“Getting in shape for golf” is not a contradiction in terms
February 26, 1999
Let’s face it. Among the major sports, golf probably makes the least physical demands on its players.
Golfing just doesn’t involve the heavy aerobic requirements and strength conditioning needed for other sports such as slow pitch softball, bowling, or the best Winter Olympic event, curling.
That’s the one in the ice rink with a couple of brooms, a round rock with a handle on top, and what looks like a shuffleboard pattern drawn on the ice.
The comic strip Non Sequitur dealt with this topic a while back. Two svelteness-impaired guys stand next to their cart. One says to the other, “Golf is a sport. Therefore, we are athletes.”
Well, maybe not. On the other hand, enjoying a round of golf is much easier if you take some simple steps to be in decent shape.
Now is a good time to start. After all, it’s winter. It’s not like you’re so busy playing golf that you can’t find the time to exercise.
Think of it in these terms. The golf season starts April 1. You can do a lot in five weeks to make that Opening Day Tournament much more fun.
So what should you do? If you haven’t exercised in a while, and especially if you’re “of a certain age,” you should first check with your primary care physician to make sure there will be no problems.
Assuming no major health issues, just start walking. That’s it. Just walk.
Don’t try for too much distance at first. Ten to fifteen minutes or so should be enough to start. Try to keep to a pace of about 15 minutes a mile. That will give you at least a light aerobic workout.
Eventually you’ll work up to a half-hour or more around your neighborhood or on the treadmill, five to six times per week.
Treadmills give you two advantages. They provide an all-weather opportunity for exercise, and they can be programmed for things you don’t normally encounter in the Atlantic Ocean beach communities around here. Like hills.
You should alternate the walking with bicycling, either on a stationary bike or just riding around on the nicer weather days.
The point is to vary the intensity and type of aerobic workout. The variety will help keep you going with your exercise program, and the intensity changes will produce better results.
Aerobic exercise is good. Combining aerobic and anaerobic exercise such as weightlifting is better.
You might try the methods described in The Golfer’s Two-Minute Workout: Add 30 yards to Your Drive in 6 Weeks, by Peter N. Sisco and John R. Little (Contemporary Books, paperback, $12.95 SRP).
Sisco and Little teach you how to do two sessions of six different weight lifts that are completed in two minutes or less.
The specific lifts, such as wrist curls, are targeted to the primary muscle groups used in golf. In essence, you hold the maximum amount of weight you can, in positions of nearly full extension, for 10 to 20 seconds. With appropriate rest and recovery time between workouts, this method leads to substantial gains in strength.
Sisco and Little aren’t kidding. My first bench press using this technique was 155 pounds. Six sessions later, I “benched” 215.
Finally, don’t forget to stretch, giving particular attention to your shoulders, back, and trunk.
The trained staff at the YMCA and the other fitness centers around town can help you learn how to use the weight equipment and how to perform the stretching exercises. They will help prevent injury in your first rounds of the season.
And that’s all it takes. You’ll feel better, and play better, too.