Golf – More than a walk in the park

Golf is a game enjoyed by people of all different shapes and sizes and levels of fitness. Whether you are in peak golfing performance like Tiger Woods, or an overweight pensioner just getting into a fitness lifestyle, golf can accommodate all. That said don’t be fooled into thinking that golf doesn’t offer a good work out, by the images of wealthy middle-aged men and women riding along in a golf cart.


Ditching the golf cart and walking between holes, as the game was meant to be played, can burn between 400 - 700 calories per 18 hole round of golf. Whilst it may take a few hours, what better way to keep fit than strolling through wide, rolling fairways surrounded by nature. Plus the action of swinging a golf club requires mental focus for long periods and consistent accuracy to aim for a flag in the distance. And hitting a small ball with a club hard enough to get it onto the green takes considerable arm strength and core stability.


For those who normally shy away from the idea of physical exertion, playing golf is an excellent way to enjoy light exercise. Eighteen holes of golf mean at least a couple of hours spent outdoors, with plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Golf is also a great way to de-stress and remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of modern day life.


As a family activity, it is an ideal way to spend quality time with love ones. Unlike other more active pastimes, the gentle pace of golf allows for in depth conversations and time to foster and deepen your relationships.


A total wellness activity, golf helps you build a healthy body and a relaxed mind, while it also supports emotional wellbeing.


Historians have found evidence of golf-like games being played during the reign of Julius Caesar and the Song Dynasty in China during the years 960 to 1279. Although it was not the golf that is played today, it was a similar game. The roots of today’s game can be traced back to Scotland in 1457. The game was so popular that King James II of Scotland banned golf because he believed it detracted from training for the military.


During the 17th century golf, which had become a common pastime in Great Britain, was also beginning to spread globally. The first British Open golf tournament was played during 1860 and the first permanent golf club in North America, "Canada’s Royal Montreal Club”, was founded in Montreal, Canada, in 1873. By 1893 the United States had jumped on the new golf craze and opened the first 18-hole course in the US.


By the early 20th century, golf had assumed its familiar form. Golf courses standardised at 18 holes. Balls, once leather bags stuffed with feathers, were now resilient dimpled spheres that could be controlled and spun. Clubs became more specialised, enabling better and more sophisticated play.


In today’s modern game, the best golfers are those who not only exude skill and ability, but also the patience to take each round one hole at a time. Examples include 6 times Masters champion Jack Nicklaus, 3 times US Open Champion Ben Hogan, and 5 times British Open Champion Tom Watson.


Of course, many people like playing golf simply because they love the challenge that the sport creates. Choosing the right swing and knowing what and how to perform when confronted with various challenges is a lot of fun. It is also when many business deals are discussed and even closed!


Whilst golf may be gentle exercise, you can improve your game significantly by having greater muscle strength, flexibility, mobility, stability and core strength.


Being stronger means you can hit the ball further, which is a big advantage off the tee. Increased flexibility will increase the range of twist and swing you can employ to hit the ball. Being able to swing through and maintain your balance means you can put more into each shot and drive the ball further, which will reduce the number of shots you need to take to clear each hole.


A good weight shift is also important in the golf swing. However, if your hip muscles are tight and weak, you're more likely to produce an incorrect sliding motion of the hips rather than hip rotation. One way to help improve your weight shift is to work on strengthening your hip abductor muscles, for example using an abductor machine like the Element+ Abductor from Technogym. This can lead to a much better hip rotation during the swing.


Strong and stable core, back muscles, shoulders, forearms and legs gives a player greater control for precision fairway shots or shots onto the green, as well as with putting. Resistance bands, such as those found in the Wellness Bag from Technogym and functional training equipment such as Kinesis are ideal for developing muscles for golf. This is because they can be set up to mimic the motions of the golf swing, thus training the muscles in the way they are going to be worked. Strengthening your golfing muscles functionally will also help prevent injury while improving your golfing performance.


Whilst golf is a relatively low intensity exercise, building up your stamina through cardiovascular exercises will improve your game by improving your overall fitness. Good stamina also helps you cope with high-pressure shots better by being able to focus and concentrate on getting your hole-winning putt right. Being overweight, physically unfit or lacking in stamina will have a negative impact on your performance and your game will deteriorate over time rather than improve. Who wants to be out of breath and totally exhausted half way round the 18 holes?


Building up your stamina will improve your cardio endurance - you will be able to walk or even run around all 18 holes on the golf course - plus it will also help you reach and/or maintain a healthy weight. Elliptical cross trainers, such as the SYNCHRO FORMA are an ideal way to build up your stamina for golf. These combine lower body lateral movement with an upper body convergent movement that involves the arms, torso and core to provide a balanced full body cardio workout