January is halfway through and before you know it golf season will be in full swing. Coming off a somewhat sedentary slump over the holidays is a normal pattern that we all have to break out of this time of year. Here are some tips for your body, your golf bag, and your practice schedule that will give you a head start on this year’s golf season.
The most common causes of golf injuries are excessive play, poor swing mechanics and poor physical conditioning. Overuse injuries occur when we force deconditioned joints and muscles to do repeated high-force movements, like swinging a golf club. This repetitive motion during play and practice to unconditioned muscles can cause trauma to muscles and connective tissue, leading to inflammation and pain. Here are some most productive exercises and stretches you can perform leading up to golf season that will prepare your joints and muscles for the large buckets at the ranges and the back nine.
Seated piriformis stretch
This stretch increases flexibility in the hips. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat up to five times per day.
This is a great stretch to strengthen your back. Hold each “superman” for 3-4 seconds and lower slowly. Repeat sets of 10 to start and increase to two sets up 25 per day.
This exercise strengthens the back and hips. Hold each bridge for 4-5 seconds. Start with 10-15 per day then increase to 25-30.
Cross-body shoulder stretch
This increases shoulder flexibility. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat once with each arm. This should be performed four times a day.
This is the perfect time of year to update, clean and repair your equipment. Getting new equipment mid-season always proves to be a hassle due to a necessary “break in” period. We suggest stocking up before the season kicks off so you can be practicing and getting used to the new equipment before your first round of the season.
Before every season you should at least clean your grips with a wet soapy towel and then rub them down. Better yet, replace those grips for usually under $80 and you’ll feel like you’re playing with an entirely new set of clubs.
If you’re not ready to buy a new pair of shoes this is another item that should be swapped out yearly. Most golfers wear their cleats down to a nub without knowing that they were ineffective far before “nub status.”
Restock the bag
Dump it all out, preferably in the garage, and ditch the wrappers, loose Advil and empty water bottles and restock with lip balm, bandages, sunblock, athletic tape, aspirin and safety pins.
Naturally, after a few month hiatus from the course you’re going to feel a bit off. It takes a few weeks of practice to get your swing and feel for the game back.
After a break, one of the first things to go is your touch around the green. Spend some time chipping, pitching and putting both with your normal swing and with only holding the club with your lead hand (left if your right-handed and visa versa). This one-handed approach will feel awkward at first but if you can get a feel for your swing around the greens with one hand then going back to your normal swing will be feel simple.
All too often there are a thousand thoughts running around our brains as we swing a golf club – this can be overwhelming and lead to a poor swing. Instead try and keep one or two key thoughts in mind or focus on a four-step method that works for you before you address the ball.
Know your weaknesses
Practice the areas that you’re the worst at – that may go without saying but it doesn’t happen very often. If you’re a poor bunker player make a point of only practicing sand shots for a few days. If you constantly three putt, well, putt more. While a well-rounded practice session may be productive your first few days back but as soon as you start to get your feel back start to target your trouble areas.