Low impact exercises to help you play better golf

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Golf in itself is a good form of exercise. The average golfer walks approximately 5 miles per round of golf and swing the golf club over 200 times including practice swings. Couple this with carrying your 10 kilo golf bag on your back and this is a great low impact work out.

However if we want to improve our golf game and play 18 holes without fading away towards the end we need to tone up and build stamina. Golftalk have been looking at the best forms of low impact exercise to compliment your golf game and in this article we discuss our top 5.

  1. Swimming is a great form of low impact exercise. We use almost all of our muscles when swimming especially the arms, legs and core to give us a very good low impact all over workout. Swimming will also give you a good cardio work out that will improve your stamina out on the course.
  2. Yoga is another form of low impact exercise that is popular with many athletes because it combines strength training with stretching something that is particularly important to golfers. Also Yoga can be done in the comfort of your own home. There are many smartphone apps and youtube videos describing what you need to to to get started.
  3. Cycling is a fantastic way to get the legs working and the heart pumping. Whether you are outside on the roads or in a gym on a cycling machine, both will give you a good low impact workout that will help build your strength and stamina. An added benefit of cycling is that it can be worked into your daily routine, for example cycling to work.
  4. Pilates, like Yoga is a low impact workout that many athletes use to build strength and stamina. It focuses on strengthening the core which is very beneficial for golfers of all levels. Pilates also helps to quieten the mind and focus on breathing which again is particularly helpful for golfers. Some Pilates exercises use specific equipment so a good idea is to look for local classes in your area.
  5. Walking is, as already said a great form of exercise. So lets try and do more by looking for opportunities to walk instead of take the car or public transport. Walking will also improve your balance an co-ordination as well as strengthening your bones and muscles. It is also said that walking improves your mood so may also have phycological benefits. Why not try a Fitbit (available from the GolfTalk store) or other step counting device to keep you motivated.

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Golf Course Management – How to play a par 5

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How to make the most out of Par-5s is a question we are often asked here at Golftalk.Golfer performs a golf shot from the fairway.

When we get to the Par-5 tee box many of us instantly reach for our driver with a plan of hitting the ball as far as we can. We hope that we will be able to get to the green in two and make an eagle or at worst a birdie, seldom does this happen so is this the right strategy? In this article we look at the course management of how to play a Par-5 and give you some thoughts on your own decision making.

The distance of a Par-5 is 471 yards – 690 yards for men and 401 yards – 575 yards for women and juniors. So the length of the hole and how it plays must be a key decision factor in deciding how to play a Par-5. For example if a good drive is 250 yards for you, and a well struck 3 wood in 220 yards then any hole over 470 yards is a three shot hole for you and only at the shorter Par-5 holes when the circumstances allow should you go for the green in two shots.

So which club should you play off the tee? Well again, this will be determined by how you are playing on the day and the golf hole. You will have to consider any hazards that you need to avoid, and the chances of pulling off that shot consistently well. It maybe that you are striking your driver well and are feeling confident with that club. So if using that club will enable you to hit the fairway even if you have a slight mishit then that may be a good club for you to select. On the other hand if you have consistently missed the fairway with your driver then maybe a 3 wood or longer iron maybe a better choice for you. Hitting the fairway is your number one priority off the tee. We all know that playing golf off the fairway is much easier than out of the rough.

We also need to consider how the course architect has designed the hole to be played. Sometimes they will have designed the hole so the green is fairly open, encouraging the golfer to have a go! Or the architect may have intended the hole to be played in 3 shots to the green and placed hazards strategically in the fairway and around the green. A quick glance at the course planned will soon show you how the hole should be played and what you will need to consider.

Man playing golfFor most amateurs hitting the green in regulation will give them the best chance of making a par, so this must be the your first thought. A conservative three shot strategy onto the green in most cases will outplay the two shot strategy. Think back to your last round of golf, how did you play the par-5s?

