The Local Knowlege

Instruction

We can all learn a thing or two from Gary Player

By Keely Levins

loop-gary-player-dvd-set-300.jpgGary Player's new DVD set -- Gary Player: A Game for Life Instruction Series -- aims to help you improve your golf game. It's secondary purpose, however, is to essentially shame you into working out more given that the 78-year-old Player remains more fit than the vast majority of golfers playing the game at any age.

The box set ($100, agameforlife.com) targets three different areas: sand play, scoring (which covers short game and putting) and life (covering diet and fitness). A concept repeated throughout the series is "turn three shots into two." Often, the best way to do this is with your short game. Working off the stat that 70 to 75 percent of shots in golf are from 100 yards and in, Player spends extended time on different shots you need in and around the green.

He's not overly technical with his instruction ideas, and effective follows his explanations up with how to apply his thoughts and techniques to the average golfer's game.

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Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Sleep better, play better

By Ron Kaspriske

maar04-ron-kaspriske-sleep.jpgDo you know if working out right before bedtime is a good idea? Or how long a nap should be? If you snore, does that mean you have a chronic sleep disorder? And do you know why you sometimes wake up groggy even after getting eight hours of rest? Because most of us do it every day of our lives, sleep health is often ignored or taken for granted. But golfers might want to rethink the importance of quality sleep. A recent study indicated better sack time can lower your handicap significantly. Imagine going from a 14 to single digits just by getting better sleep. For the May issue of @golfdigestmag, I wrote an FAQ on everything golfers need to know about sleep. If you want the answer to any of the above questions and more information on how sleep improves your golf scores, click on this link:
Will more sack time lower your handicap?

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Illustration by Peter Arkle) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: A fix for those fat and thin shots

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Note how Gary Woodland's right shoulder moves down toward the ball.

By Ron Kaspriske

A simple way to explain how the upper body should rotate during the swing is to imagine you've got your head inside a life-preserver ring that is resting on your shoulders as you set up to the golf ball. When you turn back and through during the swing, the life preserver would be tilted, with the part of the circle closest to the ball lower than the part of the preserver that's behind your head. The amount of that tilt varies depending on the length of the club you're using.

If you're hitting the ground behind the ball (a fat shot) or making contact with it on the bottom portion of the clubhead (a thin shot), there's a good chance you're not maintaining the tilt of that life preserver, says golf instructor Jeff Ritter (@mttgolf), who runs the Make the Turn Performance center at Poppy Hills Golf Club in Pebble Beach. On the practice range, Ritter suggests two drills. The first is to move your left shoulder down toward the ball during the backswing. Then, once you become comfortable with that, work on the second half of the swing by moving the right shoulder toward the ball during the downswing. The lower body should rotate toward the target ahead of this shoulder move. You'll eventually want to blend these two drills into one fluid motion. And pay attention to your weight and body orientation, he says. You don't want your weight moving too far into your toes or heels.

Related: Watch Make The Turn video series with Jeff Ritter


If you're struggling with these moves, the problem might be weak oblique muscles. The obliques are part of the core-muscle family and reside of the sides of your torso. They are key to thoracic (mid spine) rotation and, if they are weak, you'll struggle to turn back and through with the proper tilt of your upper body.

To train them, first work on improving their stability. Side planks are great.
fitness-exercises-side-plank.jpg

Hold this position for as long as you can. Just make sure your arm stays stacked under your shoulder joint when you do them and don't let your body sag at the hips. Remember to do both sides. If you're able to hold the plank easily for over a minute, you're ready for a more advanced exercise that helps train the correct upper body tilt and rotation while improving lower-body stability. This one comes from PGA Tour trainer Joey Diosalvi (@coachjoeyd).

fitness-exercises-rotations.jpg

Rotate your upper body in both directions while maintaining your balance. Strive to do two sets of five turns in each direction and then switch leg positions to improve muscular symmetry.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


Gary Woodland: Photo by Stephen Szurlej


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Gear & Equipment

A potential pain reliever for golfers with ailing backs

By Stephen Hennessey

Seeing Tiger Woods grimace the past few weeks on the PGA Tour is a reminder of how difficult it is to play golf with an ailing back. Serola Biomechanics, a company that has worked with chiropractors and pregnant women, thinks it can help everyday golfers cope with their discomfort.

