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Shape UP Your Golf Game

May 8, 2012

by Martha Hicks Leta

Golf. It’s a game invented perhaps a thousand years ago by lowly shepherds whacking at meadow muffins with sticks as they followed their grazing sheep through the Scottish moors, yet endures in our tech-enslaved, time-crunched society. In the US alone it’s estimated some 26 million people indulge in this sometimes pain-inducing sport.

Arnold Palmer once said, “Success in golf depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character.” With his recent string of injuries, Tiger Woods might beg to differ with “The King.” This past March Tiger gimped off the Doral Open course with an injured Achilles tendon, passing up the chance at a $1.4 million prize. The Doral marked the third time in as many years the once seemingly invincible player has had to withdraw due to injury.

Dina Whalen of Fitness Together in Lynnfield knows a thing or two about helping her clients prepare for the links. Recently certified as a Golf Fitness Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, her specialty lies in helping golfers improve their swing while avoiding injuries.

Fitness training for golf? you ask. Isn’t that a bit over indulgent? While golf may appear to require little in the way of cardio endurance or physical strength, Whalen says the training component is essential to achieve optimum performance over the long term. “Golf is a sport that most people think you don’t have to be in good physical shape for. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Proper programming including flexibility, stability, strength, and power will ensure the golfer will enjoy the sport for years to come.”

Whalen says that with her added certification in Golf Fitness, she has a deeper understanding of golf related injuries and is able to utilize exercises to correct swing faults, improper posture and poor flexibility.

“The golf swing creates intense loading forces on the body that are rapid and complex. The forces in the low back during a drive can exceed 8 times the body weight!” adds Whalen. “As a result, the incidence rate of low-back injuries is 50% for the amateur player. This statistic suggests that half of all golfers will incur a lower back injury at some point in their playing careers.”

An avid golfer plays somewhere in the neighborhood of 37 rounds per year, not including time on the practice range. This means a high rate of repetitive movement, which can lead to injuries from incorrect motion and wear and tear on joints and ligaments. Add to that the fact that many people play golf well into their retirement years and the potential for injury from trauma or overuse is increases drastically. This means that a fit golfer is a better golfer over the long term.

“People think that by spending more money on better golf clubs and gadgets, they can improve their game, but the truth is the only way to improve a score is to make improvements on the golfer,” says Whalen. “A golfer’s conditioning program must therefore be designed to integrate the whole body.”

When designing a proper fitness routine for golf, Whalen says the primary focus must be on four factors: flexibility, stability, strength and power.

“It’s important to address these factors in the correct order,” she emphasizes. “With the proper workout, a golfer can develop the ability to hit the ball farther and more precisely.”

Cathy Schaum, owner of Fitness Together in Tyngsboro agrees. Though she doesn’t hold a certification in golf training, as a certified personal trainer with years of experience, she’s been able to deliver great results for her clients on the golf course. She says when she reflects on the golfers she’s worked with, one client in particular comes to mind. Rich came to FT Tyngsboro several years ago at the behest of his wife, who was tired of seeing her husband come home from the golf course sore and dejected.

“When I met Rich, he was very frustrated with his golf. Not only the performance, but just getting through the first 9 holes. He was miserable,” Schaum remembers. “Because he was so stiff, it took 9 holes before he was warmed up and relaxed.”

Though Rich was resistant to the concept of working out, Schaum was able to design a course of training that he enjoyed. Rich’s program was tailored toward building the strength in his knees, lower back and shoulders, while increasing over all flexibility. By incorporating twisting motions into many of the exercises, Schaum was ably to help Rich get his swing back.

By the time Rich hit the links the following spring, he noticed dramatic improvements in his game and his over all energy levels. Best of all, the pain and stiffness that had been nagging at his knees and lower back were more or less gone.

“The weight training, exercise and nutrition advice have really paid off,” Rich wrote to Schaum. “I’m just getting into the golf season and clearly in the best shape I’ve been in for MANY years. The scores show it and the big thing is how I feel during and after each round. I played three straight days on the Cape a few weeks ago and had the lowest total gross scores on the 20 man roster!”

Whether for golf, gardening or other fitness goals, the trainers at Fitness Together work with each client to ensure that their goals are accomplished, delivering the greatest results in the least amount of time while keeping clients on the proper path to physical fitness.


To schedule an appointment with Golf Fitness Specialist Dina Whalen, or to find out about FT Lynnfield’s spring specials call 781-780-7591. | FT Lynnfield

Find out more about Dina here.


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