Finally, here’s something to try. When you are next on the course playing a practice round. Play two balls off the Par-5s. One where you intend to lay up and one where you will go for the green in two. Mark both score on your card and at the end of the round see where you came out best. In our experience for most amateur golfers the first option usually provides a better score.

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The Golf Talk team


How to play from a green side bunker

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Do you have a look of dread when you find yourself in a green-side bunker? Unlike the professional golfers many amateurs struggle immensely with green-side bunkers and landing in one usually means a dropped shot. In this post we will give you advice and tips on how to escape from a green-side bunker so you can be more confident when out on the course.How to escape from a green side bunker

As we have said in a previous post on fairway bunkers ‘prevention is better than cure’ and our advice for the green-side bunker remains the same. If you can avoid a green-side bunker, do so. OK, so how can you avoid a green-side bunker? Firstly you will need to know where the green-side bunkers are. On some holes it will be pretty obvious to see them from the fairway, but other holes with blind shots it may not be as easy. If it is a new course you are playing our advice is to buy a course planner from the pro shop and study the scorecard to establish where the bunkers are on each hole. Next you need to know your yardages (how far you hit each club) and if a green-side bunker is in play for you. If it is, then perhaps playing a different club may be a smarter move for you. On many par three holes the green is protected by bunkers at the front of the hole so take an extra club and play to the back of the hole this will take the bunker out of play for you.

If you are unfortunate to land in a green-side bunker then here are our essential tips to help you successfully escape the sand trap and hopefully save par.

Firstly you will need to create a solid base. Shuffle your feet into the sand until to reach firm ground. This will help ensure that you stay balanced throughout the golf swing. This also means that your swing arc will be lower than usual and will result in you hitting behind the ball. This is ok, you are looking for a sand then ball contact. The picture we want you to have in your minds eye is the ball coming out of the bunker on a carpet of sand.

The sand-wedge is designed to bounce off the sand so setting up to the ball you will need to open the clubface compared to your target line. If when you line up to your target line you are at 12 o’clock then we would like your feet, hips, shoulders aiming at 10 o’clock. This open stance will encourage you to swing out-to-in across the target line and keep the clubface open. If you are set up square to your target line the clubhead will simply dig into the sand and the ball will bump along just a few feet.

Next we want you to position the ball in the middle to front part of your stance. You are looking to strike the sand around one to two inches behind the ball so the sand lifts the golf ball out of the bunker. Remember when you are in a bunker to hover the clubhead and not to touch the sand. It is against the rules of golf to touch the ground with your club when in a hazard.

Finally swing smooth. You do not need power out of a green-side bunker. By keeping your swing smooth and relaxed you are less likely to dip your shoulder and fluff the shot. Your grip should remain consistently light throughout the swing and a good swing thought is to let the club do the work.

So now you know the theory of escaping from a green-side bunker, lets go to the practice area and try this out ….

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How to score a stableford round of golf

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If you are going to start playing competitive golf then you will very soon use the Stableford scoring system as a way of marking your scorecard. In this post we will talk you through how to complete your scorecard and what strategies you could be using to play your best golf.

A very common way of scoring a competitive round of golf is the Stableford system. This type of scoring enables you to score points against the course’s par. For example if you are playing a par four hole then the course has already scored a par four. Your challenge is to beat that score, for which you will be awarded points as follows …

Double Eagle    5 points
Eagle                  4 points
Birdie                 3 points
Par                      2 points
Bogey                 1 point
Double Bogey   0 points

Of course this is you nett score allowing for your handicap. So let’s assume you are an eighteen handicapper. This means you will get a shot on each hole to give you your nett score. A par four on the scorecard will in fact be a par 5 for you. Now let’s also assume that you are playing a par four. If you were to achieve a gross score of five on this hole. This would be a nett score of par and two points for you. So if you play to your eighteen handicap and score a gross score of ninety and a nett score of seventy two you will achieve two points per hole and a total of thirty six points.

