Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Learning how to warm up...

Tiger Woods warms up for 45 minutes prior to playing golf and states the following: "Ideally, you should stretch until you break a sweat, so you go to the course warm. Without a doubt, it helps performance and nerves on the first tee."

When he talks about "stretching", he probably doesn't mean he bends down to touch his toes for 45 minutes. He uses an elite trainer, like the guys at Athletes Performance, who have designed the Core Performance training program for golfers (they train numerous pros from the PGA & LPGA tours, MLB & the NFL).

I typically arrive at the club about 15 minutes before I tee off, head to the locker room to change into my golf shoes, swing the Momentus weighted club about ten times, and then hit a few chips and few putts. This is probably why I always hit the ball much better on the back nine than the front nine!

Now I have begun the 12 week Golf Training program through Core Performance and use this routine before I play golf and to begin each workout.

It definitely gets me sweating a little bit before I hit the first tee and actually readies the muscles that are used in the golf swing. I still swing the Momentus and try to get a feel for the speed of the greens, but the movement prep will serve as the centerpiece of my pre-round and pre-workout routine moving forward.

The goal of movement prep is to awaken your muscles for the remainder of the day, while traditional static stretches (like touching your toes) simply relax your muscles for a short period of time. Static stretching is good for you, but should be done after you play golf or complete your workout.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to the grind...

Labor Day always comes with a little bit of a letdown for me. While the best golf weather of the year is still ahead of me, most of the competitive golf season is over.

Our Club Championship is contested on Labor Day and the course is aerated the day after. I decided I would take a couple weeks away from the game and took my wife to the beach.

I was back on the course over the weekend and had modest rounds of 78 & 80, but felt pretty good about the way I was swinging the club. I think the two weeks off definitely helped my mental state.

Today I turn 28 and my determination to improve is greater than ever. My goal is to be a scratch golfer by next weekend the time I turn 30. I think it's definitely within reach, I just need to spend my time working on the right things.

Until the season is "officially" over on November 15th, I'm going to strictly work on physical fitness. I'll still be going to the range, but I'm going to wait until 11/16 to start more intensive work on overhauling my swing. I plan on including some video on the blog when I start this process.

Until then, I'll detail my workouts, try to document any physical changes and let you know how that translates to the course. I'm curious to see if I'll notice a difference in my game based strictly on improving my physical fitness.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Winning cures everything...

There is a saying in sports that "winning cures everything". I don't know who said it, but I do know it's true!

After a few weeks of golfing misery, I had a great weekend. It served as a nice reminder of why I love the game and continue to commit so much of my time, energy & money to it!

Saturday was a busy day, but it went as well as I could have expected. My first round club championship match was at 7:30AM and then our club was participating in the state team inter-club playoffs, which began at 1:00pm at a club about 25 minutes away. This scheduling snafu caused a lot of grief for the 12 players trying to fit in their first round matches and still play for the team.

With that said, there's nothing wrong with having a good reason to play 36!

My morning round got off to an interesting start: After missing the green with my approach to the easy, par 4 first hole; I had to make a 12 footer to save par and halve the hole. From there, something clicked and I proceeded to hit all but two of the remaining greens in regulation. It was as pure a ball-striking day as I have had this season. Oddly enough, I made absolutely ZERO putts and even had a three-putt, but was pretty satisfied with a 73 and, more importantly, the 4&2 win over one of our clubs most notorious trash-talkers.

After finishing my morning round, I hopped in the car and headed out to Chestnut Ridge Country Club, where the afternoon's playoff was being held. The format is foursomes, with two points being awarded for winning the front, back & overall (for a total of six possible points). Six two-man teams from our club play two-man teams from each of the other five clubs involved, and the point total earned by all of the teams from each club is then added to the season total. The season total was accumulated during club vs. club matches held previously throughout the summer.

My partner and I came to the ninth hole after having won the 8th to pull the match back to square. With a miracle up-and-down by my partner, combined with a brutal three-putt by our opponent, we stole the hole and won the front nine.

From there, we cruised to victory on the back, collecting all six points. My solid play from the morning round continued and there is definitely an added element of joy when you win a match with a partner. The rest of our team also played well and we easily won the event. Unfortunately, as the points were added up for the season, we ended up a mere two points out of the two final spots that would play for the season ending championship (to be held at the immaculate Caves Valley Country Club).

Usually that would have left me feeling bummed out, but after 36 holes of really good golf, I settled into the couch and watched the Baltimore Ravens dominate the Panthers while the starters were in. This was a good day!


If you're curious as to what magical change helped bring me out of my funk, I'll share it with you: S-L-O-W

When you feel as though you're taking the club back really, really SLOW... go SLOWER.

I tend to get very quick either midway through my takeaway or in my transition, robbing myself of power at impact. You want the clubhead to be at maximum speed at impact, not before. When I focus on taking the club away slowly, it helps my timing and helps me accelerate through the ball.

Different swing thoughts work for different players and what works today can fail miserably tomorrow. However, this one can never hurt you and helped my balance, rhythm and timing all weekend long.