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News & Tours

PGA Tour caddies furious after being forced to take shelter from storm in metal shed

Earlier this month, PGA Tour caddies filed a $50 million class-action lawsuit against the tour. And what happened on Saturday at the Honda Classic certainly isn't going to make that go away.

As severe thunderstorms hit PGA National, play was suspended -- and ultimately, postponed -- sending players and fans to seek shelter. But while players huddled in the clubhouse, caddies, who aren't given clubhouse access during PGA Tour events, had to take cover in a metal shed on the course. Here's a tweet from Robert Streb's caddie, Steve Catlan:

Later, Scott Vail, who works for Brandt Snedeker, offered his take:

Luke Donald chimed in on Twitter as well:

In the suit, more than 80 caddies said they want a share of the money the tour makes off them wearing sponsor bibs during tournaments. They also listed a series of grievances, including that they "have been treated as second-class participants of the game."

If the suit goes to court, Saturday's metal shed could wind up being Exhibit A of that.

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News & Tours

A positive Padraig Harrington says he's "on the right path"

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The Padraig Harrington who won three major championships in a span of six contested about 100 years ago has reemerged at the Honda Classic, still unsure and a bit unsteady, but possessing a growing sureness that his relative steadiness can be sustained.

Brilliant for 27 holes on the caustic Champion Course at PGA National, Harrington struggled over his inward nine and bogeyed his final two holes. Still, he completed a 4-under-par 66 Saturday to lead resourceful youngster Patrick Reed with a 7-under 133 total midway through a rain-plagued tournament destined for a Monday finish.

Related: Paddy and other PGA Tour winners who were regular working stiffs

Harrington, 43, hasn't held a 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour since the 2010 Valspar Championship. More significantly, he hasn't led after 72 holes since his victory in the 2008 PGA Championship. Granted, he did capture the Asian Tour's BRI Indonesian Open in December, a $750,000 tournament where he was the headliner, even though he wasn't ranked in the top 300 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the time.

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A win is a win, and all, but Harrington will be the first to tell you that leading a PGA Tour event, especially one played on an abrasive layout that dispensed harsh justice to a number of top players, requires a greater level of proficiency.

"It's nice to be in contention. I'm very positive about my game coming in here this week," said Harrington, who has missed five of eight cuts this year and needed a sponsor exemption to get into an event he won in 2005. "I don't know what's going to happen the next 36 holes, but I have a good idea where I'm going."

That in itself is a victory for the reflective Irishman.

For all those mystified by the recent struggles of Tiger Woods, Harrington perhaps serves as a relevant case study in a dominant game being compromised by psychological corrosion.

In the simplest terms, Harrington has struggled to put aside the fact that he's Padraig Harrington. He constantly fights the tendency to get too immersed in results rather than focus on the process of hitting good and proper shots. He tries too hard to not try too hard.

Many players refer to this as getting in their own way.

Without a top-10 finish since the 2013 FedEx St. Jude Classic, Harrington has been virtually tripping over himself. He might as well just tie his own shoelaces together.

It hasn't helped that he has tinkered with his swing endlessly in the last seven years. Sound familiar?

"My big problem is really trying to control the outcome and not settling for the process being enough," he said. "Ultimately, I have found out that is the biggest hindrance to my game. My mind out there was better than it's ever been. It was ugly at the end there. I found it for a while, though."

Offering him solace is that he found it in Indonesia, too. After blowing a four-stroke lead through 54-holes, Harrington sank a 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to beat Thanyakon Khrongpha of Thailand by two shots. It was his first win since the 2010 Johor Open, also on the Asian Tour.

The win came out of nowhere. Or so it seemed.

"When you go across to Asia, you're staying in the Presidential Suite. You've got a chauffer and a police escort for the week. You're treated like a star and you play like a star," he said with relish. "They bring you in there and your picture is all over the billboards and advertisements, and you have to deliver. It's got to have an effect on the ego.

"When I go to Asia, I'm back to being a three-time major winner. You get built up and you sometimes play like that. Here it's a different feeling."

