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Golf — This Week's Grobby

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Check out that chip-and-run and watch that waggle. Or lose the lingo and just gear up for a game of golf, this week's Grobby (that's Greatist lingo for hobby). The Scottish started golfing in the 15th century, but no kilts are required to get the sport's health and fitness benefits, which include cardiovascular exercise, increased muscular control and strength, and some serious calorie burn.

Putt in Some Effort — The Need-to-Know

Photo by Shana Lebowitz

Modern country clubbers might be appalled to find that the earliest golfers played with pebbles and sticks on sand dunes. Golf became a fancy operation in 18th century Europe, where only the wealthy could afford handcrafted equipment. It wasn't until the mid-nineteenth century, when factories started producing cheaper clubs and balls, that golf became a popular sport among average Joes and Janes.

Today, pretty much anyone can get their golf on and get some good exercise at the same time. The game is fairly straightforward: golfers swing clubs to move a ball toward and into a hole in the fewest swings (a.k.a. turns) possible. A typical round of golf involves 18 holes.

Golfing involves a lot of not-so-obvious workouts, like walking between holes (no cheating by riding the golf cart!) and carrying a golf bag. Aerosmith might have been on the putting green when he advised fans to "Walk This Way," as golfers take an average of 10,000 steps (about five miles) in a typical round. Walking from hole to hole raises golfers' heart rates while burning calories and potentially reducing body fat. Plus, carrying around a golf bag is a workout in itself, since all that equipment can weigh up to 30 pounds! And while a full-out six-pack might not be necessary, serious golfers can improve their swing with exercises that engage the core muscles and simulate the torso rotation involved in taking a wack at the ball.

Join the Club — Your Action Plan

Not ready to grace the green alone? It shouldn't be too hard to find a golfing buddy— as of 2009, there were more than 28 million golfers in the United States. And though golfing can be pricey (in 2008, it cost an average of $50 to play an 18-hole course), there are ways to make the game more affordable, like golfing at off-peak times or joining a golf organization that offers discounts.

Golf might not look as dangerous as, say, tackle football (just don't get into a fight while wielding a club), but golfers risk a number of injuries when they don't properly prepare. Common ailments include rotator cuff tendinitis, golfer's elbow, pulled muscles, and back pain. Make sure to stay fit during off-season months and stretch for at least 10 to 15 minutes before a game to increase circulation and loosen up tight muscles [1]. Another, perhaps surprising, potential golf injury is hearing loss; one study shows that golfers who use titanium drives run the risk of incurring cochlear damage [2]. Oh, and golfers should always remember to bring two pairs of underwear... in case they get a hole-in-one.

Works Cited +

  1. Training to prevent golf injury. Family Medicine Spokane, Spokane, WA. Brandon, B., Pearce, P.Z. Current Sports Medicine Reports 2009; 8(3): 142-146.
  2. Is golfing bad for your hearing? Buchanan, M.A., Wilkinson, J.M., Fitzgerald, J.E., Prinsley, P.R. Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich. BMJ 2008; 337(7684): 1437-1438.

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