Now lets look at how you can best use this information to formulate your strategy to play your best golf.

How the stableford game differs from your standard medal play is that t
his form of the game rewards risk. By that we mean, if you decide to go for a shot that would result in a possible birdie (nett eagle) then you will score four points. However, if the shot does not go according to plan and you score a bogey (nett double bogey) then you will lose only two points that could be made up else where. This is very different to medal play where you would play the course much more conservative trying not to put a large number on your scorecard. So with Stableford we would encourage you to look at the scorecard and plan out where you will play safe and accept two points and where you will try the riskier shots and go for nett birdies and more points.

Also if you are playing off a higher than eighteen handicap then this obviously means that on some of the lower stroke index holes you will get more than one shot. Now the golf holes with the lower stroke index means that they play more difficult so you may need to plan how you will use the extra shot. This could be an iron off the tee for safety, or a lay up second shot to avoid a hazard for example. Either way please ensure that you know what shots you get on what holes because this should have an impact on how you play each hole.

Finally look at your score in three hole increments and see how you are progressing against your target score. If you have scored six points over the first three holes then you are playing steady and to handicap. If you are scoring higher or lower than this you may want to start thinking about where you will pick up points and potentially where you may lose a few points. The impact of counting your points over an average of three holes is that it prevents you from making any rushed decisions after just one bad hole. You will start to see patterns and make the correct choices of what shots to play. Or whether to play more aggressive or more defensive.

So next time you have an opportunity to play a Stableford game use these tips to help you out on the course and have fun!

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What is a Texas Scramble in golf

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There are many games within golf that we can play from the traditional stroke play where we play against the par of the course. To medal play where we compete against each other. In this post we will take a look at the format of Texas Scramble and explain what it is, how you score and wGolfhy it is such a fun game to play.

Let us start with the answer to the question in the title. What is a Texas Scramble?

A Texas Scramble is a four person team event where each member of the team plays his or her own ball from tee to green. Each player will hit their tee shot and then as a team you will all decide on the best shot out of the four and all play your ball from that spot. The person who’s tee shot was chosen marks their ball and plays their shot. The rest of the team will then drop a ball within six inches of the marker and all play their shots on to the green assuming this is a par four. Once on the green the process is repeated with the team deciding the best putt with the most chance of holing it. The player who’s shot is chosen will mark their ball and putt first. Assuming that they do not hole the putt they will mark their ball and the team will then all have a chance of holing the putt. You then move onto the next hole and the process is repeated throughout all eighteen holes. Because your team is getting four chances at each shot this is usually a low scoring competition with ten or twelve birdies per team not uncommon.

In some competitions their maybe some local rules to this format. A common one is the number of drives each player has to take. For example, the local rule could be that each player has to take four drives each. This is usually to try and even out the field and make the game more competitive. We have also played a local rule where each team is given an an orange or yellow ball to play. Each team member must play the ball tee to green and then pass onto the next player in the team. The objective is not to loose the orange ball and the team that returns it at the end of the competition gets extra points.

To score you simply play the hole as described previously and write down your score in a ‘medal format’ you may also need to write down who’s drive you used and who had the orange ball?. The handicap for each team is usually calculated as one tenth of the combined handicap. For example if each player is a eighteen handicapper then the total handicap is seventy two and one tenth would be seven point two. You would simply deduct seven point two from your gross score to give your nett score.

This is a great game to play because it lets you contribute to the team score no matter how well you are playing on the day. By that we mean, if on the day you are not striking your irons well you may knock a few putts in as your contribution. This format will also allow you to ‘go for shots’ that you would usually not try in a monthly medal for fear of putting a big number on your scorecard. This can be exciting if you pull off the shot but not devastating if you don’t. Also this is a great format to be used on a corporate days because the round is usually quicker than a medal round and fosters team spirit.

