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August 2014
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GOLF: PHYSIOLOGY AND BASIC TRAINING

The aim of golf is to complete a series of holes on a course, which can be flat or hilly, in the lowest number of shots, using a small ball and highly developed clubs. In golf, technical finesse, precise shots and extreme concentration are usually brought together in the setting of natural landscapes, all over the world. A course is made up of 9 or 18 holes, which consist of long courses and very green fairways with lakes and sand bunkers, creating a very nice oasis, some of which are sometimes right next to cities, or even within them.

A bit of history...

Golf (which, it is claimed, comes from the Dutch word ‘Kolf’, which means club) has very ancient origins. It seems almost obvious that, during the Roman Empire, the legionaries who occupied the distant regions of England and Scotland, enjoyed their free time playing a game which was not so different to golf; it was based on hitting small, leather balls with a curved club, however, it is not known if they learnt this from the Scottish or vice versa.
The first accurate piece of information about golf comes from 14th century Scotland: at this time, golf was played with many different types of clubs (which were already quite advanced) on clumsily made golf courses, with players playing by - more or less - the same rules as today.
Golf has always been destined to stir up interest and in fact many critics have been converted to playing and enjoying this game. However, in 1457 a royal decree was issued prohibiting people from playing golf as it was considered a distraction from obligatory exercise, especially for those in the army. This ban was then confirmed by James IV but later he became ‘seduced’ by the sport and in fact became a passionate player. James V then inherited the kingdom from his father, as well as many problems, but golf became a must in his court and even his daughter, Mary Stuart, played and was seen playing on the field of Lord Seton just a few days after her husband died. This is probably the first, historical document that shows the importance of golf as a tonic for the soul against life’s stresses.
The first real golf club opened in 1744 in Edinburgh and ten years after the very famous and prestigious ‘Royal and Ancient Club of Saint Andrews’ opened.
Today golf is played all over the world and not just in Britain.

Physiology

During a game of golf, there are two main ways in which the body is worked out:

  • swinging the club so as to send the ball towards the green;
  • walking long distances to move around the course.

These two activities require good alactacid, anaerobic fitness so the golfer can carry out different types of hits, executed mainly using strength, speed and isolated coordination. Moving from hole to hole also requires aerobic fitness.  
The amount of energy consumed in a round of golf is equal to about 5Kcal/min. Golf is an aerobic activity that requires medium to low exertion, thus it is suggested that people who lead a sedentary life but want to play sport should look to golf as a form of regular, physical activity. Furthermore, it is recommended for suffers of non-serious heart disease and it is also a good for cardiovascular rehabilitation.

Training

Striking the ball requires strength and dexterity therefore these two factors are the base of a good training regime. Golfers should not just aim at increasing their muscle mass though, but also at creating simultaneous development of the muscles used in the swing. General toning exercises of the shoulders, dorsal and rotary muscles of the torso and the forearm are therefore recommended. Stretching is also important during training, as well as during the warm-up.
Moreover, the extreme precision that golf entails requires hours of practice (along with lessons from a golf teacher) so that the movement becomes natural to the golfer. Concentration is also very important and the player must be able to visualise the perfect shot so that they can hit the ball correctly, sending it away with the desired trajectory.

Diet

Since a game of golf lasts 4-5 hours, it is necessary to eat properly and eat regularly. Meals should be spread out and made up in such a way that the golfer, from the beginning to the end of the match, always feels full of energy and is not affected by fatigue or, in more serious cases, does not become hypoglycaemic.
Copious and rich meals are not recommended but instead the golfer should eat snacks like energy bars and drinks to replenish lost fluids; on a sunny day, dehydration can get up to 500-600ml/hour. Dehydration can also noticeably reduce muscular efficiency.
The diet of an active golfer should contain 15% protein, 25% fats and 60% carbohydrates, with most of that 60% being polysaccharides (rice, pasta, wholegrain bread, potatoes). Their food intake should also provide the recommended daily amount of trace elements.
According to the tee-off time and number of holes, golfers should establish a good food and rehydration regime.

GOLF

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