Ranked 297th in the world, Harrington feels almost invisible in America. Part of that is due to his European heritage. Another part can be attributed to his precipitous decline in performance. And then there's human nature; people are predictably drawn to bright young talents like Brooks Koepka or Jordan Spieth instead of a married father of two children predisposed to disquietude.

Take his play on Saturday. He was comfortable until making the turn and then some old swing faults began to creep back in. He made four birdies on his last nine, sure, but he hit only two fairways and that caught up to him with soft bogeys on his last two holes.

"That was disappointing. But you can't have everything go your way all the time," said the man who hasn't had much go his way in years.

Golf's demons never rest. It takes enormous visceral vigor to fend them off. There isn't a golfer in history who hasn't eventually succumbed to them, and it's easy to surrender to them once they have displaced a player's preternatural confidence.

Related: How Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks are making TV history at the Honda

But good players find a way to rebound, rebuild, and then recapture their edge. Woods, after his personal tribulations in late 2009, won five times in 2013 and claimed another PGA Tour Player of the Year honor. Now he's in the midst of another reclamation project.

Harrington, Player of the Year in 2008, would admit that his play in this week's weather-plagued tournament is merely an overture towards better days. He said he feels like it's coming, but one can never be sure either.

Dancing on a razor's edge leaves some deep cuts. When the third round restarts at 10 a.m. EST Sunday, Harrington will quickly find out how sure his footing remains.

"We're on the right path," he said, trying to sound confident, but letting doubt sneak in just the same. "It's just a question of, can I do it? As you get older, you lose a bit of your innocence. I have always been a person who probably tries a bit too hard. There's no doubt on the mental side I've been trying ever so hard. It's hard to ease off. I did find some peace this week. Even if it was only for a bit of time I did find some peace."

And a piece of himself, too.

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Books

The Rory McIlroy biographies are starting to pile up

GolfDigest.com will regularly highlight a book that it finds of interest to readers. This week is:

Rory's Glory, by Justin Doyle, foreword by Tony Jacklin, G2 Entertainment Publishing, $19.95, paperback, 166 pages (also in eBook format)

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The on-course achievements of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy through age 25 show great similarity. How do they compare off the course? When it comes to being subject matter for books, Tiger takes down Rory -- in a rout. With this latest book on McIlroy, by my reckoning, that puts his count at five; there were roughly a dozen books done on Woods at the same age.

That speaks to Woods' explosive start to the pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' records in the majors -- unprecedented at such a young age; McIlroy's early career surge doesn't feel as fresh -- Tiger playing the prominent American tour, and his more secretive and guarded nature, which made him a target for interest and scrutiny. By the time Woods turned 25 at the end of 2000, those dozen books included tomes by such writers as Tim Rosaforte and the "John Quartet" of Strege, Garrity, Andrisani, and Feinstein, plus Woods' father Earl. Following Woods' incredible 2000 season, during the next couple years another group of prominent writers including Tom Callahan, David Owen and Steve Eubanks would have their own Woods books.

With "Rory's Glory," you can give Woods the edge in both volume and substance. Doyle, an Irish sports writer, now has done two of the five books on McIlroy, who turns 26 in early May. If he had done one book on Rory Mac to this point, he would have had a better product. The first book -- "Rory McIlroy: His Story So Far" -- went to press in November 2011, several months after McIlroy won his first major at the U.S. Open at Congressional (both books are from G2 Entertainment publishing in the UK). Just 22 and a half, McIlroy's life to that point didn't provide a lot for a biography, just as many of the early books done on Woods were thin in page count and small in dimension.

Related: More Golf Digest book reviews

The author estimated it took less than three hours to read Rory book No. 1. The second effort has even fewer years of his life to cover, the 2012 to 2014 seasons, and as a result "Rory's Glory" reads like an extensive periodical piece, much of it familiar.