Finally most golf competitions are a medal format throughout the season with some matchplay for the summer and winter leagues. Texas Scramble can give you another format to try which you may find breaks up the repetitiveness of your usual competitions.

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Hard, soft or no spikes at all, that is the question?

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In this post, Golf Talk is discussing the issue. With most golf clubs requesting the use of soft spikes and banning metal spikes from their greens, which is better?  Are golfers better off using hard, soft or no spike shoes when playing.

Golf shoes have come a long way over the years, originally they had longer metal spikes which allowed good traction and stability whilst swinging the club but as you know, the spikes were the main culprits for spike marks and the damage caused to greens.  Some golf tour players still use this method of spike but as the rules of golf state ‘players cannot repair spike marks on greens’, everyday club players have moved away from metal.

A lot of research and technology has been put into this question, which has allowed the use of plastic or soft spike shoes to become more wide spread, many golf courses now only allow play with this type of shoe as they help keep the fairways and the greens in good condition.  Although golfers say they the metal ones sounded better when walking to the 19th hole!

Another advantage to the soft spike is they are lighter which I’m sure your feet will like better, they also flex and bend whilst walking, which adds to the comfortability.  When purchasing soft spike check how to remove the old spikes and replace with the new ones – you may need tools to do this properly.  These tools can be bought from the same retailers as the spikes.

In recent times, the spike-less shoe has made an appearance, these shoes have dimpled rubber soles and have proven to be good on the driving range and in the summer where the ground is harder.  However, they do not have the same traction as a spike (they have been found to be less helpful when you are trying to play out of the rough) but look like a sports shoe so its down to choice – good looking shoes with less grip or a lightweight shoe with a soft spike that will help not to mark the green.

You have heard our thoughts, we will leave the decision to you …

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How to play out of the rough?

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No matter how well you are playing on the day you will, on occasion find yourself in the rough. Even the professionals play out of the longer grass a few times per round. So if it is inevitable that you will stray off the fairways. Then how best is it for you to deal with this situation? In this post we will give you a simple traffic light system that should help you make the right decision out on the golf course and keep those big numbers off your scorecard.

“Never follow a bad shot with a bad decision”golf ball

First things first. When you see that your ball is going off-line keep your eye on the ball and try to see where it lands. Try using a tree or other landmark to give you a reference point for your search. If you have a positive line on where you think the ball has landed you will find your playing partners much more motivated to help you look for your ball. Many golfers get so disappointed when they play a bad shot that they forget to look at the ball and usually have a difficult time finding it.

Now you have found your ball there are a few questions we want you to ask yourself to help you make the decision of whether you should play safe and get the ball back on the fairway or go for it!. What is the lie like? Playing out of the rough is more difficult than the fairway because of the lie. The ball can settle down into the grass which means that you cannot get a clean strike on the ball. On a score of 1-10, 1 being very poor and 10 being great. Asses your lie and if is less than 5 then you should really be looking to just chop the ball back out onto the fairway.

Next we want you to consider the position. Can you get on the green in regulation? Again assuming the 1-10 score. If you feel that the line or distance will prevent you from getting on the green you will need to seriously consider the safer play. However if you are striking the ball well and you think a fairly average shot could get you back in contention for a par then going for the green may worth it.

Finally we want you to consider your score. We have all seen good scorecards ruined by bad decisions. So if you are protecting a good score then the safer play might be the correct one to choose. After all, if you are protecting a good score then you must be playing pretty well up to now, so the chances of you dropping a shot and not being able to pick it back up somewhere else is low.

All in all, when you approach your ball in the rough ask yourself these three questions with an image of a traffic light signal. Red means that you will take the safer option and play the ball back onto the fairway. Amber is a 50/50 and you will need to consider the lie, position and your score. And green is go for it!

Now you have made your decision, what next?

