Junior golfers from Orkney and Stromness Golf Clubs enjoyed a lesson in physical conditioning when they were joined by Scottish Golf Performance Manager Steve Paulding at Orkney’s indoor golf facility.
A total of 20 youngsters, along with nine coaches and parents, attended the workshop, which explained the importance of physical fitness to the golf swing.
Paulding delivered the session following a visit from his base at the Scottish Golf Union’s headquarters in St Andrews to Inverness, where he spent time with the North District Boys and Northern Counties Girls Squads.
Each child was taught the benefits of dynamic warm-ups and stretching exercises specific for golf, while both young and old took part in body weight training. This involved performing a range of exercises, including planks, lunges, press-ups, sit-ups and the use of therabands.
As well as providing a great deal of fun, the session gave all of those involved an insight into the theory behind performing repetitions and sets while overloading the muscles during exercising. Flexibility, and why it is critical to the golf swing, was also an important topic for discussion.
“It is essential that all youngsters understand the importance of being fit and healthy and what that really means,” said Paulding. “If you are doing a sport like golf, you need to understand the type of fitness work to do to be a better golfer; how to improve your stability and flexibility to create a more efficient and consistent swing is essential.
“Also, just having the general fitness to play a number of rounds of golf over a number of days without fatigue can be helped through the right fitness programme. But fitness is only one of many important factors that can improve their golf, such as psychology, nutrition, course management, and ensuring players understand the benefits and importance everything plays in their performance.
“The key message for me to get across was significant improvements at the early stages of development. Golfers do not need fancy gyms and equipment. They just need a simple programme of exercises and stretches they can do at home or at their club. Then it’s just a matter of getting on and doing it regularly as part of their weekly golf programme.”
Prior to his departure, Paulding left behind a Scottish Golf & Scottish Institute of Sport pack, providing coaches and parents with a repertoire of exercises to support the juniors that were inspired to adopt the contents of the session in their own training regimes.
And he is hopeful that the good habits he has helped to instil will work to the advantage of an already impressively athletic bunch of Orcadian youngsters.
Also in attendance was Willie MacKay, ClubGolf’s Regional Manager for the Highlands & Islands. He explained that while they have been given the tools to succeed, there is still a long road ahead for a young golfer looking to maximise his or her potential in the years to come.
“The session drew to a close with the older juniors, coaches and parents gathering around for a final talk on goal-setting,” said MacKay. “We discussed what they hope to achieve in five years’ time in golf and what stepping stones they have in place to get there. Can they half their current handicap each year? How will they plan their school work, golf practice and physical training?
“Most importantly, Steve left them with the idea that they should keep a diary of all of their training, practice and scores, which I hope is something they all adopt.”
Delighted by the impact Paulding’s coaching had on the youngsters from Stromness Golf Club, Junior Convener Douglas Slater said: “The kids all enjoyed themselves very much indeed. All the Stage 2 juniors really applied their minds to all of the different aspects of the exercises. The younger kids were well behaved and the way Steve delivered his training programme had a lot to do with the consideration given by the entire group.
“I am positive that all who attended learned a large amount of new ways to keep in shape for playing golf. I will certainly will be using this in our coaching meetings and pre-classroom sessions.”
Jenny Findlay, Orkney Golf Club joint ClubGolf Secretary, added: “The children enjoyed their day very much and, in particular, loved learning which muscles need to be developed to help improve their golf. For those juniors who hope to progress to a competitive level, the experience they had was invaluable in showing them what they need to do and how they need to go about achieving it.
“For others, who play for recreational purposes, the induction still proved to be beneficial by demonstrating how simple warm-up and stretching exercises can reduce injury and improve playing techniques.”
ClubGolf Scotland www.clubgolfscotland.com