Doyle shows his delight in his subject and is an obvious fan, and rightfully so since McIlroy is universally admired for how he's handled himself as well as performed. And it's to fans of McIlroy that I'd recommend this book. Everyone else might want to try getting a copy of a different Doyle book, his collaboration with another Irishman, Christy O'Connor Jr., on his autobiography, "Christy" (Paperweight Publications). Junior is nephew to legend Christy O'Connor Sr. and is the 1989 European Ryder Cup hero who stunned Fred Couples in singles. That bio came out in 2012 when O'Connor was 64, a robust life worth a book.

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News & Tours

Golf in Iran? Yes, there is, one 13-hole course

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Golf in Iran? Yes, though not a lot of it. It has one course, the Engelhab ("Revolution" in Farsi) Club, that has only 13 holes, requiring golfers to play five holes twice to reach 18. AFP’s Arthur Macmillan reports: “‘It's pretty terrible, but it's all we have,’ said Mehrdad, a 40-year-old businessman who splits his time between Iran, Canada and Germany. He tries to play at least fortnightly with his friends, but other than on the Persian weekend (Thursday and Friday) the club is deserted, he says, remarking that few Iranians know what golf is.”

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(Getty Images)

“The world watched with bated breath as Darren Clarke took to the first tee at The K Club in the 2006 Ryder Cup, just six weeks after the death of his first wife, Heather, to cancer,” Ali Gordon of the Belfast Telegraph writes in this story on Clarke and that painful period in his life. “‘Thankfully it went straight down the middle,’” Clarke said.

***

Sean Jacklin was born in Scotland to an English father, was named for a Scot and grew up in the U.S. So how will he identify himself? He registered for the European Tour’s Joburg Open this week as a Scot. “I think it’s a connection between Sean being born in Scotland and named after Sean Connery, Tony’s good friend,” Lloyd Bailey, Tony Jacklin’s agent, told the Scotsman. “It’s also so he can play for Europe in the Ryder Cup ahead of the States.”

***

Lydia Ko, only 17 and already No. 1 in the Rolex Ranking, was in the news again for flirting with a 59 and settling for a 61 in the New Zealand Open. “At times watching Lydia Ko's group you had to be reminded this was a championship golf course set up for top professionals, not a nine-hole pitch-and-putt course down at the local driving range,” Fred Woodcock of Stuff writes. “Such was the disdain Ko had for the Clearwater Golf Club layout, as she meticulously ripped it apart hole-by-hole, smashing the course record and putting herself in pole position for a second New Zealand Women's Open title in three years.”

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News & Tours

Rory misses the cut at the Honda Classic, proves that he is human after all

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Well, the chamber of horrors that is the Champion Course at PGA National sure doesn't play favorites. As proof, many of the favorites aren't playing the Champion Course this weekend in the Honda Classic.
 
Half of the field had yet to complete the second round because of nearly four hours of weather delays Friday, but the plethora of marquee players turning in their courtesy cars early was startling. Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel and Ernie Els were among the certain casualties, while Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell found themselves with ground to make up to survive the 36-hole cut when play resumes Saturday morning, weather permitting.
 
Most shocking of all, however, was the thoroughly uninspired effort of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who had come into this event, his first this year on the PGA Tour, riding a wave that had begun with his victory in last year's Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
 
Having collected four wins and four second-place finishes in his last 12 starts, including the Claret Jug and his second PGA Championship title, McIlroy was rightly shocked by his inability to lift his game after an opening 73. Despite being presented a rain-softened course, he converted just one birdie in a 74 that left him at 7-over 147.
 
Yes, he was surprised. And more.
 
"I'm pissed off," he said frankly, unable to explain his desultory effort on a course where he lost to Russell Henley last year in a four-man playoff.  "I think it's been since The Open in '13 the last time I missed a cut. I don't like missing cuts. You want to be playing on the weekend, and I'm not there. Well, I'm here; I'm home [he lives in nearby Jupiter]. I'm not going to be playing this weekend, which is … which is not nice."


With its many bunkers and water hazards lurking about, and wind a mean-spirited sidekick, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Champion Course, renovated after last year's tournament, is not nice to anyone not on top of his game.
 
McIlroy wasn't thought to be in that category, but he converted just five birdies against seven bogeys and two double-bogeys in two days.
 
