Winter is long; now’s the time for prevention and preparation

Saskatchewan winters are long, for avid golfers the season seems to last forever.

The long offseason can not only bring people down mentally, becoming “stagnant” over the cold, dark days can also affect your physical health, and your golf game. With a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a Level 3 Certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) professional, Tanner White is hired by clients in Regina and southern Saskatchewan to work on their bodies, and game. He said starting a winter fitness program shouldn’t have you diving right in.

“You need to start slow,” White told Golf Saskatchewan. “If someone does have an injury or an ailment let’s first figure that out, what’s causing that? Once that’s covered we can look at how do we get stronger? More powerful, more speed?”

White said no one knows your own body and golf game better than yourself. You need to identify what part of your body needs to be stretched more or more mobile. He added many clients start shaking the winter blues by simply walking on the treadmill just to get their body moving. White does guide his clients or anybody working out to begin slow and as you elevate your program you need an end purpose.

“Having structure is important to keep individuals accountable for what they are trying to do,” he explained. “You need to understand what each individual is capable of doing and what their body is capable of handling and what their goal is. What is the main intention you are looking to get out of your program? Let’s build it around that.”

For golf, building your body is unique. White said not many sports incorporate the opposite side of your dominant hand needing to be stronger due to the core motion of a golf swing. Naturally our bodies are stronger on our dominant sides. White said you need to find a balance if you hope to elevate your game and swing.

“It is important over the off-season that you have a focus on getting your body as equally as strong and mobile as both sides as you can. The body will then be more efficient when it’s equal,” he added.

There are many benefits to having a winter program, the most sought-after result is hopefully less rust at the start of the season and potentially lower scores. Additional side effects will include better overall health and being less prone to an injury.

“Injuries come from one or multiple muscles are over stimulated and opposed to the other side and that’s what’s causing injuries. That’s why a well-balanced strength training program is very important. That’s what is ultimately going to help minimize injuries,” he explained.

The next phase of your winter conditioning program should be keeping it fun and interesting. Golf is a game that prides itself on never being the same. Courses are different, weather is never identical, lies will be different for every stroke keeping the sport fresh. White said that’s important in your program as well to keep your mind fresh and engaged.

“There’s some individuals that will say do the same workout plan for five years, you lose that mental drive,” White proclaimed. “That’s why getting on some type of program is important for people. It keeps you structured and keeps you motivated for what you need to do.”

White is a firm believer in keeping workouts fresh. At 1621 Club where he’s a trainer he will alter the focus area of the body every few weeks for group workouts. He said that keeps the attendees engaged, and they don’t get bored with the same workout for months or years on end.

White works with clients of all ages, and all sporting backgrounds in Regina at the 1621 Club. He is also a member of the PGA of Canada so there is a golf focus and he can provide top-notch training for anyone looking to get better, improve their health or get stronger. In the end he said golf has many factors we can’t control such as weather, the course, or other players. He said you need to look after the limitations you can control, and your game will be better for it.

“What is your nutrition like? You have full control of that, make sure that’s in line. Hydration, you have full control of that, make sure that’s in line. Exercise, you have full control of that, make sure that’s in line. Then we have the mental side of things which you have full control of as well. If more golfers took care of all those items those other variables on the golf course are less impactful. Take control of your life and improve on those variables,” he concluded.

Golf Saskatchewan reached out to several golfers, of all skill level who have made a serious commitment to working on their body and game over the winter months. Tony B. (the subjects preferred to not use their last names) said he doesn’t need to use the first few rounds to shake off the “rust.”

“It has made me feel far less rusty in terms of physical abilities in the early parts of the golf season whereas in previous years, it had taken a few rounds to get the golf muscles back in shape. This way, I feel more prepared and able to play golf with an improved physical ability at an earlier time in our short season. I would also argue that with consistently doing some work on mobility and rotation, my swing has become much more consistent and dare I say powerful with less effort or strain,” Tony said.

Jason G. is a former collegiate golfer. It’s been 15 years since he played on the college level, but he said going back to working over the winter on his game has helped him get back to that level.

“Over the last two years I have found greater consistency in my golf game and just completed the 2019 season with my game being the best it is has been since graduating from playing collegiate golf back in 2005. I did not practice any more or harder on the golf swing or game specifically, so I have to attribute some or most of the improvement to my game to the overall mobility and strength I have developed working with golf specific training,” Jason explained.