By: Ryan Klapper PT, DPT
The start of the golf season can be tough after having not picked up a club in months. We get that itch to get back on the course as soon as the weather allows, but often times our bodies are not ready for the sudden change in activity.
As the chill of a Wisconsin winter sets in, we tend to perform fewer rotational activities—throwing, hitting, playing sports, even running and walking. With a decrease in this type of movement, many of us like to think that we can pick up right where we left off and head to the range the instant the snow melts. The unfortunate truth is, our bodies become stiff from sitting and doing less activity all winter. It is important to get ours bodies in shape before we pick up and swing a golf club.
Most sports (football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, track, etc.) have specific warm-ups, exercises and workouts to complete that help maximize an athelte’s performance. A player would be deemed crazy to play a game, participate in a match or compete without a proper warm-up. Why should golf be any different?
Most of the professionals on the PGA or LPGA tour spend hours in a gym or trailer warming up, stretching, working out and preparing their bodies to play. They then spend more time on the range, chipping and putting.
Now, most amateurs do not need to spend this much time preparing for a casual round of golf. However, if you are golfing on a weekly basis, a consistent warm-up and practice routine is crucial in preventing injuries, improving consistency and increasing body awareness.Preventative measures ultimately lead to improved scoring as well.
Bad habits developed early in a golf season may take all summer to break. That’s why it is so important to take the extra time now and ease into the season rather than rushing into a round of 18.
A warm-up will allow you to build a strong foundation to get you ready for the season. With some easy movements and a daily routine, a golf swing and body control will come back quickly. Below you will find some warm-up exercises to practice before teeing it up.
Pre-Season Stretching Exercises
Complete a daily stretching and exercise routine a few weeks leading up the golf season. Some examples of beneficial stretches include the following:
- Arm circles
- Cross body or overhead arm stretching
- Quad and hamstring stretching
- Squats/squat jumps
- Shoulder rows
- Single leg balance
Try working on swings, both right- and left-handed, without hitting balls to get the flexibility back for your down swing and follow through.
- Complete swings standing on your trail leg, while using your lead leg only for balance and vice versa.
- Complete swings on your lead leg while using only your trail leg for balance.
- These exercises will allow you to feel the different muscles needed in each leg for proper swing mechanics.
- It will also help you determine if you are creating sway and slide rather than rotational movements.
- Focus on good ball striking and contact before increasing speed.
- Swing easy and work on rotational control.
- Develop a pre-shot routine and make it consistent so you approach each shot the same with the same thought process.
- This could be picking a line, thinking of ball flight, determining stance or which club to play.
- Work on developing a practice game plan for the range—create some intent rather than just hitting balls to get swings in.
- Wedges, irons, woods, ball flight, chipping, putting—any combination of these will work.