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How gymnastics helped my golf game

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Chelsea Adams is a former competitive gymnast turned junior tournament golfer. She resides in sunny Florida where she works tirelessly on her game.

The slogan for USA Gymnastics is “Begin here. Go anywhere.” Whoever came up with that phrase is absolutely right. My background in gymnastics helped turn me into the golfer and overall athlete that I am today.

I was five years old when I had my first gymnastics class. It started with a recreational class and transitioned into competitive team practice. For the next eight years, the gym was literally my home away from home. I practiced five days a week for four hours per day. I grew up in an environment where discipline and hard work were expected from children.

I had Olympic dreams and only missed practice when I was sick or injured. I never complained about the conditioning because I knew that my body had to be strong enough to withstand the difficult skills and routines. Gymnastics is one of the greatest sports to develop speed, coordination, flexibility, agility, power, strength and grace. In my opinion, it’s better than any traditional workout regimen because the exercises revolve around lifting your own body weight. The movements gave me a great sense of body and air awareness.

When I started training the higher-level skills, I sustained some injuries and decided it was time for a fresh start. I have a passion for sports and needed to find a new outlet to channel my athleticism. Golf came as a suggestion from my mom, whose father was an avid golfer. The golf swing requires a lot of core and upper-body strength and I thought it would be a good fit. I decided to take the plunge and get a lesson with the local pro. I fell in love with golf after I hit my first ball. I knew that this was the sport for me and I was determined to become a great golfer.

My years of gymnastics training taught me how to focus and practice with a purpose. I always make sure I go to the range, putting green or chipping area with a plan. It’s never advisable to go to the range or short game area and hit golf balls without a target. You will benefit a lot more from having a practice agenda for the day.

My understanding of lag in the golf swing was enhanced because of a skill I performed on the uneven bars. While doing giant swings on the bars, one of the things you have to do toward the bottom of the swing is called a tap. This is when you arch your back and then quickly kick your feet over your head in order to gain momentum. To me, that is exactly what lag in the golf swing is. It’s a whipping motion that is performed in an effort to gain speed near the impact zone. I don’t think I would have understood lag as well as I did without making that connection.
Golf Driving Range

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of playing golf as a former gymnast is the ability to drive the ball far. This is a huge advantage especially amongst girls. Having shorter approach shots into greens provides a better opportunity to get closer to the pin and make more putts. What can be better than that?

Golf is a great sport because it can be played throughout your entire life. There’s always something different to work on and it provides a constant challenge. That’s the beauty of the sport.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. 8thehardway

    Feb 22, 2013 at 7:06 am

    “Begin here. Go anywhere.” that is a great slogan. Any advice for a senior needing flexibility, power and grace?

    • Chelsea Adams

      Feb 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Thanks for the comment! The first suggestion I would make it to enroll in an adult gymnastics class. If that’s not your thing, consider yoga or Pilates. Those are great for building flexibility, power and grace.

      • Chelsea Adams

        Feb 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

        Thanks for the comment! The first suggestion I would make is to enroll in an adult gymnastics class. If that’s not your thing, consider yoga or Pilates. Those are great for building flexibility, power and grace.

  2. Shari Wasser

    Feb 22, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I am so impressed with your dedication to hard work, and I love that you transferred your skills to another sport. You have real tenacity that will carry you anywhere you want to go!!!

  3. Kadin Mahmet

    Feb 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Nice article Chelsea! My daughter is in gymnastics class as a 3 and a half year old. I think it’s great for her core strengthening, balanance and body awarenss. I was actually going to write about this in my series as well!

    • Chelsea Adams

      Feb 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Thank you. I would be interested in reading about your thoughts on the impact gymnastics has had on your daughter.

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Opinion & Analysis

The History of Course Design is Yours to Play at Oglebay

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There is a much-talked about “New Golden Age” of golf course design underway that is driven by demand for ever-more spectacular courses at the top end of the resort golf market. Destinations such as Streamsong, Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Sand Valley and others provide the traveling golfer a spectacular golf experience; unfortunately, it comes at a price tag that is equally spectacular. When a week playing golf in Florida can cost as much as a week in Scotland, where do you go for a golf getaway that doesn’t require a second mortgage?

