30 April 2007

Game On!

The golf season is well underway and it's time to get out and enjoy some of the two thousand three hundred and forty courses Japan has to offer! Whether you've been active or on the couch since ski season, warming up your body for golf is as equally important for the athlete, as it is for the couch potato! In this feature we'll give you some easy suggestions to ease your body back into shape and start you off on the right foot with proper posture.

Perhaps some of you might recall making that New Year's resolution way back in January to take active steps to improve that golf game... and that time has arrived! First thing to consider is not only warming up before your first round, but starting an exercise routine a few weeks in advance. Walking three to four times a week for 20 to 30 minutes a day or any like, light aerobic conditioning is a great way to prevent injuries while improving your stamina, thus, allowing you to focus on your game and not the location of the beer cart!

Before making that first ambitious swing you should note that a cold body is less flexible and muscle tissues are more likely to tear, so ideally you should begin to warm your body's temperature even before stretching. The couch potato might head straight for the Onsen hot baths, which actually isn't a bad idea, but some light calisthenics like jumping jacks or jogging on the spot will suffice. Once your blood starts circulating to the muscle tissues you can begin your stretching routine focusing on your shoulders, torso (mainly lower back), groin and legs.

Now to really isolate and stretch those swing specific muscles begin with some mini-swings with an iron keeping it waist level at first and slowly increasing the radius to a full swing. Grab another iron and swing holding two to really amplify the affect and stretch things out. *Note: be sure your body has readjusted back to the feel of just one club before making your first shot or your timing will be adversely affected.

Perfect Posture All Year!

Make a promise to yourself to achieve perfect posture during your set-up on every shot this year and you'll drastically improve your chances of hitting the ball. If you think in terms of a business plan, I'm sure you'll agree that attempting any venture from the wrong position (posture) drastically lessens your chances for success. The same holds true for the golf swing.

Good posture, a proper stance, and a bio-mechanically correct swing will keep you in the game longer by reducing the chances of a lower back injury while improving your overall consistency. Poor rounded posture and drooping head are the root causes of many miss hit shots. Ideally your spine should be as straight as possible and you can even check yourself by laying an iron flat on your back with your head touching the grip and the toe of the club head touching your tailbone.

This will put less stress on the lower back and help stop unnecessary up and down "bobbing" as your spine straightens mid-swing or remaining rounded (bent) causing lateral sliding left and right as you rotate through the swing. Both of these phenomena's usually manifest in the club head not returning to its original position which basically guarantees poor impact.

An easy image to help you achieve good posture is that of a tennis player getting ready to return a serve. You should feel like you are ready to push off to the left or the right laterally with your weight slightly favoring your in-step on both feet. You will notice that this image automatically gets your knees bent and your spine nice and straight with a natural forward tilt.

The proofs in the pudding" as my grandmother used to say! So make sure you start the season off right by giving your self the best possible chance to perform well and you'll see lasting, positive results all year! With that in mind there really is no better time than earlier in the season to check all your basic fundamentals and ensure they are correct, especially the set-up, including proper: Grip, Posture, Ball Position, Alignment and a good overall Athletic Stance. Note: the golf swing is hard enough, so there's no reason why you shouldn't get everything right, "every time"! For help with this see your nearest teaching professional or come out and see me at Gotemba Golf Club or Belle View Nagao G.C., only 1 hour and 20min from Tokyo, for a round lesson on the green grass with a Mt. Fuji view!

Bennett Galloway, 30 April 2007

Previous Columns
  • Japan Golf Tours
  • Gearing Up for Winter Golf
  • Respecting Your Game
  • Adrift in a Sea of Golf Balls
  • The Secret to Scoring Well "Shhh.....Don't Tell Anyone"!
  • Hakone, the Gem of Kanagawa and a Resort Golfers Paradise
  • Golf in Japan: A primer to golfing in Tokyo
  • Time to thaw out that golf swing
  • Golf made easy

  • About Bennett
    Bennett is a long time resident of Japan and the Director of Golf for Gotemba Golf Club and Belle View Nagao G.C., in Shizuoka near Mt. Fuji. Member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a teaching professional, providing lessons for all ages and abilities, in English or Japanese. He also specializes in in-bound golf tours to Japan with Golf Shizuoka and Golf Hakone.

    Contact Bennett »