"It's a tough golf course, especially with the wind and everything," said Brooks Koepka, who, playing alongside McIlroy, rallied from an opening 78 to fire a 6-under 64 and earned a weekend tee time for the many family and friends in his gallery. "Yeah, it's surprising. He's the best player in the world right now. Any time he struggles, I think it would be a shock to everyone."
 
The rain-plagued day started poorly for the Ulsterman when he bogeyed his opening hole, the long par-4 10th, but his situation became dire when he bogeyed the reachable par-5 18th after his second shot from the left rough found the water well short of the green.
 
"I think that's maybe where it all … McIlroy said before he stopped himself, perhaps not wanting to finish the thought. " I made a bit of a bad decision on 18, hitting wood out of the rough. The lie looked pretty good.  Felt like I could get it up around the green, but just didn't come out the way I expected it to."
 
McIlroy converted his only birdie, from five feet, at the par-3 fifth, but then he closed with three bogeys, including at the last.
 
It was a far cry from his last two starts, which included a victory at Dubai following second place at Abu Dhabi. He seemed confident that he could pick up where he left off, but, instead, he left his game overseas.
 
"I guess after coming off a three‑week break, and then felt a little ‑‑ just a little, I wouldn't say rusty, but just not quite on top of my game yesterday," he said. "And then today, I mean, I felt like I was trying to get something going and couldn't.  Coming off three weeks off and playing in conditions like these, it sort of shows you where your game's at.  Just got to regroup and put some work in and get ready for Miami next week."
 
McIlroy is competing next week at Trump Doral in Miami at the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship - after participating on Monday in the popular Seminole Pro-Member - followed by his first appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Then it's on to the Masters, where he will try to win his third straight major and go for completing the career Grand Slam.
 
Not that he is giving that any thought. Or so he says.
 
"I'm not really thinking of Augusta. I'm thinking of next week and just trying to play four solid rounds. The good thing about next week is we do have four rounds that we can get into some sort of rhythm."

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Celebrity

Tiger Woods gets some earthy advice from...Kid Rock?

Everyone, it seems, has advice for Tiger Woods, who has taken a hiatus while he attempts to resurrect his golf career.

Here’s some from an unlikely source, Kid Rock, who apparently has joined the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., and visited Woods at his Jupiter Island estate, even hitting balls in his backyard:

“Nice kid," Rock told Rolling Stone. “A little bit of an Eminem and Axl Rose syndrome. Very reclusive, literal, and sometimes you feel a little bad for them. Sometimes they think the world's against them. You gotta loosen up, man! People are gonna talk [bleep]. You just gotta enjoy it!”

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(Getty Images)

He did not elaborate, nor did he reconcile why one might conclude the world is against them when earning tens of millions of dollars from corporations asking that you represent them to large numbers of people.

Rock has become an avid golfer, who played in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2014, is a friend of John Daly’s. As for his membership in the Bear’s Club, he told Rolling Stone, “If you told me five years ago I'd have to take my hat off and tuck my shirt in, I'd have slapped the taste out of your mouth. Now I'm like, ‘Look at me, hair slicked back, shirt tucked in.’”

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Celebrity

Jesper Parnevik says to expect "a lot of very weird things happening" on his new reality TV show

March is going to be a big month for Jesper Parnevik. On the 7th, the Swedish golfer turns 50 making him eligible for the Champions Tour, and on the 16th, a new reality TV show starring his family debuts.

But he's only nervous about one of those events.

"I said no to people who asked me for many years to do something like this," Parnevik told GolfDigest.com. "Ever since I've said yes, I've had anxiety for this. I hate bad TV."

Related: The top 25 viral videos of 2014

But Parnevik is cautiously optimistic he's avoided that with "Parneviks," a show that will air on TV3 in Sweden. The program will focus on Jesper, his wife, Mia, and their four teenage children, but there will be appearances by many others, including some of Sweden's biggest celebrities, from soccer players to movie stars to politicians.