The Sacroiliac Belt seeks to give support and improve the function of the sacroiliac joint (where the sacrum meets the pelvis), a common source of lower back pain. The belt ($41) was invented 23 years ago, but the company is only now targeting golfers.

NewStuff-Serola-belt.jpgHaving worn it since January to address my nagging back pain, I've felt a difference. It can be worn over or under your clothing but should be placed low around the hips, as opposed to over your waist. For more information, go to serola.net.

NewStuff-Belt-body.jpg
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Health & Fitness

The best golf-fitness items from the PGA Merchandise Show

By Stephen Hennessey

ORLANDO -- Amid the hundreds of booths at the PGA Merchandise Show, selling everything you can think of to golfers, are legitimate fitness items that could help your game.

We walked the floor at the Orange County Convention Center this week to find the three best golf-fitness items at the show this year for our weekly Fitness Friday feature. Here they are:

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1. Perform Better's VibraRoll: You've likely seen a foam roller before, but the VibraRoll (above) comes with a vibrating capability designed to improve blood circulation, range of motion and flexibility. The vibrations aim to break up trigger points in target areas to help soft-tissue release and recovery. At 18 inches long and six inches around, the VibraRoll ($84.95) is easily portable on the road. Perform Better has a number of new, lightweight products designed for the traveling golfer.

fitness-friday-activ8r-roll.jpgSome other Perform Better products worth looking at: The Activ8r (left)--a small, contoured product that you can freeze for a cold-compress treatment. It's designed to help release stiffness in hard to reach places and increase range of motion. And the Tiger Tail--a rolling self-massage bar that helps sore muscles recover quicker. For more: performbetter.com.


fitness-friday-serola-belt .jpg

2. Serola Biomechanical Belt: For 24 years, physical therapists, sports-medicine trainers and chiropractors have been using the Serola Sacroiliac Belt in their treatments. This is the first year Serola Biomechanics is making a push in golf. The belt is built to help alleviate back pain by providing relief to the sacroiliac joint, located in the lower back below your hip bone but above where your leg starts. If you have lower-back pain, your SI joint might be the cause. This belt helps stabilize the joint and the muscles surrounding it, allowing better circulation and normal functionality of the muscles. I wore one of the belts all day on Wednesday at the Show. As someone with nagging back pain, it helped provide some relief to the lower back. You attach it below your belt underneath your clothes so it's not visible. For more: serola.net.

fitness-friday-activmotionbar.jpg3. ActivMotion Bar: With movable weights inside a fitness bar, ActivMotion (left) is unlike other fitness items at the PGA Show. Invented by a recent exercise-science graduate from Central Michigan, Derek Mikulski, the bar comes in weights ranging from six to 18 pounds, starting at $120. Mikulski discovered that an internal, unstable load of movable weights do more to work an athlete's core while doing exercises with the ActivMotion Bar. He says your core muscles are forced to activate to control the momentum of the weights. Mikulski and his partner, Dave Davis, a TPI-certified golf coach from Michigan, have developed a five-minute workout designed to be an easy, pre-round warmup. A great way to prep the muscles essential to the golf swing so you're ready for the first tee. For more: ActivMotionBar.com.

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Gear & Equipment

GolfTEC program keeps you sharp in winter

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

Was your New Year's Resolution to improve your game during the winter months, only to have the plan foiled by the recent deep freeze that blanketed much of the country? Well, don't let the polar vortex get you down, contend the folks at GolfTEC. The network of game-improvement centers is running a Training Camp program starting this month at its 165 locations in the U.S. and Canada geared to recreational players who are trying to stay sharp before the weather warms up. The program uses GolfTEC's indoor video and motion measurement devices as part of a introductory swing evaluation. Instructors follow up with a series of 10 individualized lessons that incorporates 18 hours of video-based practice work. Players' equipment needs can also be addressed via GolfTEC's custom-fitting process. Consider it a down payment on the money you'll win off your buddies this spring while they're still shaking off their rust.

