While the golf season lasts until December for many, and all-year round for a few, this is the 18th hole of this season's At The Shore golf column.
In that vein, here's our annual season-ending tip segment, courtesy of Aaron Bada's Golf Specific Fitness in Somers Point (www.gsfitness.com, 609-338-7599). Bada has built a strong business trying to help golfers prevent injuries and work on their swing mechanics.
"Being that this is the one sport you can play your entire life, there are a number of things which are appropriate at different stages of your life to build your strength and help you avoid injury." Bada says.
To illustrate the golf-fitness marriage, he stood atop an exercise ball while demonstrating the mechanics of a swing. One would never try this at home, but Bada's interesting idea captured the correlation between routine physical health and golf. Routines such as Pilates and strengthening exercises form a muscular foundation for the player. Injuries do happen in this non-contact sport, especially to older players. Preventative medicine begins in the off-season and carries through the season.
Choose what fits your convenience level from among the following nine areas. One can think of these as a "nine-hole off-season conditioner" and play as many as you can.
Make it a fun, 15-minute routine - The key is to be consistent. Find a few stretches that not only work but are fun for you. Repeat them often during the off-season.
Strengthen lower body - All the strength in a golfer's swing begins in the legs. Distance and power come from the ground up. Working on glutes, hamstrings and quads help in this area.
Stretch your neck - Players need full, flexible neck movement in order to ensure a full shoulder turn. This exercise can be as simple as looking over each shoulder for a few seconds at a time.
Rotator cuff - Back injuries are the No. 1 injury in the game. You know what's No. 2? Rotator cuffs. Players should do whatever makes them comfortable here to maintain the health of an important physical area.
Flexible hamstrings - Balky hamstrings definitely affect players as they age and as they either play into the cold months of the year or start in windy March. Tight hamstrings can lead to muscle pulls. Work on the glutes and back exercises to enhance flexibility here.
Core work - Abdominals are the links to the shoulders and hips. All movements generate from here. One tip: contract your midsection and hold it for five seconds. Anything else that strengthens the abdominals makes sense here. Planks are one good exercise.
Ball, band and roll - These are some of the tools to perform the right exercises. The exercise ball enhances stability, the resistance band improves strength and the foam roller works on flexibility. This equipment is effective whether it's the off-season or mid-season.
Pilates and yoga - A big exercise ball can help you set up a Pilates regimen. How important is yoga? There is a book out called "Yoga For Golfers," indicating a number of stretching and strengthening techniques.
A strong back - Chiropractors have documents on stretching, which helps an important part of the game, posture. Poor posture leads to bad alignment and a less-than-perfect swing, not to mention significant pain. This is the No. 1 injury area in golf and thus a perfect spot to address.