Playing the ball back onto the fairway is considered the safer option, however we often see golfers get this wrong. The number one mistake we see is the golfer lifting their head to look for the ball. You want to see where the ball has gone and that you are back in play. This often leads to a poor shot and the ball remaining in the rough. Next time you are faced with this situation ask your playing partner to look out for the ball so you can keep you head down and play through the ball.

Also you will need to consider he strike you get on the ball when it is in the longer grass. It is not as clean. The ball does not have as much backspin because longer grass will get in between the ball and the clubface so the ball cannot compress against its grooves. This means that the ball will come out of the rough ‘hot’ and will roll more than usual. It is often advisable to play a lesser club to allow for this.

One last point to consider. Do you ever practice out of the rough? We have said that it is inevitable, so why do we not practice for this situation. The next time you are on the practice tee head over to the longer grass and play a few shot from there. You will soon start to develop a feel for playing out of the rough and increase your confidence for when this happens out on the course.

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What is Golf Etiquette? How to be courteous on the golf course

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The game of golf is different to many other sports due to not having a referee with you during your round. It does have its official rules of good play and also rules of etiquette, which ensures all golfers play with good sportsmanship and consideration throughout the round – not only with your fellow players but other golfers around you. In this article we will walk you through some of these etiquette rules:A man enjoying a game of golf

Firstly be quiet when somebody else is making a shot. Many golfers can loose concentration when there is noise around them. So please ensure that you do not talk or move when another your playing partner is about to take a swing. The best place for you to stand is behind the player out of their line of vision when your fellow competitor is about to play their shot. Again this is to not cause a distraction. Ensure all electronic devices are on silent there is nothing worse that a mobile phone ringing when you are about to take your shot. We recommend to turn them off completely so you are also not distracted by potential calls or text messages.

When on the green you should remember to again stay out of their peripheral vision and not to walk on the line between the golf ball and the hole. Your footprint can leave a temporary indentation on the green that could knock a putt off line. You must also consider your shadow, (especially when the sun is low) this must not be over the putting line either.

When its your turn to play, make sure you are ready to swing. It is essential to keep up with the group in front to ensure the pace of the game is made without any delay. We accept that some people play faster than others and playing at a faster pace may put you off your game. If this happens to you and you fall more than one complete hole behind, call the group behind you through and allow them to play ahead. This will not only make your round more enjoyable but the other players on the course.

When on the putting green leave your bags off the green towards the next hole, this advice is also true for golf buggies. Be ready to exit quickly once you have finished the hole. Also do not stand on the green and mark your card this can be done whilst walking to the next hole or on the next tee. Remember to keep up the pace of play.

Male golfer sitting on the hole information signLost balls can cause delays on the golf course. If you believe you have lost a ball, best practice is to play a provisional ball. A second shot that you will use if you cannot find your original ball. You now have 5 minutes to look for the ball. All of the golfers in your group should help you. If the ball proves difficult to find after your 5 minute search then you must play your provisional ball. Before doing so look to see if is a group behind you waiting. If so, you should call the group through before playing your shot, you will not be able to continue to play until this group has finished the hole.

Golf courses have grounds staff in place to maintain the golf course, however it is also your responsibility to take care of the course during your round and leave it in the condition that you found it, by completing the following:

– Smoothing out holes and footprints from a bunker when you leave it. Rakes are there for a reason so please use them. As the name suggests a bunker is a hazard and difficult enough without the ball landing in a footprint in the sand.

– Divots should be replaced on the fairway after each shot. If you want to keep your local course in good shape replacing divot will certainly help the green keepers.

– Care must be taken on the greens, any impact damage from a golf ball or shoes should be repaired before leaving the hole. We have discussed repairing pitch marks on earlier posts so please look back and learn how to repair your pitch marks.

– As previously suggested, your golf bags should be laid on the grass of the green when putting. It would be good practice for the flag stick to be put here too, in order to decrease the amount of damage on the green and players should not lean on their putters when retrieving a ball from the hole.

