Hooray – Back to Golf!
I am sure many of you regular golfers feel like it’s an absolute age since you last played golf. I have talked to several players and quite a lot have not picked a club up over this period of lockdown. So, what sort of things should we look out for in relation to our game’s sharpness.
I would think that most of us will be just delighted to be out on the links again but the competitive juices can kick in quite quickly and the enjoyment perspective can easily be overshadowed by the expectations of ourselves in playing sport. Even though we will be playing social golf, this competitive inner self is something that is part of reasons why we play sport although it does vary from person to person. The reasoning part of our brain will be able to work out that we are likely to be rusty especially in the feel or fine motor skill areas like short game and coordination issues. But this driven area of ourselves can sometimes override this reasoning and create unrealistic expectations. Having a good outlook will always help but I think it is worth making a bit of goal to try and work at this area in the early part of getting back to golf especially if your one of those golfers who can let the frustration of hitting bad shots overspill into your game and enjoyment.
Having had a forced layoff from golf it would be very unfortunate for this inactivity to be extended because of an injury sustained when coming back to golf. The forces and pressure we can put our body under when swinging a club can be very substantial, it can be as high as four times a person’s weight pushing back into the body from the ground in aggressive athletic swings. Also I mentioned in my last article body speed is something that can drop off if we have a period of inactivity. My suggestion would be to go out to begin with, with the intention of swinging at 70% of your normal speed/rhythm. I think some golfers will be surprised how effective this can be.
The other aspect that may help in relation to injury prevention is warming up or loosening up before playing. I know that many golfers would normally just head straight out to the course and some would hit some balls on the range (we may not have full use of all the facilities at the course to start with). Regardless of what you would have done in the past I would strongly suggest you find 5 minutes and in a quiet place to do some stretching and movement exercises before you play for a least the first 3 or 4 games back. You never know you might find it helps your performance as well as helping reduce the chance of injury.
Another area you might consider is the rhythm and coordination of your swing. This is something that can fluctuate even if we are playing regular so I would suggest this is a good drill to do at any time. A lot of the miscoordination can be tied into balance of lack of it in a swing. Take a medium iron and swing the club but do it with your feet together. Try to focus on your center lines of your body (looking at your swing from face on) staying in place. Obviously having your feet together should make you more aware of your balance. If the range or practice area is open this is even more effective when hitting balls.
To summarize I have suggested that we make an effort to set realistic expectations and take the opportunity to work at the mental approach to our game. When you have finished your round mark yourself out of 10 how well you did on this aspect of your game. Give some strong consideration to some of the physical implications that could arise out of being inactive for a number of weeks. Spend some time preparing your body in readiness to swing and walking a good number of kilometers again. Swing the club easy and try the feet together drill to assist with balance and coordination. Above all enjoy your golf and stay safe.