The show will be broken up into eight hour-long episodes. Here's a brief trailer, although don't expect to understand much if you haven't brushed up on your Swedish lately:

Kolla gÿrna på vårt program💗#parneviks

A video posted by Mia parnevik (@miaparnevik) on

Confused? We got Jesper to give us more details.

"It was a hectic eight weeks, but it was one of the most fun things I've ever done," said Parnevik, who described the show as a reality cross between The Office and Modern Family. "I got to meet people I wouldn't have met otherwise and hear people's life stories, how hard they work, and their ups and downs."

Not that Parnevik isn't used to having hordes of people inside his 13,000-square-foot home in Jupiter, Fla. He said there were as many as 80 (yes, 80) visitors during Christmas and that a lot of the people who make appearances on the show would have been there anyway.

"The house is always in chaos, we always have people over because Sweden is very dark in the winter," Parnevik said. "It's a big house, but it's usually not big enough."

"Everything that's happening is very real. There's going to be a lot of very weird things happening that always do here. It's not scripted at all."

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Being in front of the camera wasn't a huge adjustment for Parnevik, who has long been used to his celebrity status in his home country -- both for being a star golfer and for being the son of popular entertainer/comedian Bo Parnevik. Jesper was amazed by how natural his children were during taping (we're not after seeing them perform in this "Gangnam Style" music video in 2012), and is happy they were part of the experience.

"It was cool to do as a family," he said. "It was kind of good therapy . . . we grew together."

Related: The Oscars shows its anti-golf bias once again

As for growing into playing golf's senior circuit, Parnevik hopes to play a pretty full schedule -- if his body allows it.

"I've had so many injuries from cutting my finger off to Segways to hips to backs to ribs, so I never promise too much," he said. "I usually get injured around Februrary."

Fingers crossed you stay healthy this year, Jesper. And break a leg on the new show! Eh, let's stick with wishing you good luck.

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Trending

5 things to talk about on the course: "Parks and Rec," the world's unluckiest athlete, and llamas

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. "Parks and Recreation": Remember last year when the "How I Met Your Mother" series finale let us all down and left us depressed? Well, thankfully, the "Parks and Recreation" capper did the opposite. What a way to go out for brilliant/funny/sweet show. Here's the whole gang, including the brains behind the operation, Michael Schur, singing "Bye, Bye Li'l Sebastian" one last time:

Goodbye to Ron Swanson, Andy Dwyer, Tom Haverford, Perd Hapley, and the rest of the Pawnee gang. Well, until the reunion show sometime in the future. Hey, if Leslie Knope has taught us anything, it's that we should dream big.

2. Derrick Rose: We hope we're not saying bye bye for good to the Chicago Bulls superstar as well, but this is getting tough to watch. Rose, 26, tore his miniscus in his right knee for a second time in 16 months. He previously tore his ACL in his left knee during the 2012 playoffs. In other words, the man who became the youngest MVP in NBA history less than four years ago now might have more future uncertainty with his athletic career than Tiger Woods. Sad. Let's remember a better time. Here are three ridiculous dunks he had in one half of a playoff game against the Heat in 2011. What a freak.

Related: The Oscars shows its anti-golf bias once again

3. Cavaliers vs. Warriors: With the Bulls falling to the wayside, that makes the Cleveland's path to the NBA Finals a bit easier. And if they make it, there's a good chance they'll be playing Golden State, who owns the best record in the NBA. We got a potential preview of what we might see in June on Thursday night (we hope!) and did LeBron and his boys ever rise to the occasion in a 110-99 win that was never close in the second half. James finished with a season-high 42 points to go with 11 rebounds and five assists. Think he was extra motivated to go up against MVP frontrunner Steph Curry? Oh yeah, the Cavs are now 18-2 in their last 20 games. So much for their struggles.

PHOTOS: The year in golf WAGs

4. Llamas/dress: A pair of vastly different things went viral on Thursday and if you weren't talking about either, well, you probably don't talk to many people. First, a pair of llamas got on the loose in Sun City, Ariz., leading authorities on the most-watched road chase since OJ Simpson was in that white Bronco. Perhaps, they did it to honor the memory of mini-horse Li'l Sebastian. Then after that madness finally died down, a dress divided the nation over what color it was. For the record, I'm squarely on Team White & Gold.

