10 Pro Tips for Playing the Best Golf of Your Life
IF YOU WANT TO GET A few extra yards and take a few strokes off your golf game, you’re probably tempted to splurge on a fancy new driver or revolutionary new golf ball. But the fact is, you can get even better results from proper preparation. Armed with nothing but a pro warm-up routine and a little know-how, you could add a dozen yards to your drive and take several strokes off your score card. Here’s how.
1. Warm up.
I wish two draft beers and half a cigar was a warm-up, but it is not. Full-body movements that include trunk flexing, extending and rotating are a great start. Other dynamic warm-up moves should target hip rotation in all directions. Lastly, making sure that your shoulders are prepared for all parts of your back swing and follow through will ensure a good first shot from the tee box.
Being only 10 percent dehydrated can lead to a loss of up to 5 percent of your ability to produce power. That means that if you’re used to hitting your 9-iron 130 yards, now you’ve lost 7 yards. You like hitting that 5-iron 180? Not anymore: If you’re dehydrated, you’re now only hitting it 170. Any good golfer knows how important being on your distances can be when trying to beat the course. It’s pretty hard to know how far you will hit your clubs if you are not properly hydrated.
3. Get fueled up.
If you think hydration is important for athletic output, then you’d better understand how vital proper pre-golf nutrition is to your success, too. Golf is a marathon with bouts of some pretty explosive movements. And, it all happens over the course of a lot of walking and strategizing. If you don’t have a good base of calories and blood sugar to start with, it’s like trying to drive from Virginia to Maine on a half tank of gas.
4. Keep fueling.
It’s so easy to get lost in the competition of the game of golf. The excitement of good shots. The frustration of duffs and slices. It’s all any of us can do to keep our heads together. Now, try limiting your brain’s energy source during a round and the mental game gets a lot harder. Something as simple as some trail mix, an energy drink or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will keep your mind sharp and your muscles purring.
5. Be strong.
This isn’t necessarily something you can do before each round of golf, but it should be in the forefront of your mind if getting better at golf is the goal. Any strength-building activity you enjoy and can do consistently will work. The important thing is knowing that strength is built in the off-season, sped up in the preseason and hopefully maintained in some manner during the season.
6. Be flexible.
You’re not going to see a lot of true flexibility gains from a few stretches before a round of golf. What you will feel is a much more prepared nervous system and improved joint mobility, which will translate to your golf game as more pure and efficient mobility. This is key for anyone trying to beat a course, break a distance mark or just get through a round without nagging aches and pains.
7. Seek coaching.
Lots of folks are good athletes or have played sports their entire lives, but things seem to change when they pick up a golf club; their athletic experience just doesn’t transfer. As a lifelong baseball athlete, I can speak to this frustration firsthand. There are few things more aggravating than having difficulty hitting that little white ball on the ground.
But put me, or any other experienced athlete, back into their familiar setting like holding a baseball bat, tennis racket or a basketball, and things feel right again. Once you get a pro to look at you swing a club and help you refine some of your technique, your game – and outlook – will improve.
8. Know good pain from bad pain.
Knowing the difference between “good” pain that’s part of progress and “bad” pain that leads to injury starts in off-season golf-strengthening programs and continues through life. Those of us who know what “good” pain is also spend less time sitting out practices or rounds of golf because we know how useful movement is for healing and furthering our own athletic progress.
This term might not be familiar to even serious golfers, but to a strength coach or a physical therapist, this is one of the most important pieces of the golf strength, injury prevention and performance puzzle. This is the term we use to describe how training programs change depending on a golfer’s current fitness level and the time of the year we’re working.
For example, how important is it for a golfer who lives in the mid-Atlantic or northeast to be the most explosive and most ready to play golf in December? Not very. So, seek golf-specific programming for all of the different phases of the year, as well as competition and play. In this way, you can get the most out of each phase and maximize your physical abilities during the golf season.
10. Rest and recover.
This shouldn’t be the first time any good golfer has heard that taking proper care of your body after some time at the range or after a round of golf is a good idea. This might, however, be the first time that you realize that it could be the single most important – and easiest – thing you can do to ensure a pain-free and rewarding golf season.