Twenty-five years ago this month I had back surgery to clean up the debris left behind after a disc in my lower back had ruptured. It was a critical time for me as there was huge uncertainty as to whether I would be able to get back to being able to get out on tour again. I quizzed my surgeon as to the expected length of recovery time required and, most importantly when would I be able to start putting, chipping, swinging and hitting shots again? He confessed he had no idea, never having been involved in the rehab of any of his patients and he had simply no clue when, or if, if I could recapture my former skills. “But,” he said, “I’ll find out for you.” And, true to his word, he did.
My surgeon had a pal who was an orthopaedic surgeon in the States and who had conducted similar ops on several PGA Tour players. Most importantly, however, he had studied the best, most effective and quickest rehab for his golfers. For those of you of a certain age this was the era of the fax machine and soon scores of pages of advice and exercises were spewing out in my office at home. This, believe it or not, was my first serious introduction to golf specific exercises and fitness. Who knew such a thing existed? Three years later Eldrick Woods, aka Tiger, turned pro and the entire professional golf world was off and exercising. So, it’s fair to say my tournament career straddled the line between no-one really doing too much, fitness-wise, to virtually everyone doing something. It was quite a change – no longer was Gary Player a lone voice!I’ve never been a lover of gyms per se. As far as I’m concerned they are a means to an end. In my case that initially meant getting fit enough to take strain off my vulnerable back and play on tour. Later, as a coach, it meant keeping up with my young players and not asking my squads to do anything I wasn’t doing myself. But I retired from coaching international squads a decade ago and in the interim I’ve rarely visited a gym, preferring to do a little bit at home instead on the ole exercise bike. By and large, though, I became lazy.
And then 2017 happened. I had a poor year health-wise and spent a lot of time at home, drawbridge up, portcullis down, with my 60th birthday looming early in 2018. Once I began to feel a little better I thought it was time to have a new goal, something to inspire me and encourage me to up the fitness levels again. I decided to do something I’ve done twice already – namely climb Table Mountain. I did it with relative ease twenty years ago and thirteen years ago when I puffed my way up to the top I was stung when my husband said, “I can’t believe how unfit you are!” Well, we are revisiting the Cape in April and, though it may be unrealistic, I’ve set myself the goal of doing the climb once again and seeing if I can make the summit.
I’ve enlisted the help of Annette Stroud, a fitness trainer friend who has written me a couple of non-gym programmes and we only do the odd session in the gym just to check technique and tweak the exercises. I may well be mad but almost seven weeks in I feel so much better than I have for ages and already I feel the benefits on the golf course.
If you want to help improve your performance on the course, there’s no need to kill yourselves………just try a few power walks and you’ll feel better on the back nine than you could have believed possible. Give it a wee go – you’ll enjoy the benefits – and watch this space to see if I manage my climb in April!