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Tales from the Caddy Den — Part 1

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By Chase Penelli

GolfWRX Contributor

The stereo sounds that make their way through the thin pan glass of what people these days like to describe, “mid-century modern.” The cracks and pops from my feet as they meet the ground for the first time since the nights slumber. The eerie sounds of night, mornings typical pleasantries create an orchestral sound of those bumps in the night, hungry sparrows and sprinkler heads. I am ready, its time to get going.

Walking out the door I hulked down the traditional morning faire, a Nature Valley bar. I stepped off the front porch and nearly slipped on the fresh dew that coated the stone pathway, on top of that, was blinded by its reflective nature against the grass. Inhaling the crisp heavy air, I took one step forward down the street in my grass stained athletic shoes.

Turning the corner on Country Club Lane, catching a glimpse of the clubhouse, a smile came across my face. It is the day that I finally get that loop that everyone talks about for years to come. That guest of a member, full of great stories, phenomenal ball striker, just an all-around pleasure. A feeling that is so good you even forget about the tip, a round that feels like minutes.

Walking up toward the clubhouse was a chore, the pitch on the road grew exponentially to the point you could swear you were climbing the north face of Everest. I made it. Slightly breathless, I walked into the den. No one dare touch MY customary spot on one of the benches in back.

These benches had so many layers of a high lacquer forest green it made it hard to sit or lay without sliding off. This did make for quite an entertaining morning. Sitting where I did afforded me the ability to watch some of the older caddies stumble in from a restless night. A powerful thud sounded as they landed on the bench, generally the one as close as possible and within minutes… asleep. Not long after, they always seemed to find themselves woken by the carpeted concrete floor. Once they hit the floor they generally would forgo the bench, keeping them “grounded.”

I made sure to position myself where I couldn’t ever see the clock. They put a huge one in the den — it must have been some sick joke from the members. This clock was enormous, disproportional to the space. Anyone standing next to it always looked insignificant and on top of that it made a “tick” and “tock” sound. Since it was so big in such a small space sounded like a stereo that only made two sounds. There was no way around not hearing it. I have heard stories of people losing it; keep calm and “tick” “tock.”

I learned to think of it as a metronome; I mean, if I have to hear it all morning why not make it benefit my game? Closing my eyes, I would envision my putting stroke, back, forth, back, forth, back, and forth. It was the only way to survive!

They must have had some sympathy; I mean we did have a television to torment us with fuzzy pictures of places that we dreamed about… Pebble, Stadium Course, Andrews, Augusta, Augusta, AUGUSTA. Our eyes widened, hearts pumped, and emotions ran. No one dare sit in front of the TV. Most would keep it cool and watch from their respective territory. Since this was a civil establishment, they didn’t allow volume. It broke us down but our “in door” voices were like the perfect breeze on a course, not enough where it could be heard but certainly felt.

The rays from the sun are starting to creep through the windows, which told a veteran like me that it was close to 7:15 a.m. It should not be that much longer… My time was fast approaching. A rush of ides started to formulate in my head, which raised my blood pressure and energy level. I peaked out the window. My eyes dilated adjusting to the full onslaught of the sun. The early rounds well underway I saw groups of men getting ready to tackle the challenges of grass, water, and sand. This excited me — today was my day. On this day, a new chapter will be added to the impressive list of caddy lore. Praise, jealousy, and many other emotions will run throughout the inner-circle that is our caddy den.

Click here for more discussion in the “General Golf Talk” forum.

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

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TG2: So Jack has 21 majors now? Tiger at 17?

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Fred Couples has 5 majors? The Golf Hall Of Fame lists The Players, and a few more obscure tournaments, wins as majors? So does this now mean Jack has 21 and Tiger is at 17? What is going on there?

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6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 2

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

Following on from Part 1 of this article, we examine reasons 4, 5 and 6 for why golfers suffer from low back pain.

