• It's Golf Season: Come Out Swinging

    With a few tips from the pros, you don't have to look "green" on the fairway
  • Oh, it may look easy. All you have to do is stand over the ball and take a swing, right? Any new golfer might choke (pun intended) at the thought of hitting a long one down the fairway as being easy. While golf doesn't require any particular athletic ability, a level of fitness can be a real advantage in avoiding the sprains and strains that can result from energetic bending, twisting and swinging.
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    • Group Lessons: More Fun, Less Money
      For a more budget-friendly introduction to the sport, Vince Domenzain suggests that group lessons can be a great way to try it out and can also be an instant source of golfing buddies.
      "If you'...
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      Group Lessons: More Fun, Less Money
      For a more budget-friendly introduction to the sport, Vince Domenzain suggests that group lessons can be a great way to try it out and can also be an instant source of golfing buddies.

      "If you're looking for value, Medford Parks and Recreation holds clinics that can cost as little as $10 a lesson, so there are ways to dispel the myth that golf is too expensive," he says. "People are more apt to sign up for lessons as a group, say a group of gals from an office or with friends. And the social part of it is part of the game."

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      How to Go Like a Pro

      You're ready. You're inspired. You can't wait to get started. But here are some cautionary tips that may save you time, money and embarrassment.

      1. Learn the rules of golf and basic golf etiquette.

      2. Don't waste money on expensive clubs until you have gained some experience and reached a basic level of competency. Then try before you buy.

      3. Spend time at the driving range. Don't play on a golf course until you have reached a basic level of proficiency.

      4. Get lessons from a qualified professional with good qualifications. Ask other golfers for recommendations.

      5. Learn the three fundamentals; grip, stance and posture.

      6. Watch the pros. Read books and watch videos your instructor recommends for tips on technique.

      7. Practice. Practice. Practice.

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      Core Exercises for Golfers

      One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of tuning the body for golf is improving core strength. A powerful and well-balanced golf swing can be enhanced by strengthening these lower back, oblique and abdominal muscles.

      Abdominal Crunches

      1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent comfortably.

      2. Keeping shoulders squared, raise the body towards the knees. Concentrate on keeping abdominal muscles tight as you raise and lower upper body. Complete in sets of three with 15 to 25 reps, depending on strength level.

      Note: Do not pull the head forward when performing this movement and be sure to keep your feet placed on the floor throughout the entire crunch.

      Seated Torso Twist

      1. Sit on the floor holding a medicine ball with knees bent. Lean back slightly with torso straight and lift feet off the floor.

      2. Rotate to the right, squeezing the abs and touch the medicine ball to the floor.

      3. Come back to center and rotate to the left.

      4. Repeat, alternating sides for three sets of 15 to 25 reps (one rep is to the right and left).

      Supermans

      1.Lie on your stomach on a rug or mat.

      2.Lift only your legs and chest 6 to 12 inches off the ground and hold for a count of 10. Focus on the contraction of the lower back muscles. Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets.

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      Warm Up Your Golf Game

      Below are just a few of many golf warm-ups and stretching exercises that can help prevent injury and improve performance. Flexibility exercises should be performed before your game and at least four times a week for 10 to 15 minutes. Be sure to warm up the body first by high-step walking for a few minutes before stretching.

      Side Stretch

      Stand with your feet slightly apart, aligned with your shoulders, hips facing forward. Lift your left hand in the air and stretch to the side over your head. Hold the position, release and repeat with your right arm.

      Lateral Back Stretch

      Hold a club with both hands over your head. Keeping the hips steady, bend as far as you can to your right side and hold. Slowly return to the upright position and repeat to the left side.

      Toe Touch

      Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward at the waist, as close as you can to touching your toes. Do not bounce. If you have a bad back you can sit on a bench and lean over to touch your toes instead.

      Trunk Rotation

      From a sitting position with your hips facing forward, rotate your body all the way to the right. Look over your shoulder and hold. If you need to, you can grab hold of the back of the bench or seat. Repeat for the left side.



      Hamstring Stretch

      While standing upright, place your left foot on a chair or bench. Bend forward at the waist while keeping your back straight. Repeat for the right side.

