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|The SKLZ Golf Fitness Package includes everything you need to stay in shape over the winter. (Courtesy of SKLZ)|
Riding on the toboggan of life, hurtling down a steep, snowy slope toward decrepitude, it occurs to me that I can no longer afford to take the "off-season" off.
You see, I like to cook, and I love to eat, and I simply adore lying on the couch. So if I actually take time off from golf over the winter, by the time spring rolls around my golf swing will look like I'm trying to stab a meatball instead of hitting a golf ball.
SKLZ, which is fast becoming a premier sports training equipment company, offers several extensive lines of golf-specific training gear, focusing on both golfers' swings and fitness.
New for 2012 are the Golf Fitness Package (approximately $135) and the Golf Accuracy Package ($190). When these showed up at my door, I swear I heard my neglected abs mutter a meaty and muffled, "Thank you."
The Golf Fitness Package includes five tools to improve core strength, rotational velocity, stability and balance, which are all key elements for a solid golf swing. The package consists of a Medicine Ball, Lateral Resistor, Recoil 360°, Balanz Board and Stability Ball. The exact pricing for this package varies based on the size of the Stability Ball and the weight of the Medicine Ball.
The Lateral Resistor and Recoil 360° are resistance bands that can be used outdoors or indoors (if you have enough space). My son enjoyed putting the end of one of the lunge-line-like recoil bands under the leg of the coffee table and sprinting across the living room until it yanked him backward. (Probably not exactly the recommended use, however.)
Personally, I find the Medicine Ball and Stability Ball the best for off-season workouts: I can do all sorts of core and abs work while watching college basketball or silly-season events. On the other end of the spectrum, the Balanz Board doesn't feel to me to be quite sturdy enough to stand on or do push-ups on. I'm worried it's going to snap. (Maybe more work with the other gear first).
The Golf Accuracy Package includes some gadgets and aids better suited for use at the range, along with some that are suitable for indoor use. The Refiner Pro Graphite Driver hinged club gives instant feedback on swing tempo and swing plane. The Smash Bag provides immediate feedback on swing plane and angle of attack. The Smart Glove keeps the forward wrist straight at impact and prevents casting. The Practice Pod Pro Alignment Guide keeps the golf stance square and in line at the range.
Of all of these, so far the Refiner Pro Graphite Driver and the Smart Glove are my favorites for off-season use. The Smart Glove incorporates a plastic piece at the back of the wrist to prevent against over-cocking the wrist and to promote a more bowed, draw-conducive hand position at the top. The refiner driver quickly exposes tempo and plane flaws in your swing. With some practice (in the snow-dusted yard, as shivering neighbors looked quizzically on), I was able to eventually take full-speed swings without the hinge collapsing the second I began my takeaway.
The practice pod, alas, will have to wait until the practice range opens up in the spring, but it looks extremely promising in helping me sort out my sometimes serious alignment troubles. The Smash Bag is the one piece I'm less sure about. After filling it with towels and smacking it a few dozen times, I'm not quite sure what it did for me, other than helping me break a sweat.
If you're interested in doing a favor for yourself or a golfer in your life this off-season, consider the SKLZ packages.
Somewhat paradoxically, winter is too long and life is too short to just lie around waiting for the grass to re-emerge. Start working toward that magical first round of the new season today.
For more information, visit www.SKLZ.com.
December 13, 2011
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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