Snow is not a golfer's friend. In fact, sitting around on your couch, watching football, and eating pizza is not a golfer's friend either.
Golf is a game of precision, flexibility, and power. I live in Pennsylvania, so to say our golf season is "shortened by winter" is an understatement. It's difficult to hit balls when there are three feet of snow on the ground, but despite that, I'll be improving my golf game this winter. How?
Using Mike Pedersen's Ultimate Golf Fitness Guide. Pedersen's eBook is priced at $47 and aims to offer a range of stretches, exercises, and dietary tips that will help you improve and maintain your golf game.
I have worked with thousands of golfers who had already been exercising, but doing the "wrong" ones. They were actually hurting their game, not helping it.
This book will show you how easy it is to put together a golf fitness program, with minimal equipment, that can be done in your home… in less han 30 minutes. And it will be the most golf-specific fitness program you've ever done!
The Ultimate Golf Fitness Guide is comprised of twelve chapters and an appendix. Chapter one contains an introduction that explains the importance of being fit and flexible using real-life examples. Several strength and flexibility tests allow you to rate your skills. The results may surprise you!
The meat of the book is found in chapter four, where golfers can use the ratings they've discovered in the previous chapters. Individualized exercise programs are crafted for beginning, intermediate, and advanced golfers (not by skill level or handicap, but by the ratings you've given yourself in the flexibility and strength tests).
Each program exercises three areas of your body: the trunk, the upper body, and the legs. A strength exercise is followed in each case by a stretch. Sets and reps are listed in a handy chart, and each of the following pages demonstrates one routine with imagery, instruction, and a list of benefits. For example, "Crunch on a Stability Ball" helps you maintain your spine angle and strengthens core muscles (among other things).
The regimens are easy to follow and well explained and illustrated. The regimen charts merely list the name of the exercise and the reps and sets, so golfers without a computer in their exercise room will need to print out 20 pages or so of instruction until they memorize the "hows" of each routine. A quickie guide would be quite helpful.
Chapters two and three discuss the moves of the golf swing, your general fitness, and how each is affected by the other. We all know that strength is important, but is upper-arm or chest strength important to the golf swing? How about hip flexibility? What part of the golf swing is affected when you strengthen your abdomen? Chapters two and three contain the answers. As with any exercise program, it helps to know why you're doing something, and this book does as good a job as I've seen at this.
Chapter five discusses your "core" - your torso and trunk - because Pedersen believes that a strong core is centrally important to being fit for golf. Chapters six through eight provide balance ball, medicine ball, and exercise tubing routines that you can add to your workout routine, though it's confusing how best to integrate these exercises into the routines laid out in chapter four or for what level of intensity each of the provided exercises targets.
Chapter nine is another important chapter, as it provides nearly 30 stretches to be done before, during, and after a round of golf to gain and maintain maximum flexibility. Some involve a cart, but walkers should be smart enough to adapt the challenge to trees, benches, and other items.
Chapters 10 and 11 provide exercise routines for your office and when traveling - the office program uses nothing but a chair, and the travel program uses nothing but exercise tubing (which packs comfortably in carry-on baggage). Chapter 12 wraps up with some motivating thoughts that will help you get into the habit (it takes 21 days to form a habit!) of making these routines a part of your day.
Your Home Gym
Finally, Appendix A offers information on setting up your own home gym. This is one of the best things about Pedersen's program: your entire "gym" consists of only:
- medicine balls
- stability balls
- exercise tubing
Each item costs about $30 or less, and judicious individuals (i.e. those who want to use a gallon jug filled with water in place of a medicine ball) can spend very little. You don't need to buy a Bowflex or some heavy-metal huge piece of equipment - you can be up and running (or squatting) with this exercise program within minutes. Do it while watching golf on TV in your living room - if you have a 6' x 6' area and 30 minutes three times a week, you're set.
The book is not without its flaws, though. It feels a bit rushed: one of the exercises - a "Stationary Golf Swing" with a medicine ball - was omitted in my copy. The regimen tells you to do it but the page demonstrating the technique and the benefits is missing. This error has since been corrected.
Also, the grammar and spelling could stand to be improved. It may not bother you to read that "medicine balls is within this program," but it bothers me and does not help to establish a professional tone. Mr. Pedersen would do well to pay an editor.
Throughout this book, I mention picturing yourself as an athlete; and how an athlete prepares for his/her sport. At the top of the list is conditioning. And within this conditioning program is definitely medicine balls.
Ultimate Golf Fitness Guide justifies itself in the end both with core competency and a few little bonuses, including a 30-minute phone conversation with Mike Pedersen.
Tee Time Diet is a five-page guide that provides information on your diet. It includes an eating regimen that won't add weight to your frame or inches to your waistline but will maximize energy for production on the course. Several different diets based on different tee times are available. Unless you play golf every day, this isn't an "every day" diet, but simply one for "the day you play."
50 Golf Tips offers 50 quick golf tips (about a paragraph apiece) that you can use immediately. It's nice to have them in "PDF paper" form (electronic though it may be), but you can always visit learnaboutgolf.com for these tips. Some of the tips may be silly to long-time or advanced players, but most bear repeating.
Golf Like Tiger Can, by Ken Black, is a 77-page book (PDF) that offers up several of the standard tips on course management, shotmaking, putting and the like. If you've subscribed to Golf Digest or Golf Magazine for a few years, you've heard most of it, but sometimes hearing it again (or in a different fashion) lets it sink in, so the book is good for that if nothing else.
The Mentally Mutilating Dirty Dozen by Paul Evans is perhaps the funniest thing in this whole package. This PDF contains 12 instances of "gamesmanship" and other head games that you can use against playing partners. Not listed is asking your partner whether they breathe in or out on their downswing (I've always found this effectively destructive), but 12 other "good" (i.e. evil) tips are included. Some may break the rules ("giving advice"), but you are your own (moral) judge here.
When all is said and done, Mike Pedersen's Ultimate Golf Fitness Guide is $47 well-spent. The book is among the best you'll find and doesn't treat golfers like regular folks, with exercises and stretches aimed at golfers with a living room, not a home gym full of expensive equipment. The price may be a bit steep, and you may be annoyed by some of the grammar and a missing page or two, but the extras step in to fill in any "value holes" and make it a lock.
Your $400 driver won't help you nearly as much as this book will. A $25 physical book isn't easily searchable as a PDF is. The $25 books I've seen offer far fewer exercises and go into much less depth than this book. Authors of physical books are not as accessible as Mike Pedersen.
$47 is less than one month of gym membership, a dozen premium golf balls, and a training club. Buy the book and it may pay for itself in won wagers! If you've got a winter coming up - or if you're getting older (hey, nobody's getting younger), Ultimate Golf Fitness Guide is a solid book that, if followed, will improve your game.