With the warmer spring weather arriving, we’re dreaming of the golf season and looking forward to enjoying the greens once again. You may be surprised to learn that there are some wonderful fitness benefits that can be reaped from playing this much-loved sport. With that in mind, we recommend you put golf on your must-do fitness activity list for when we’ve got the all-clear to start spending time in the great outdoors again.
Today, we are talking about the fitness benefits of golf with eight-time Canadian Long Drive Champion, Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk. Golf, as Lisa points out, is a lifelong active sport that is done outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Because it is low impact, it does not put the same kind of stress on joints that other sports can. Golf also uses multiple muscle groups, and requires some degree of flexibility, as participants turn and rotate while swinging the club. “As long as you are healthy and mobile, golf is something you can do in your golden years,” she says. “By walking nine or eighteen holes, this sport offers golfers an easy way to reach their ten-thousand-step goal that many fitness tracking devices suggest as a target.”
The beauty of golf is that you don’t have to be a peak athlete to play. Golfers of all shapes and sizes regularly take to the green here in York Durham Headwaters, and around the globe, to enjoy this great activity. That being said, the fitter and more flexible you are, the easier it is to swing the club and create club head speed. “One of the most important things you can do to stay in great golf shape is to have a stretching routine that you perform regularly,” Lisa advises. “This will make it easier for you to get into the proper golf positions, and it will help prevent injury. If you are someone who enjoys working out, then you will want to focus on the legs, glutes and core muscles—especially your oblique muscles—for strengthening if you are looking to add distance to your game.”
In addition to the physical benefits, golf offers tremendous social benefits. It is a fantastic sport to connect with friends and family, and is one of the best business networking sports out there. “People do business with people they know, like and trust,” Lisa points out. “A couple of hours spent on the golf course creating shared memories and experiences goes a long way to business success.”
Then there are the benefits for kids. In an age when children are often glued to their devices, golf is a sport in which devices are put away. Families can reconnect and share stories while playing, and it is a chance for parents to teach incredible life skills. “Golf is a game of integrity,” Lisa says. “You call penalties on yourself. It is a game of honour, and of respect. There are rules and etiquette to follow which include not talking or moving while your playing partner is making a stroke.”
“I also believe that golf makes you mentally strong,” she adds. “You need to concentrate and focus to hit a great golf shot. You are competing against yourself, or you can compete against others, which is a mental test to do better every time you tee up.”
Lisa, who was introduced to golf at the age of 14, is entering her 20th year competing in the professional long drive. She notes that, when she was a teenager, the strong Junior Girls golf programs that we have today didn’t exist, and the nine holes a year she played with her father were not enough to encourage her to compete professionally. That changed when she was in her 20s. “My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, was being invited to corporate and charity golf tournaments, so I needed to learn the game as a business networking skill,” she says. She enjoyed it so much that she volunteered at an LPGA Tour even in 1999, and was so inspired by the women she met that she decided she wanted to compete in the sport.
If you don’t believe that golf really can be for everyone, then let us tell you that Lisa was the first pregnant athlete at the World Long Drive Championship. At six-and-a-half months pregnant, many assumed that this would be a huge disadvantage for the athlete. However, Lisa credits her training for the World Championship with keeping her extremely fit and strong throughout her pregnancy, and allowing her to win through her first two brackets during the event. She placed in the top ten in the world that year, serving as a positive role model to expectant moms who want to stay active and healthy during pregnancy. (Lisa notes that doctors recommend expectant mothers do not begin any new rigorous activity during pregnancy. However, since she was already active in golf training prior to her pregnancy, she was approved to continue her regime.)
For anyone wanting to get into golf as a lifestyle activity, Lisa recommends taking lessons with a PGA professional. “Golf is an extremely technical sport,” she says. “The more proper techniques that you know, the easier the sport will be. You can take group lessons if you are nervous about doing a one-on-one, or you can go with one or two friends and hire an instructor.”
Lisa Vlooswyk is an eight-time Canadian Long Drive Champion, finishing as high as 2nd worldwide for this title. She currently competes on the Golf Channel’s World Long Drive Association Tour. An LDA Tour Champion and Callaway Golf-sponsored athlete, Lisa was the first woman ever to hit a golf ball the length of three-and-a-half NFL football fields. She currently holds the Canadian Women’s Long Drive record at 350 yards, 2 feet, 2 inches.
In addition to her competitive career, Lisa is a golf journalist for several publications including Inside Golf Magazine, and has had her own column in Golf Digest Canada. She is a successful keynote Peak Performance speaker at conferences and conventions, is a golf entertainer for many corporate and charity golf tournaments across North America, and she runs her own golf school for women in both Canada and the United States. In recognition of her entrepreneurial success, Lisa was awarded the Bank of Montreal Celebrating Women award for Expansion and Growth in Small Business. For more information on Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk, visit her website at www.lisalongball.com.
Story by Katherine Ryalen