March 2010

Physical Fitness and Your Golf Game

Author: Pete Popovich


In previous articles we discussed how properly fit shafts can help golfers improve their game and increase their distance. Today we will discuss physical fitness in golf and how it affects your ability to hit the golf ball further with more control as a result of working out.

There are three things that allow a golfer to hit the ball farther as related to the human body. They are flexibility, strength, and speed.

Flexibility
Without good flexibility it is almost impossible for a golfer to achieve an increase in how far he hits the ball. Good flexibility allows a golfer to attain a coiled separation of the upper and lower body, the so called “X-Factor.” The more separation a golfer can achieve, the wider his range of motion becomes, and this wider range of motion allows for increased torque when the golfer’s body unwinds from backswing to downswing. Hopefully, with increased torque comes increased speed. Why do we say hopefully? Because if a golfer is not able to stabilize himself throughout this wider range of motion, he cannot control that range of motion. How does a golfer achieve the stability leading to control? The answer is strength.

Strength
Once you have increased your flexibility and your range of motion, you must be able to stabilize yourself within that range of motion. This is where core strength and joint strength come into play. Strong core muscles and joints keep you stabilized and aid in keeping your swing in check; i.e. under control. Lacking this, all your new flexibility would turn you into the “rubber man.” With both your body and the golf club out of sync and wobbling all over the place, your increased flexibility could do you more harm than good.

In addition to the basics of core and joint strength, strengthening other muscle groups—chest, back, arms, wrists, legs—can further enhance your ability to hit the ball farther. The stronger you can become in all areas of your body, the better you will become at keeping the golf club in the proper position (on plane) throughout the swing. Now your ability to control the club (strength) from going off-plane while you swing through a greater range of motion (flexibility) increases your chances to make center hit contact with the ball. And no one will disagree that a golf ball goes farthest when it is hit in the center of the club face.

Speed
Of the three body-related requisites for hitting the golf ball farther while still maintaining control, Speed is the most difficult to define for the simple reason that swing speed is innate and unique to each golfer. While flexibility and strength are largely determined by the musculoskeletal system, swing speed is determined by the central nervous system. We all walk at a certain speed, talk at a certain speed, etc., and in this context, swing speed may be looked upon as a function of temperament. Also, because of the way a person is built, he/she will max out at a certain swing speed.

Yet potential for speed cannot be realized without the other two aspects of flexibility and strength. An example of this is when someone says, “I heard or read that if I get lighter shafts in my clubs I can increase my swing speed by 10 percent.” That is true. But remember, in your golf game, you are looking to optimize distance and control. If you increase the club’s speed by 10 percent, you must also be able to move your body 10 percent faster in order to maintain control and not become like the “rubber man” mentioned above. If you cannot maintain control, which is often the case, both your direction and center-face hits will suffer. (We have all seen pro and scratch golfers alike try to “kill the ball” and end up cursing or throwing clubs when their shots fly into the woods or rough. They were looking for more “swing speed!”)

Through practice, finding the right teacher, and employing a physical fitness routine that incorporates stretching and weight training, you will be able to not only increase the distance you hit the golf ball, but you will hit it with better control and find yourself shooting better scores. You will also gain the endurance to maintain your speed, distance and control from hole to hole and round to round.

If you would like to learn how to develop, maximize and control your golfing ability, contact the Golf Performance Academy at golfacademyhilton.com or call 843-338-6737.

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GET IT ON! – Organizers of the Verizon Heritage Golf Tournament are thinking positive — and plaid!

They’re encouraging locals and visitors to “journey to the tourney and get your plaid on.” Wear a plaid cap. Carry a plaid bag. Just make sure it’s the tournament’s beloved Tartan Plaid! Organizers launched the new campaign last month. The goal is to get 100% local support and keep ticket sales strong.

Marketing director Angela McSwain says the approach is “a better alternative than dwelling on the lagging economy.” The recession and ongoing search for a 2011 sponsor have been the focus of the Verizon Heritage and PGA Tour in recent months. But now the spotlight is on embracing what the tournament means to the community: good times in Harbour Town and the ideal venue for spring networking.

McSwain hints there will be a series of Tartan plaid promotions in the month ahead, so stay tuned and keep plaid on your radar. “It’s a state of mind,” she says. You can start making it yours by attending the tournament April 12-18th at the Harbour Town Links.

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Inaugural Chamber Golf Week Tees Off in March

The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with the Low Country Golf Owners Association to bring a new and exciting event to the area this spring. Get ready for Chamber Golf Week, March 1-7.

Chamber Golf Week was created to inspire locals and visitors to celebrate and honor the Lowcountry’s rich tradition of golf. “It will also raise awareness of the game and its significance to Hilton Head Island,” says Chamber President and CEO Bill Miles.

There is a reason why residents and returning visitors to Hilton Head Island affectionately refer to the destination as “The Golf Island.” The game of golf has been a Lowcountry tradition since the first Scottish immigrants to South Carolina organized America’s first golf club in 1786.

Various golf courses will host a varied array of special events and offerings during Chamber Golf Week. From putting contests to “Family Get Out and Play Day” there is something for every level of golfer. These activities will generate interest in the sport of golf and support the Verizon Heritage PGA Tournament and the Heritage Classic Foundation.

Duffers can participate in an area-wide putting contest taking place at several courses throughout the week, with a Putting Championship Final at Harbour Town Golf Links on Saturday. Golf courses will also be selling raffle tickets to win a chance to play in the Verizon Heritage Harbour Town Cup Pro-AM, Monday, April 12, 2010.

Some of our area’s top pros will present exhibitions throughout the week, including Doug Weaver at Palmetto Dunes, Rick Barry at Sea Pines Resort and Greg MacDonnell at Old South. There are also golf equipment demo days scheduled for those interested in updating their gear as well as a Golf Fashion Trunk Show Luncheon to update golf wardrobes.

“Chamber Golf Week will benefit the area golf industry the way that Chamber Restaurant Week boosted the area’s food and beverage industry at a time when tourism traffic is quiet,” Miles says. Chamber Golf Week will be a great opportunity for residents to get out and enjoy great rounds of golf before the season picks up after the Verizon Heritage Tournament in April.

Golf enthusiasts delight in the wide and scenic fairways of the area’s courses, created by golf’‘s most preeminent architects. The championship courses see 700,000 rounds of golf annually that generate revenues of nearly $123 million each year for Beaufort County.

For updated information on the calendar of events, a list of participating golf courses and more, log on to www.ChamberGolfWeek.com.

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