The game of golf is believed to be at least 600 years old. Researchers have found evidence of early forms of golf being played in Scotland in 1411. During the 1500s, golf was played by many of the elite, including Mary Queen of Scots. The modern version of golf was first played around 1744 in St. Andrews, Scotland. That same year, the Company of Gentlemen Golfers, the first formal golf club, was established in Edinburgh, Scotland. This club also developed the first rules for golf. The first 18-hole golf course in the U.S., the Chicago Golf Club, opened in 1893 in Wheaton, IL. By 1930, there were nearly 6,000 golf courses in America.
According to the National Golf Foundation, there are currently almost 16,000 golf courses in the U.S. and 28.6 million golfers six and older. The standard course has 18 holes ranging from less than 100 yards to more than 600 yards per hole.
Shaping Up for Golf
While golf is considered a leisure activity, golfers get quite a workout. Golfing requires strength, balance, flexibility, agility and stamina. Researchers have found golfers who walk the course (instead of riding in a golf cart) cover a distance of about 4.4 miles over 18 holes. In addition to physical fitness, golfers need good concentration skills to aim the ball and gauge the appropriate distance and direction to make the hole.
To build or maintain the physical requirements for the sport, many golfers are now participating in exercise programs off the course. The Pulse Program aims to help golfers and other athletes improve their game performance and reduce their risk for injury.
Frank Lupin, Jr., Pulse Performance Specialist with Coordinated Health in Bethlehem, PA, says he takes a medical history, and then evaluates a client’s current level of fitness. For golfers, it’s important to assess flexibility of the calves, ankles, hips and shoulders and balance during the swing. The information is then used to make recommendations for a personal workout program to address deficiencies and improve fitness and function. The program generally focuses on improving flexibility, balance, strength, power, speed and agility. Clients can have individualized or group instruction, or both. They also get exercises to do at home.
The Pulse Program can help any athlete looking to improve his/her game. The program is also used by non-athletes who want to improve balance, flexibility, strength and stamina. Lupin recommends people who are looking to improve their fitness for sports look for a trainer certified in their area by going to the website of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (www.nsca-lift.org).
National Academy of Sports Medicine, http://www.nasm.org
National Strength and Conditioning Association, http://www.nsca-lift.org
For general information on golf:
National Golf Foundation, http://www.ngf.org
Play Golf America™, http://www.playgolfamerica.com
Professional Caddies Association, http://www.pcaworldwide.com
Kobriger, Samantha, et al., “The Contribution of Golf to Daily Physical Activity Recommendations,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, August 2006, Vol. 81, No. 8, pp. 1041-1043.
Lephart, S., et al., “An Eight-Week Golf-Specific Exercise Program Improves Physical Characteristics, Swing Mechanics, and Golf Performance in Recreational Golfers,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, August 2007, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 860-869.
Moran, K., et al., “Dynamic Stretching and Golf Swing Performance,” International Journal of Sports Medicine, February 2009, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 113-118.
Myers, J., et al., “The Role of Upper Torso and Pelvis Rotation in Driving Performance During the Golf Swing,” Journal of Sports Science, January 15, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 181-188.
Thompson, C., et al., “Functional Training Improves Club Head Speed and Functional Fitness in Older Golfers,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, February 2007, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 131-137.