– The flagstick should be replaced in the hole before exiting the green. This sounds pretty obvious, however i’m sure we have all seen flagsticks left at the side of the green where the players have forgotten to put it back in the hole.

Finally the last thing we do before we leave the 18th green is shake hands with our playing partners and thank them for the game and their company.

Etiquette is what sets the great game of golf apart from other sports and dosen’t take any time, just some consideration for other players on the course.

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The exercise workout for golfers, keeping your health and game in good shape

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Golf is a dynamic game so you need a certain amount of fitness to play the game well. In this article we want to give you a few suggestions of what exercises you should be working on to keep you fit and help your golf game. Just as a not of caution. Please consult with your doctor or physician before attempting any new exercise program, and start any new exercise slowly.

Let’s start with the obvious. An average golf course is around six or seven miles so having strength in your legs to be able to walk this distance is essential. The easiest way to build strength in your legs is to walk. Try walking three to five miles, three times per week. This will give your legs the necessary strength to walk the course without to many problems. If you are not walking any kind of distance at the moment then remember to start off slowly and build up to these distances.

Your upper body is your swing engine. So maintaining good strength in your torso, arms and shoulders will will give you the opportunity to play at your very best. A great exercise for your upper body is rowing. This will exercise your arms, shoulders and abs. Use the rowing machine in your local gym on a low / medium intensity for two minutes slowly building up in 30 second increments until you can comfortably row for five minutes. You can then dial up the intensity to make the exercise more difficult if you want to.

If you do not have access to a local gym on a regular basis then a Dumbbell Set or Kettlebells are a great alternative to building upper body strength. Concentrate on lower weights and more repetitions. For example use a 1kg dumbbell in both hands and do twenty bicep curls with each arm. This will build up your arm strength with less potential for injury. Another great exercise to use with your weights is the squat to high lift position. Place your chosen weights in front of you and assume a squat position. Next take the weights from the squat all the way up to the high lift and hold for 3 seconds. This is an explosive exercise will build up your arms, shoulders, abs and legs.

There are many exercise regimes available to you that will help with your golf game from wights to gym work and walking. However for us at Golf Talk the most beneficial we have found is Yoga. This is an excellent combination of exercise, strength and flexibility and in our experience has helped numerous golfers maintain their golf swing throughout their lifetime. (please click the Yoga link to find out more).

Finally we know plenty of golfers who would love to embark on a new fitness regime but have issues with any kind of high impact workout. So if this is you, what can you do?. We love swimming. This is a great workout for golfers combining a low impact arms, legs and core workout with stretching of all the key muscle groups. And can be done anytime of the day, anywhere in the world. You just need to find your local pool. Why not give it a try!

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Six tips to keep you fuelled out on the golf course

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We all know that playing golf can be an energetic sport. The golf swing is a dynamic movement coupled with an average walk of around five to six miles. This means that we need to keep fuelling our bodies to give us the energy required to play our best golf.

Here we give you six tips on how you can keep yourself  fuelled for your next round…

  1. Golf ist gesundTry to avoid teeing off immediately after a meal. Leave a couple of hours between your meal and tee off time. This will ensure your food is digested.
  2. Drink plenty of water before and during your round. Dehydration can lead to poor decision making. So keep consuming the fluids. This is also important on those cold days. If you start to feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated.
  3. If you need instant energy then keeping a supply of nutrition bars in your bag can help give you that boost that you may need out on the course.
  4. Eating fruit out on the course can also be a good supply of energy. We recommend eating apples, strawberries and bananas to keep your energy levels topped up.
  5. Try to avoid any additional ‘sugar highs’ during your round. Chocolate bars, although nice are definite no no out on the course.
  6. If your course has a halfway house at the turn, avoid any big meals. This can make you feel lethargic for your back nine.

Good nutrition can have a dramatic effect on your golf game, giving you more energy during your round and may help you play your best golf yet.

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