with Robert Bicknell
Last week, I mentioned that handicaps have not seemed to go down over the years, despite the latest improvements in technology. The fact remains that the weakest link in the chain is the person him or herself.
The average golfer tends to take up the game when he or she is no longer racing around a sports field, nor actively participating in other energetic, competitive or physically demanding sports.
Golf is usually thought of as a game of technical skill rather than an athletic event, requiring less exertion than most other sports. Because of this misconception, premature performance plateaus and injuries are often the result.
Now most of you would not equate golf as a highly athletic event, but in actuality it is.
Consider this: The average Major League pitcher throws a baseball 90MPH and the average golf club head speed is 90MPH. Professional golfers often range in the 110-130MPH range.
Amateur golfers achieve approximately 90 per cent of their peak muscular activity when driving a golf ball. This is the same intensity as picking up a weight that can only be lifted four times before total muscular fatigue! Yet many golfers fail to realize that they strike the ball an average of 45 times per game with comparable intensity.
Between that, the heat and the fact that golfers usually don't drink enough water, or too much beer, it's pretty easy to explain why you feel like a wrung-out dishrag when coming off the course.
According to the NGF (National Golf Foundation) and other research articles, one-tenth of one percent of all the players out there shoot "par" golf.
Interestingly enough, approximately 30 per cent of all professional golfers are playing injured (I can attest to that), while 54 per cent of male amateur golfers and 45 per cent of female amateur golfers are playing injured.
Granted, injuries can be as simple as a blister on the hand or foot, a tweaked muscle, tendonitis, a stress fracture on the foot or something more serious - such as a muscle tear or even a broken cartilage (yeah, that was me… yes it hurt like hell and yes I lost faith in doctors after that).
So, if space age technology cannot help players dramatically improve, what can be done?
One of the supposed definitions of "insanity" is doing exactly the same thing multiple times and expecting different results. But that's what people are doing when it comes to their golf game.
First of all, in my opinion, players need to improve themselves. They simply cannot expect better results without tuning up the machine performing the golf swing and that means understanding what exercises will benefit them and which will not. When people "stretch" before their round, it usually means bending over a few times, rotating their torso with a club behind their back and shaking out their hands / wrists.
What they should be doing is proper stretching every day when they wake up, or in their office during a lunch break. Yes, they can do it in the gym as well, providing they have a trainer who is experienced in biomechanics. In lieu of that, there are many books available on the subject at Amazon.com.
Most readers know that I am really into weight training, but the average player doesn't need to take it to the extreme that I do. I am doing it for a completely different reason which doesn't involve golf. However, with that said, light to moderate weight training will benefit players… just don't go overboard.
Golfers need to work on their core muscles more than anything else. Pilates and yoga are actually excellent ways to strengthen these areas and the benefit of yoga is that you will increase your range of flexibility.
OK, now that you've improved your body (aka the golf machine), the next step is getting your swing into shape and the only way to do that is through an instructor who knows what he is doing.
The sad fact is that not all teachers are created equal. Many times you will find an inexpensive pro who teaches the only swing they know (their own) and this doesn't always fit the player due to different shapes, heights and abilities.
Also, the teacher needs to be able to communicate their ideas in such a way that the student can understand and apply instantaneously.
The last thing is practice what you've learned. — VNS