As the final 2010 golf column dawns in this publication, readers have a substantial agenda to look forward to. One, good weather may even proceed through November, extending the season for those who couldn't play much during the torrid summer days.
Two, off-season stretching and strengthening makes more sense than ever. A 30-minute program, a couple of times a week will fight the aging process that slowly robs baby boomers of distance on their shots.
This is one of the issues addressed at Somers Point-based GS Fitness, which continually expands its scope from the low-handicap player looking for small improvement to 50-something athletes trying to keep pace.
Building muscle back into a player - primarily an off-season program of stretching and weight training - will pay dividends in the spring. Many players in their 50s experience a gradual decrease in power. Unless it is addressed, golfers slowly lose more yardage and make some holes play 40 to 50 yards longer.
"Many players will reach the point where they either won't improve or start declining or perhaps even suffer an injury as they get older," says Aaron Bada, founder of GS Fitness. "We can do something about that."
How does strength training align itself with better golf? Bada demonstrated a proper golf swing with weight resistance and then took virtually the same swing on the first tee at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point. The two-picture package shows how a player can build up his lats, triceps and shoulder muscles and gain additional distance with the right swing.
While strength training has become increasingly important here, GS Fitness began as a place for swing analysis a few years ago. A player's posture and swing plane can be broken down by computer, revealing the angle of one's spine, whether the player was balanced and if the ball was struck on the sweet spot of the club or on the toe.
One prime beneficiary is 57-year-old John Regina. The Northfield resident, already a pretty respectable player with a 13 handicap, began visiting the club a couple of months ago. In a recent session, Bada broke down Regina's swing, prompting a discussion as to whether the bigger swing that produced a few extra yards was worth the price in accuracy. They also discussed a knock-down shot (about three-quarters club strength). Because the knockdown is a semi-contrived swing, computer analysis is particularly helpful.
"I first came here because my physicality (strength) was not everything I wanted it to be," Regina says. "You realize that you can't fix everything yourself. Aaron first addressed my posture and flexibility. I'm able to rotate my shoulders now without it creating a distraction.
"Another good thing that comes from this is the education. Sometimes when you are on a course, you can lose something in the swing and not get it back for the entire round. I think that from what I've picked up here, I can find something I'm doing wrong, right in the middle of the game, and make an adjustment."
Regina says he chopped his handicap to a 10. That's a significant drop at this talent level, about a three-stroke improvement for someone already shooting in the 80s.
This is just one story. To gain further information, contact GS Fitness at
Enjoy a great off-season and we'll talk to you next spring.
The off-season approaches
As the weather cools, the At The Shore Golf section is taking a break. Look for it to return in spring.