Reason 4: Weak Core Muscles

Before we make start making exercise recommendations for this complicated area of the body, it’s worth asking—what is the core exactly? There is considerable debate about this often misunderstood region. Back pain expert Professor Stuart McGill, explains it as follows:

‘The core is composed of the lumbar spine, the muscles of the abdominal wall, the back extensors, and quadratus lumborum. Also included are the multijoint muscles, namely, latissimus dorsi and psoas that pass through the core, linking it to the pelvis, legs, shoulders, and arms. Given the anatomic and biomechanical synergy with the pelvis, the gluteal muscles may also be considered to be essential components as primary power generators’

In a golf context, there is a common myth that the core muscles are our main source of power in the swing. In reality, the main role of the core is to provide stiffness and stable support for force/power transfer from our legs to our upper body

If we can create stiffness and stability in our core, we can help protect our spine and surrounding structures from unnecessary strain whilst also improving swing efficiency—pretty sweet combo!

Due to a combination of perpetual sitting, poor posture and other detrimental lifestyle factors, our cores tend to lose this ability to provide stiffness and stability. We can combat and correct this with a solid core conditioning program. Below are examples of some of our favorite exercises.

Dead Bug with Fitball – the combination of squeezing the fitball whilst extending arm and leg delivers all sorts of great stimulus for the core muscles.

Bird Dog – great for glute, core and back strength

Pallof Press – fantastic anti-rotation exercise. Good for strengthening the core whilst using the ground efficiently

Reason 5 – Not Warming up Properly/Not Warming up at All!

As we’ve explained above, mechanical back pain arises from too much stress and strain placed on the back. During the game of golf, we treat our spines terribly—expecting them to twist, turn and contort with the aim of producing decent golf shots!

If we don’t prepare our bodies for an activity like golf and just go out cold, we significantly increase the chances for strain and stress being placed on the lumbar area.

I’m sure many of you have had the experience of throwing a ball or a stick hard without warming up, and received a nasty sharp pain in your shoulder. Now, if you were to warm up before doing that; stretching your shoulder, making a few practice throws etc, you’d likely avoid strain altogether. Same goes for the low back and the golf swing – without a decent warm-up, there’s every possibility of a strain when trying to rip driver down the first!

By incorporating a warm-up into your pre-golf routine, you can significantly reduce the risk for injury AND help avoid that card wrecking double-double start! As a side bonus, warming up regularly can help your general health, fitness, and wellbeing too.

We know that most amateurs don’t warm up; a study done by Fradkin et. al showed that around 70 percent of amateur golfers seldom warm-up, with only 3.8% reporting warming up on every occasion!

A decent warm isn’t hard and doesn’t have to take ages to complete; research shows that a warm-up of 10-20 minutes is sufficient. In the video below, Marnus gives a thorough guide to a solid warm up sequence.

Reason 6 – Swing Faults

Let’s not forget the golf swing. One of the most common reasons I see golfers struggle with low back pain is that they are unable to “get to their lead side” and “get stuck” on the downswing. This causes the aforementioned excessive side bend and rotation from the low back, which we need to avoid! 

“Getting stuck” on the trail side

Now we aren’t golf coaches and therefore don’t deliver swing advice. However, there are some fundamental movement patterns that most golfers could benefit from practicing. In the videos below, one of our favorite body orientated swing coaches, Richard Woodhouse, is using one of our favorite training tools, the GravityFit TPro, to help teach an efficient movement pattern. The aim is to develop a strong connection between arms and body, using the hips and thorax to rotate, thereby helping to avoid “getting stuck.”

Summary

The absolute best practice for a healthy golfing lower back is working with a golf swing instructor and also a health/fitness professional that understands the body and swing connection. As a team, they would be able to identify and improve your individual swing faults, movement pattern dysfunctions, range of motion deficiencies, muscle weakness, imbalances, and alignment issues.

If you don’t have access to such expertise locally, you may want to check out the online services offered by Marnus and Nick here:

Marnus – https://www.marnusmarais.com

Nick – https://www.golffitpro.net/

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: My future hopes and some predictions

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats on his thoughts on the future of the golf market, what he loves, what he hates, and the star clubmakers on the rise.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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