According to those in the know, one of the biggest changes in the golf world today is increased emphasis on fitness.

According to those in the know, one of the biggest changes in the golf world today is increased emphasis on fitness.

Both experienced professionals and up-and-comers in this popular sport are heeding advice from fitness gurus when it comes to conditioning routines specifically designed for golf. The results are adding up as the scores are going down. The focus is on functional training that mimics actual physical demands of the game and positively influences the body's neurological responses.

Flexibility, stability and power all are improved by exercise, and a wide variety of golf-specific programs can be found in books, magazines, online and in person from local experts. Routine conditioning can make the game more enjoyable by improving stamina and significantly reducing the risk of injury.

With or without regular exercise, some simple stretching exercises done before and after your game can provide a beneficial warm-up and cool-down that your body will appreciate. As with all stretching, move slowly and comfortably, stopping if you feel pain or discomfort. Never bounce.

Reaching lateral side stretch

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then slowly bend to the side and reach over the top of your head with your hand. Do not bend forward. Repeat on both sides.

Reaching-down triceps stretch

Reach behind your head with both hands and your elbow pointing up. Then reach down your back with your hands.

Posterior shoulder stretch

Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that your left fingertips can reach your upper back. Repeat for the right shoulder.

Anterior shoulder and chest stretch

Hold a club with both hands behind your back, elbows extended. Now stick out your chest while you raise the club back away from your body and hold.

Hamstring stretch

Stand upright and place your left foot on the golf cart or bench. Now bend forward at the waist while keeping your back straight. Repeat for the right side.

Lower-back trunk rotation

Sit using a golf cart seat or a bench. Keeping your hips facing forward, rotate your body all the way to the left, look over your shoulder and hold. If you like, you can grab hold of the back of the bench or seat. Repeat for the right side.