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Activate your obliques for a better swing

fitness-friday-better-swing-lead.jpgBy Ron Kaspriske

When most people think of the core, they think of those mighty rectus abdominus muscles responsible for a six-pack stomach and a stable golf swing. But when it comes to the rotational aspects of your swing, the obliques play a key role, too. In fact, if these muscles on the sides of your stomach are weak, you'll really struggle to make solid contact with the ball.

Dave Phillips and Greg Rose, who head up the impressive Titleist Performance Institute (@mytpi), explain how weak oblique and glute muscles combine to produce one of golf's most common swing flaws--reverse spine angle.


fitness-friday-better-swing-2.jpg"Reverse spine angle is not to be confused with a reverse pivot, which looks similar but is a problem of poor weight shift," says Rose. "Reverse spine angle occurs when weak oblique and glute muscles force you to lose all of your flexion as you swing to the top. If you are bent at the hips 30 degrees at address, but that shifts to minus-5 degrees at the top, you have reversed your spine angle. Your torso will lean toward the target. This is a major cause of lower-back pain and poor contact."







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Phillips, on Golf Digest's list of America's 50 Greatest Teachers, says a way you can check to see if your obliques and glutes are active when you swing is by doing this drill: "At address, drop your left foot back almost behind your right (left). Now swing to the top. If you begin to fall over, you've decreased the angle that you bent forward at the hips way too far. Focus on keeping some flexion as you swing to the top, and you won't lose your balance."







fitness-friday-better-swing-3.jpgAnd when you are back in the gym, a great way to correct the problem of reverse spine angle is by doing this drill, Rose says: "Using a narrow stance, get into a half-kneeling position and take a wide grip on a club with your arms extended. Keeping the lower body still, rotate the torso toward the bent knee as the arms move up and across the body. The rotation will strengthen the obliques, and the kneeling helps the glutes. Do a set of 10 in each direction, switching the leg positions."


For more great advice on fitness and making a better swing, go to mytpi.com.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest.


(Photos by Joey Terrill )

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Yardwork can improve your golf swing

fitness-friday-yardwork.jpg

By Ron Kaspriske


Alan Pittman, Golf Digest's managing editor, was just lamenting that when he bought his home this summer, he really didn't notice how many big trees he had in his backyard. In Connecticut in October, big trees mean lots of falling leaves. But if you're a golfer, raking up leaves is a great activity to improve your golf swing, says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson. Actually, many "yardwork" activities, if performed the way Simpson advises, can help you hit a golf ball more solidly and efficiently.

Let's start with raking. "Your technique matters, but if you rake the right way, you will strengthen several muscles that are important in the golf swing including the adductors (inside of your thighs), your abs, lats, obliques, quads and glutes."

The correct technique is to take a short step toward the leaves and keep that lead leg bent. Don't extend your arms fully, only about halfway. Then pull the rake in front of your body with your arms as you rotate your trunk toward the trailing leg. "Don't just pull with your arms," Simpson says. "You should feel like your torso is pivoting around the back leg at the same time."

The key is to switch leg positions and also the direction your torso and arms are pulling. Change up every 5 to 10 reps to maintain a healthy balance between left-side and right-side muscles.

Don't have to rake? No worries. If you're in an area of the country where you're still cutting grass, a manual weed whacker is an awesome golf-swing training aid.

Simpson says to take your golf stance and swing down into the weeds like you were swinging a club. You want to pivot around the leg in the direction the whacker is moving.

"This even looks golfish," Simpson says. "Make sure you maintain your address posture as you swing down and really give the weeds a healthy whack by rotating your body in the direction you're cutting."

An electric whacker can help your golf swing, too, if you maintain a quasi-address posture as you cut the grass. Swing the head back and through the weeds by rotating your torso and letting the whacker lag behind this movement.