5. "House of Cards": Speaking of our nation, this popular Netflix political drama returns today, which means if you know anyone who watches it, you probably won't be seeing them this weekend. A couple weeks ago, the show was "accidentally" leaked for about 30 minutes and people freaked out. If you hear your neighbors screaming, don't be alarmed. Either Kevin Spacey did something devious or their Internet went out.

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My Usual Game

An empirical proof of golf's superiority to tennis

Gary Levering, a lawyer and real-estate developer in Houston, died last year. He played on the golf team at Northwestern from 1957-’61 (photo below, courtesy of Northwestern Athletics), and once he’d established himself in his career he reimbursed the university for his scholarship. He believed that golf was a more difficult sport than tennis. To prove it, he signed up for lessons at the Houston Racquet Club and won the club championship two years later: Q.E.D. He earned a perfect score on the test the U.S.G.A. uses to certify rules officials, and was known to friends as Dr. Golf. 
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I learned about Levering from Keith Kimmick, a reader and a commercial-insurance executive. He heard Levering give a talk about bipolar disorder, from which he suffered, at River Oaks Country Club, and when the talk was over Kimmick asked what he could do to help. Kimmick has served on the advisory board of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Greater Houston ever since. “Fortunately, I don’t suffer from this illness,” he told me recently, “but I admired Gary for stepping out to tell the world about himself. The D.B.S.A. provides free assistance for those that suffer from bipolar and depression through trained facilitators. I spend most of my time working a booth at various health functions throughout the city, spreading the word.”

Levering and Kimmick became golf buddies, too. Levering owned a house in Pebble Beach and was a member of Cypress Point Club, which always hovers near the top of Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest. During guest rounds there, Kimmick got to know Mike Reese, a longtime Cypress caddie. Reese died of a brain aneurysm in 2007, at the age of 49, and Kimmick wrote a tribute, of which this was part:

Casey Reamer, Cypress Point Club’s head pro, remembers Mike as a true perfectionist on the golf course. One day when Mike was caddying for him, Casey had accidentally left his Bushnell (electronic measuring device) in his golf bag. They are not permitted at Cypress Point Club, but Mike insisted that Casey test his yardages. On the 7th hole, Mike said he was 178 yards from the pin and the Bushnell indicated 179 yards. On the 8th hole, Mike said he was 134 yards and the Bushnell flashed 134 yards to the mark. On the 9th hole, Mike said he was 117 yards and the Bushnell indicated 116 yards. Casey responded to Mike that he was very impressed that he was right on target with the Bushnell once, and within a yard the other two times. Mike very professionally flipped the Bushnell over where the sticker read within one yard up to 1500 yards, and said, “I believe the Bushnell was off one yard on those other two holes.”

Kimmick and Reese shared a love for Cypress memorabilia. Kimmick’s collection is extensive, and he has shown me images of some of his favorite items. I’m going to write about one of them in a future post. (Not the photo below, which is part of my own Cypress collection. It’s of Alister MacKenzie and his wife, Hilda, on the fifteenth green when the course was new. That box in Hilda’s hand is a camera -- and check out her shoes.)

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: An easy pre-round warm-up

About a decade ago, my old friend Mark Verstegen at Exos (@teamexos) introduced me to a fitness term that has been a part of my workouts and pre-round warm-up ever since. He calls it "movement prep." What it means is that before you do anything strenuous such as swinging a golf club at 100 mph or doing olympic lifts, you need to warm your muscles up with a series of basic movements.

In the past, people might have prepared for an athletic activity by stretching. It's become widely accepted that long-hold stretches aren't the best way to prepare for strenuous movement. You want your muscles pliable, but taut enough to contract when needed. Long-hold stretches might actually hinder muscles from firing properly.

So whether you're working out or getting ready to play golf, consider doing a handful of basic exercises to warm your body up. To see me demonstrate three "movement prep" exercises I like to use before working out or playing golf, click on the video below.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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