“…most people have physical issues that limit them. Through the screening I can identify those issues and suggest ways to adjust a swing.” —Glenn Deck
here’s truth to the saying that golf is a game for the ages. With a handicap scoring system to keep it competitive and multiple tee boxes to allow players at all skill levels to enjoy the course equally, golf can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Without adequate physical preparation and adjustments over time, however, golf can lose its appeal. Regardless of our level of play, we need to enlist strategies that will allow us to enjoy and excel at this game for years to come.
Golf Fitness is Not an Oxymoron
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, golf is one of the more injury-producing sports in the United States. Back issues afflict almost 50 percent of amateur golfers, with elbow and shoulder problems not far behind. But these injuries are avoidable.
Once we hit 40, we lose about one percent of muscle mass each year, leading to a gradual loss of strength and power. If golfers aren’t weight training, there’s a good chance they’ll be switching to the forward tees before long.
If you are working out, congratulations. But how’s your hitting distance? Although traditional strength training is ideal for maintaining or building muscle mass and bone density, it may not address the specific demands of golf.
Glenn Deck, director of instruction for Pelican Hill Golf Club® and Oak Creek Golf Club,® offers clients a 30-minute screening to assess their balance, flexibility and stability. “Everybody wants to swing like Rory [McIlroy],” says Deck, “but most people have physical issues that limit them. Through the screening I can identify those issues and suggest ways to adjust a swing to account for them. We can also address the limitations themselves and then work on getting the swing where it needs to be.”
Roy Khoury, a Titleist Performance Institute golf fitness specialist and owner of Roy Khoury Fitness in Newport Beach, agrees with Deck’s approach.
“Golf fitness requires a foundation of mobility, stability and coordination followed by strength and power training,” he says. Regardless of your power, a movement screening by a certified golf fitness professional can quickly pinpoint flexibility deficiencies that compromise an efficient golf swing.
“Golf fitness also trains you to move well and teaches your body how to stabilize itself during a golf swing,” says Khoury, “especially when it’s under the stress of lateral and rotational forces.” Stabilization training for the hips, core and upper body contributes to back, shoulder and hip strength and flexibility, addressing three areas that, past age 40, become increasingly susceptible to injury.
For those not currently working out, an excellent starting point is a golf fitness training program. Not only does this regimen allow for continued enjoyment of the game, but the upped fitness quotient carries over into a strong and healthy lifestyle off the course.
Have a Fit
Golf purists will tell you that when it comes to bad swings and missed putts, the problem is not the shot, but the shooter. I respectfully disagree. As a golf equipment writer and equipment junkie for the past 15 years, I am convinced that embracing new technology can and will positively affect your golf game.
Of course, there’s more to it than scooping up the latest gear and hoping it’ll work out. When it comes to clubs, the only way to find what’s best for your game is to get fitted for the clubs, from driver on down to putter, that are causing frustration.
Most golf retailers—think Roger Dunn or PGA Superstores—offer basic fitting services; but, for the best result, consider an outdoor grass facility like Cool Clubs at Oak Creek Golf Club, where you and the club fitter can eye the ball flight from start to finish. Cool Clubs asserts that 86 percent of clients see an increase in accuracy from tee to green, 82 percent see an increase in distance, and 81 percent see scoring averages improve. Now, that’s a winning trifecta!
‘Feel isn’t Real’
We live in a data-driven world in which information is at our fingertips 24/7. Like it or not, golfers need to embrace technology on and off the course. I use a laser range finder and a golf app for my phone; the combination has saved at least two strokes a round by giving me precise distances to and over hazards and displaying specifics of hole layouts on unfamiliar courses.
While we’re talking tech, the digital camera in most smartphones can be an excellent and easy-to-use training tool. Download a swing app and have a friend videotape your swing so that you can clearly see what you’re doing. ‘Feel isn’t real’ when it comes to a flawed swing; video provides visual evidence that all may not be as it seems. And that’s step one to fixing the problem.
Golf should be a game that grows more enjoyable the longer we play. Do we not all dream of shooting our age? If we recognize the nearly limitless flexibility built into this sport, plan accordingly and take advantage of what the game gives us, every stroke will still count the same and feel as good, whether you’re teeing it up alongside your grandchild or your grandfather.
Screening appointments can be made with Glenn Deck at 949.467.5810. For complete details, please visit pelicanhill.com/golf.