A final outside chore that can help your golf swing is anything involving the ladder, Simpson says. Whether you need to remove leaves from your gutters, install storm windows, or do some exterior cleaning above arm height, a ladder is an awesome fitness aid. That's why the VersaClimber is one of the best gym machines ever invented. Climbing helps strengthen your thighs, butt, back, shoulders, and arms. It's one of the most complete exercises for golfers in terms of working the muscles required to make an effective golf swing.

"You don't even really need to go all the way up a ladder," Simpson says. "So if safety is an issue, all you have to do is go up the first few rungs and then head back down and repeat. Do this for a minute or two and you'll be gassed. Just make sure you switch up which legs initiates the climb for better muscle balance. Always train both sides equally."

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest.



(Photo by Getty Images) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Perfect the plank

By Ron Kaspriske

There used to be a guy who would come into the gym where I worked out almost every day, and, without fail, perform what could possibly be the worst example of a biceps curl I've ever seen. He'd start with the annoying habit of standing directly in front of the weight rack instead of moving away so others could access the dumbbells. Then he'd pick up two weights that were way heavier than he was capable of curling correctly. He would then rock his body back and forth until he could gain enough momentum to swing the weight into the up position of the curl. He'd do several reps and at least three sets like this, making sure to try an attract attention to his "amazing" feat of strength by grunting after each rep. To this day, I'm not sure what part of the body he thought he was improving, but I can assure you his spine was getting more of a workout than his arms.

It's one thing to have a homemade golf swing that allows you to get around the course in less than 100 shots. But it's another to perform exercises with poor technique. One rep done right is so much more beneficial than 10 done incorrectly.

In the September issue, PGA Tour fitness expert Ben Shear--who recently joined our staff as an advisor--talks about the importance of doing planks correctly. This exercise is growing in popularity, because it's being touted as a safer and more effective way to strengthen core muscles such as the rectus abdominis (the six pack) and the obliques (above your love handles). But only if it's done right.

"Think long spine," Shear says. "Imagine creating as much distance as you can between the crown of your head and your tailbone. Someone should be able to place a yardstick so it touches the back of your head, upper back and butt at the same time. Keep your chin tucked and shoulders slightly protracted (below). Those muscles, as well as the muscles in your core, should be contracting, providing active stability."

fitness-friday-planks.jpg

Once you're able to stay in this position for a considerable amount of time, you might be ready to move on to a slightly harder version of the plank. Click on the video below to see me demonstrate. But remember, form is the most important thing.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest.



(Photos: Eddie Berman)
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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Decompress your spine

By Ron Kaspriske

fitness-friday-intervertebral-discs.jpgQuick question: Are you sitting while you read this? If you are, think about your normal posture and how it relates to your spinal cord. Are your shoulders protracted? Are your glute muscles relaxed? Now think about your address posture when you play golf. Do you bend from your waist to sole the club? Does your spine feel bowed? Do you arch the bottom of your spine? If you answered yes to any or many of these questions, then you could be on your way to suffering spinal-cord compression issues.

I'm not trying to scare you, but this isn't hyperbole, either. The reason why many people get shorter as they get older is because the 24 vertebrae that make up your cervical (top), thoracic (middle) and lumbar(bottom) spine begin to collapse on one another. The cushiony material between the vertebrae, known as the intervertebral discs, get squished and worn over time and that leads to back pain and limited mobility when you swing the club (see illustration).

So what can you do about it? Well, first you can sit up straight, with your shoulders pulled back and activate your glute muscles by squeezing them together. When you play golf, make a concerted effort to bend from your hip joints and not your waist and feel as if your spine is in a neutral--not bowed or arched--position. And here's the last part. Stop doing any exercises that promote spinal compression. Those exercises include crunches and sit-ups with your hands laced behind your head. While strengthening the core muscles around your stomach is important, there are ways to do it that don't put your spine at risk. To see me demonstrate one, watch the video below.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest.



(Illustration: Getty Images)
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July 28, 2014

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