Since this is my first article for the Inter-Mountain, I thought I would give you a brief history of how I made a career out of a game I so passionately love. Growing up in a golfing family, I was exposed to golf at an early age. I remember well in my younger years heading to the golf course with my father and my uncle as they would play their weekend foursome game with two other family friends. As I watched my uncle hit iron shots with pin-point precision, and my father sinking putts from everywhere on the green, I was hooked. At the age of seven, I had my first real set of irons, a Ben Hogan junior set. We would go to the local par-3 courses and I would imagine myself putting for birdie to win the Masters. Memories I still cherish to this day. I continued to be a student of the game and more importantly, studying the swing. My first golf book was Hogan's "Five Fundamentals of Golf" - an "Oprah" must-read for those who want to play the game.
In the late 1990s, I moved south and took a job as the assistant pro at Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, N.C. I would work in the mornings and play in the afternoon. Every player needs a teacher, and I found a teacher in Steve Prueter, who was the Director of Instruction at the Jim Diamond Golf School, and he helped elevate my game through hard work and dedication. Most importantly, he showed me how to break down the golf swing and find my faults and how to correct them. Again, I was hooked. Not so much in playing, but in teaching the game.
In 2003, I moved back closer to home as I was the teaching professional at Edgewood Country Club in Pittsburgh. My summers were long and hot, but I loved every minute of it as I was on the lesson tee for most of the day helping people improve. The passion and drive for teaching was addicting, and I studied all the greats - Harman, Ledbetter, Haney and Pelz. I developed my own style of teaching from taking a piece from everyone I read or watched. I had my own brand of helping students learn.
In the golf business, we definitely wear many hats. However, teaching is the biggest hat I wear. With that being said, I would like to talk about probably is the most important thing to do to prepare for the golf season.
Golf Shape: The winter months can cause the body to change. Inactivity during the winter months can cause the body to lose golf muscles and flexibility. So, before you tackle that six-round golf vacation in Myrtle Beach, do some simple exercises to get you prepared.
Wake up a littler earlier than usual in the morning and stretch. You want to focus on the back, shoulders, legs and hips. Too many injuries happen because of a lack of stretching prior to and after a round of golf.
Secondly, find some time to walk. Having your legs in shape is necessary especially in the closing holes of a round. Legs are important in the golf swing and you don't want your legs to get weak on the closing holes.
Core Exercises: Between the chest and the knees is the "core" of the body. Having strong abdominal and lower back muscles help eliminate injuries due to the rotation of the body while swinging the club. While doing crunches or sit ups, hold a heavy weight to help build added strength in the area of focus.
Pushups and various free weights: Gary Player swears that his longevity in golf is based solely on exercise. At 77 years young, "Mr. Fitness" will play amazing golf for years to come. He boasts about the 300 push-ups and 500 sit-ups he still does every morning.
So remember, before you start to play this summer, make sure your body is ready to play. Being in golf shape can prevent injury and thus shortening your golf season.
- Doug Comer is the director of golf at the Clarksburg Country Club and the men's and women's golf coach at Fairmont State University.
Hole of the Week
To start the round, we visit the No. 1 hole at the Valley View Golf Course in Moorefield. A 340-yard, par-4 which features an almost 90-degree dogleg to the right at the bottom of a sloping fairway. Leave the driver in the bag to avoid trouble, and you should have a short chip to the green. There are trees to the right off the tee and trees at the turn of the fairway to warn you about blasting it too far. Sand traps set to the front and to right of a green that slopes from left to right.
Universal Law of Golf
Error must go somewhere. If your driver is hot, your putter is cold. If you can hit your irons, you will top your woods. If you keep your right elbow tucked in, your head will come up.