The Masters, the first of the four major championships in professional golf may have come and gone, but the energy of the event is still in the air. Whether rooting for Phil Mickelson playing in honour of his wife and mother who are both dealing with breast cancer, or for the much anticipated re-emergence of Tiger Woods back onto the public scene and the greens where he is most comfortable, people got back into the excitement of the game. As the temperatures warm many people are heading back outdoors and taking their golf clubs with them. But whether you’re a seasoned player or getting out there as a first-time golfer, here are some useful tips that you could employ to improve your game and overall health.
1. Warm-up and stretch before teeing off: just as with any activity, it’s necessary to warm up the muscles prior to getting started, this not only helps in reducing the risk of injury, but it helps to improve performance overall. A warmed and properly stretched muscle can go through a full range of motion better than a cold muscle therefore making your swing a lot more powerful and productive.
2. Walk instead of ride to get the added benefit of extra steps: 10,000 steps a day are recommended for general health. Although driving in the cart might be more fun, a walk on the golf course sans the cart will quickly add to those needed steps.
3. Start small; start out on a shorter course first: although not a rigorous activity as running, golf is activity nonetheless. If you’ve been sedentary most of the winter, start small on one of the shorter 9-hole courses and progressively work your way up to the 18 holes.
4. Professional help is a plus and a good investment: This is a two-parter
a. Golf Pros to the rescue: Seek the help of a trained Golf Professional one who is recognized by the PGA or LPGA to help you develop good form, strong skills and a solid foundation. For those who are seasoned and have been golfing for a while, the occasional assistance from a Golf Professional can provide new techniques to help improve your game or can identify bad habits that may be hindering your performance.
b. Fit for performance: Work with a trained Fitness Professional, one who has experience working with golfers, to help you develop a strength and conditioning program that will strengthen the muscles used during the game and who will also create a flexibility program to encourage the lengthening of tight muscles
5. Relax Release and Enjoy: One of the biggest attractions to the game of golf is that it allows you to be outdoors and to take advantage of beautiful weather. Although golf can be competitive, try to gain the “meditative” effects of the game by not focusing so much on the competition, but really enjoy being outdoors and the camaraderie of those around you
Here's a video from the Golf Channel's Golf Fitness Academy featuring Masters Champion Zach Johnson on lower body warm-ups: