Getting To A Single Digit Handicap- Part 2: Stretching
As I expound on the magic dozen tips, hits and tricks that can lower your handicap index to something under ten, I will most often be using myself as the example of what not to do. Here is just one of them.
Those who know me know I’m a pretty stocky individual. Even when I was in my best shape, in college and into my thirties, I never had the golfer body. I would be less in the Justin Rose category and more in the Craig Stadler category. I have a big chest and shoulders, so making that massive turn and tucking my chest under my chin on the backswing has always been a swing thought more than a swing achievement.
For people like me, and quite possibly you, stretching before playing has become more and more an integral part of the routine. [Read more about what PGA Professional and Director of Golf at Oglebay Resort Danny Ackerman told me about stretching HERE]
Last Sunday was my first time out on a course this year. I’ve been to the range three or four times, and a few additional trips were to the practice putting green. But I had not been on the course to actually play.
With temperatures predicted to be in the mid-60’s, and nothing really on the agenda, we decided to chance the weather being nice enough to make it happen.
It rained all day Saturday. It rained all Sunday morning. In fact, it was misty and foggy when we left for the course. I wondered if they would be open, to be honest.
But they were. Cart paths only, but they were open. BUT…the range was closed. And that eliminated my plan to hit balls, get loose, and feel somewhat comfortable stepping on the first tee. Instead, on a cool, very wet early afternoon, I had as my warm-up routine about ten minutes on the putting green, and another ten minutes or so of static stretching and swinging.
The first few holes were, well, ugly is being generous.
And the value of stretching and being loose before stepping on the first tee has never been more apparent.
There Is A Reason It Got Better
Because the course was so wet and because it was our first round of the year (I don’t think I’ve ever played a wetter golf course ever. Every single shot was played from a soggy lie. At least 40% of every fairway was casual, if not standing, water. Needless to say, there was no rollout on any shot) we agreed we wouldn’t keep score and just play to work the kinks out.
And that was a smart thing to do for me. My first three holes were beginner/hacker golf calibre.
But then- I loosened up. I had swung enough that my body began to loosen, and I started swinging and stopped hitting. I parred the fourth hole. I parred the eighth hole. And after going par-par to start the back nine, I told my wife, “I’m going to keep score and see what happens on the back.”
I birdied twelve, bogeyed thirteen, parred fourteen, and was even through five on the back nine. I played the final four holes in four over for a 40, but the point is this: I was loose. I had stretched. I was able to have my arms, and chest, and back and hips do what they know how to do.
Stretching is Critically Important For Me- And Probably You
Maybe you can jump out of the car and run to the first tee and know how your swing is going to react. I can’t. I already knew that, but Sunday’s round confirmed it. Again.
And even if I could, I can’t when it’s damp and cool.
Stretching is a must. It is something I try and do every morning, but is something I have determined is just as important to a good round of golf as practice putting before a round.
A round of golf doesn’t get to start on the third, or fourth, or eighth hole when we feel like we are now loose and ready. It starts on the first tee.
I’m on Twitter (and if you are, feel free to follow me at @shootingyourage ). One of the people I’ve run into there is the Fit Golfer Girl @fitgolfergirl. She is all about stretching and golf workout exercises. I would recommend her web page and Twitter page. There are dozens of golf-specific stretching exercises that all of us can benefit from.
If you are of the baby boomer era you need to stretch more. Especially before going to play.
And if you have as a goal trying to lower your handicap, keep in mind that the score on the first hole is just as important as the score on the thirteenth hole. Getting off to a good start can make or break a round, and being mentally and physically prepared before stepping on the first tee is paramount to making that happen.
Next Week We Explore Preparation for Knee Replacement Surgery
Next week I’ll talk about what’s been happening for my knee replacement surgery which will take place in a couple of weeks. Chances are, you will have a joint replacement at some point (there are hundreds of thousands of knee replacements done each year in the U.S.) Maybe some of my prep will help you when you start thinking about it.
Until next week, thanks for reading, and Enjoy Shooting Your Age!