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Gearing up for the golf season

Jason SuttonBy Jason Sutton,
Contributor

The question that I am often asked by my students who don't play or practice during the winter months is what do they need to do to get ready for the upcoming season. Most people think that taking a lesson is the first move to getting tuned up.

Although this will become important, I think you are getting ahead of yourself. The first thing is to go to your garage or closet, get your clubs out of the corner, knock the dust off of them and begin to inspect your equipment.

The second thing is to check your overall health and fitness level. I will go into further detail for each of these areas as I begin this first installment of three and we start to get everyone ready for the upcoming golf season. So get out your pencil and paper and let's get started.

Check Equipment

Check your grips - If they are shiny and they double as a mirror, it is time to replace them. The average golfer who plays twice a week needs to change grips at least once a year. New grips could mean as many as two to three shots a round.

Check the condition of your golf shoes - soft spikes are more comfortable and easier on the turf, but tend to wear out faster than metal spikes. New soft spikes at the beginning of every season will improve your traction especially in the wet spring.

Check your golf gloves and golf balls - There is nothing like a new glove to start your season and give a better hold on the club. To give your gloves a longer life, store them in a sandwich bag. This will keep them dry in bad weather and keep them from dry rotting.

Check the grooves in your irons and wedges - Clean the dirt from the grooves with a wire brush and soapy water. This is especially important for the short irons and wedges, where you want to spin the ball. Can't expect to control the spin with dirt in your grooves.

Get fit for new clubs - For the golfer who enjoys keeping up with the latest technology in equipment and tends to change drivers or putters as often as they change clothes, please see an expert club fitter to make sure you have the correct lie angle, shaft flex and grip size before purchasing new golf clubs. It is important that your equipment works for you instead of against. HEALTH AND FITNESS

Twenty years ago, golf and fitness were not two terms that were used in the same sentence that often. When studying golf closely, I've noticed a higher level of fitness for the top players of today. Golfers on the PGA, Champions, and LPGA tours more physically fit and have an awareness of health than ever before.

Players of all levels are realizing the connection between being in great shape and playing good golf. When your golf muscles are flexible and strong, it makes your golf motion easier to achieve.

Gary Player, who currently plays the Champions tour, was the first to incorporate a strength program while playing golf at a high level. He was way ahead of his time, and his longevity is proof that it works.

There is no coincidence that the No. 1 players on the PGA and LPGA tours, Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam, work as hard strength, flexibility, and good eating habits as they do on their golf games. They understand the important relationship between physical fitness and athleticism in golf. The next question is what kind of exercise is right for you? My suggestion is to do something that you can enjoy and that you can live with. Here are some suggestions: Always consult a doctor before starting any fitness program.

Walking/Jogging

Running is the best exercise for the thigh and calf muscles. This is so important in golf as it will give you a stronger foundation. It will also help to build stamina for later in the round when fatigue could set in. Many tour professional choose this type exercise.

Cycling or Swimming

once again these will both build strength in your trunk and keep the muscles toned and fit. Any type of aerobic exercise is beneficial to your game.

Weight Training

Consult a knowledgeable fitness trainer to build a program that works the areas in the body that will help your golf swing. Muscle groups that are important for golf are the legs, trunk, abdominals, shoulders, wrists and forearms. Avoid building too much mass in the chest and lats.

Stretching is crucial

The most important aspect of any fitness program is stretching before and after your program. This is how the pros are able to lift weights, build muscles but also maintain their flexibility and range of motion.

Now that you have checked and upgraded your equipment, started your new workout program and are eating healthier, you are on your way to becoming stronger and healthier. What do you do next? The next two segments will include the keys to building a world class short game, and full swing ideas with great drills that will get you on your way to having a great golf season.

PGA Professional Jason Sutton is a Master Instructor at the Dana Rader Golf School in Charlotte, N.C. Jason has been honored as a leading teacher in the southeast by Golf Magazine. He teaches students ranging from beginners to top amateurs and tour-level players.

 
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