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Stretching at Tee Time

Golfing isn't considered a demanding aerobic sport, like running or biking, so why bother with stretching before a round?

"A player who doesn't stretch before a round takes longer to warm up and perform," says Jerry King, a Professional Golf Association golfer and director of instruction at the Kapalua Golf Academy in Maui, Hawaii. "This usually leads to a slow, bogey-ridden start and a sluggish finish."

Physical preparation for golfing doesn't require hours at the local health club, however. King says just 15 minutes of flexibility stretching with controlled breathing are ideal before strolling the links and can result in a stronger game.

But before stretching, it's important to get the cardiovascular system going.

"Ideally, you should begin each stretching session with at least five minutes of aerobic activity, such as jogging, jumping rope, riding on a stationary bike or any other activity that will raise your core body temperature and get your blood pumping," says King. "Increased blood flow in the muscles improves performance and flexibility."

Shape up

Once you get your heart pumping, it's time to perform the following stretches:

  • Calves. Place the ball of your right foot on a raised surface such as the back of a golf cart or a step and lean over slowly until you stretch the calf. Do the same with the left leg.

  • Hamstrings. Prop your right leg up on the golf cart so it's parallel to the ground. Bend forward slowly from the hip until you feel your hamstring stretch. Do the same with your left leg.

  • Back. Reach up with both hands and grasp the metal bar supporting the cart front. With your feet close together, lean back, leading with your rear end, until your arms are fully extended.

  • Overall posture. Place a golf club behind your back and hook it between your shoulders. Slowly rotate your upper body to the left and hold, then repeat on the right side.

Conclude these exercises either by swinging a heavy club or two irons.

Breathe slowly

According to King, you should hold each stretch for four slow breaths -- inhaling and exhaling through the nose -- and perform them in sets of two to five repetitions, with a 15- to 30-second break between each set.

Doing warm-up exercises prior to golfing is crucial, but so is being well-hydrated.

"Get into the habit of drinking a lot of water," says King. "Drinking an ample amount of water -- 10 to 16 ounces prior to and during a round of golf -- will assist you in staying focused and physically strong throughout the round."

Just as important, he adds, is electrolyte replenishment, with help from a sports drink such as Gatorade.

"The more effort you put into fitness and technique, the more positive results you'll experience on the golf course," says King.