both arms in front while holding onto a golf cart. Slowly sit back and feel the stretch in the upper back and shoulders. Hold for a few seconds.
Stand straight with your arms at your side. Slowly twist back and forth while keeping your arms relaxed.
According to 2008 SCPGA Teacher of the Year Dale Abraham, eating food with the right balance of proteins and fats to carbohydrates will keep your mind sharp, your emotions balanced and your energy at optimal levels. Staying hydrated is crucial. Drink water 10-15 minutes before you start stretching for the round, and try to drink 4 to 8 ounces of water every 30 minutes. Here are more nutrition guidelines from Stephanie Overbaugh, who operates Body Balance for Performance in Irvine.
Before your round
A meal high in carbohydrates two to three hours before your round is recommended. Eat foods that will help sustain energy — good examples are eggs, turkey bacon, oatmeal, grainy bread, fruit, fish and baked beans. If you can’t do this because your tee time is at 7 a.m., try to have a high-carbohydrate snack an hour or two before teeing off, such as a bagel, fresh fruit or yogurt.
During your round
Eat regular amounts of food that will provide quick bursts of energy. Good examples are white bread, rolls, rice cakes, muffins, a peanut butter sandwich, tropical fruits, raisins, popcorn, nuts, energy bars, sports drinks and fruit juices. If you can’t eat solid foods because of nerves or stomach issues, experiment with different beverages and food during training so you get the right mix.
After your round
Replenish your carbohydrates and fluids no later than 20 minutes after a round or exercise routine. Ideal foods during a round are also ideal immediately afterward since they keep your energy up. After that, have a snack or meal with foods that provide more sustainable energy (those before a round) within two to three hours. These include pasta, green vegetables, and fresh fruit.