Oglebay Golf Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, doesn’t just provide an affordable golf vacation option; with its three golf courses, it provides players the chance to experience a condensed history of American golf course design through its three courses. The resort sits on land that was once owned by a wealthy industrialist and is now a part of the city park system. Located about an hour from Pittsburgh, Oglebay draws the majority of its golfers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. It’s kind of cool that when you drive to Oglebay from the Washington, D.C., you hit all of those states except Ohio, which is just a few minutes away from Wheeling. The area is especially picturesque in the autumn months when the changing colors of the leaves are at their peak.

The property has a rich history in the business and sporting history of West Virginia, but the three golf courses, Crispin, are a special prize that taken together form a primer on the history of golf design in the past 90 years. The 5,670-yard Crispin course is a one-off design by local golf enthusiast Robert Biery that was completed in 1930 and is a fascinating study of design techniques of that era. The slopes and elevation are severe and extreme by today’s standards. A clue was the raised eyebrow of the assistant pro when I said that I would walk the course. Uneven lies are the order of the day, the product of a time when there was neither the money nor equipment readily available to create gentle slopes and even surfaces; the course is true to the original contours of the West Virginia hillside.  There is little relief on the greens, which run a little slower than typical greens but make up for it in size and slope. It is by far the shortest of the three courses but the par-4 8th hole and par-5 9th holes are a thousand yards of joy and pain.

Hole No. 6 at the Klieves course

The Klieves Course is a 6,800-yard, par-71 Arnold Palmer design that was completed in 2000. The design features broad fairways, mildly undulating greens and opportunities for heroics on short par-4’s, all the prototypical characteristics of modern resort golf courses. While some architects choose to torture and torment, Palmer courses put a premium on fun and this one is no exception. The par-5, 515 yard 6th is a great example of the risk/reward available without that challenges the resort golfer without the need to humiliate. The course is very well maintained tee to green, and you’ll want to keep a fully charged battery to take photos of the vistas from the elevated tee boxes.

Hole No. 13 at the Jones course

In my humble opinion, the true gem is the Robert Trent Jones course. The 7,004-yard, par-72 Course carries a healthy 75.1 rating/141 slope from the back tees. It utilizes a gorgeous piece of land that meanders across the West Virginia hills to give a mesmerizing collection of holes that are equal parts scenery and challenge. Both nines start from elevated tee boxes hitting down into valleys that offer classic risk/reward propositions. Usually I have no problem identifying a favorite hole or two, but on this course it’s difficult. Having said that, the stretch of No. 4 (par 3, 193 yards), No. 5 (par-5, 511 yards) and No. 6 (par-4, 420 yards) are among the best I have played anywhere as a show of nature’s beauty and the at of laying out a golf hole. And the four par 3’s are not the place to pic up an easy birdie. The only one less that 190 yards from the tips is the 158-yard 15th, which is protected by a small, undulating green. All in all, it’s a perfect representation of the genius of Robert Trent Jones.

The golf is good at Oglebay and the prices are better. You can get in 18 at the Oglebay courses for as little as $32…on the weekend. And when you’re not playing golf, you can take advantage of the myriad of outdoor sports activities, tour the Oglebay mansion, hit the spa or visit the Glass Museum on the property (I promise it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds). There’s a lot of great new golf resorts out there and that’s a good thing for the golf industry, but destinations like Oglebay prove that there’s a lot of life left in the old classics as well.

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Two Guys Talkin’ Golf: “Are pro golfers actually underpaid?”

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Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX editor Andrew Tursky argue whether PGA Tour players are actually underpaid or not. They also discuss Blades vs. Cavity backs, Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Thomas and John Daly’s ridiculous 142 mph clubhead speed.

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Legend Rees Jones speaks on designing Danzante Bay in Mexico

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Hall-of-Fame golf course architect Rees Jones talks about his newest course design, Danzante Bay at Villa Del Palmar in Mexico. Also, Jeff Herold of TRS Luggage has an exclusive holiday discount offer for GolfWRX listeners!

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