      Quad Stretch

      Standing with your feet close together, grab your left ankle behind you and flex your knee as far as it will go towards your buttocks. Avoid leaning forward. Repeat for the right side. You may hold on to a bench or cart for balance if necessary.

      Calf Stretch

      Place your right foot about eighteen inches in front of your left foot. Keep your left heel on the ground as you lean forward, flexing your right knee as you go until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Repeat for the right side.
  • Oh, it may look easy. All you have to do is stand over the ball and take a swing, right? Any new golfer might choke (pun intended) at the thought of hitting a long one down the fairway as being easy. While golf doesn't require any particular athletic ability, a level of fitness can be a real advantage in avoiding the sprains and strains that can result from energetic bending, twisting and swinging.
    If you've decided golf is your next endeavor, there's a smart way to keep yourself out of the bunkers as you learn this challenging game. Before you head out on the "dance floor," a few lessons from a pro will help develop a solid drive, effective putting techniques and reinforce good habits that will likely be a positive influence toward improving your score. More importantly, learning correct technique can prevent being sidelined by an injury.
    Playing it safe
    Brian Saling knows exactly where it hurts when treating patients with after-game complaints, as he is both a golfer and a physical therapist with Providence Eagle Point Physical Therapy. He advocates lessons as a starting place to avoid common injuries.
    "Taking lessons is a huge advantage because it will help you drive the ball further and help you stay in the fairway more, but it will also make your swing more mechanically appropriate for your body so there's much less risk of injuring your shoulder or causing a back problem," he says.
    According to Saling, back strains are the most common injury. These strains can occur when golfers try to muscle up and make up for a bad shot or they're standing on uneven ground, he says. "It's usually the recovery shot where they end up hurting themselves. That's why we go for more of an active stretch."
    Saling says the more active the stretch, the more effective it is. "We show people how to stretch out their backs and shoulders, things you can do right out on the golf course to loosen up before the game. We start with moves that mimic the activity, and then build with a light swinging of the club. We add some high-stepping and walking lunges and that gets the heart rate up, which pumps a little more blood to the muscles so that they can withstand the stress better."
    Flexibility is also an important part of being able to swing a golf club effectively. "It definitely does help the more flexible you are in your hamstrings and your hips, and the degree of mobility in your upper arms and forearms," agrees Vince Domenzain of Medford's Centennial Golf Club, a PGA professional with 20 years in the game. He noted there are fitness programs that include exercises specifically oriented to golf.
    Getting started
    Beginners can get off to a safer and more effective start with lessons. Most local courses employ or are affiliated with an exerperienced PGA (Professional Golfers' Association of America) professional.
    "If you're going to take up golf, you're a lot better off to go to a PGA professional for lessons," advises Rogue Valley native Scott Lusk, who is the head professional with Stone Ridge Golf Course in Eagle Point. "Anybody can say they're a golf instructor, but a PGA professional has to have approximately five years of instruction to be a Class A instructor."
    To get the basic fundamentals of the golf swing usually takes about five lessons, Lusk says. "That gives beginners a good foundation. By then, they have a good idea of how much fun the game is going to be what they need to do to get better."
    In addition to learning the skills, there is an overwhelming array of equipment to select, each with unique characteristics. For instance, who knew that the dimpling on a golf ball can determine its flight?
    Domenzain says the advice of an expert can be invaluable. "If a person is just a raw beginner to the game, a big advantage to working with golf professionals is that we can advise clients about fitting and getting started with the correct equipment. A lot of times people start out with the clubs their dad used or their uncle gave them, and it's probably not the exact clubs they should be using. An instructor can evaluate what set makeup they should have and the type of clubs and the length of shafts."
    Once these recommendations are made, Domenzain says there is no shortage of used equipment available which can be a much more economical way to get started. "I know some of the golf shops take trade-ins and do resale and that's a good way to get an inexpensive set and still have decent quality clubs," he says. "Then if people decide they want to be a little more committed to the game, they can get fitted and get the correct set makeup."
    Connecting with a teacher
    Though many people are very serious about their golf game, and for the more experienced player, it can be highly competitive, Lusk reminds beginners that the most important thing is to relax and enjoy the process. "Find a good instructor, and sometimes, it may not be the first guy you go to," he says. "But find somebody who wants to have fun, because there are lots of different teaching styles and it's important to feel comfortable with someone."
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