Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Great Senior Golfer, Gordie Kono of Alameda, Back in Action!

Gordie Kono, back doing what he loves and poised to break age in scoring

Inspiration is always a good thing. Recently I spent a few hours with an old friend from Alameda High School (1979, go Hornets), Kirk Kono and his father Gordie Kono. Time with them inspired me and I hope will you too.

Quick background, Gordie is a very good golfer and even at 80 can shoot in the 70's. Kirk is a chip-off-the-old-block and even with a 12 hour work day with a big company in Los Angeles can roll out of bed and hit a three iron onto a green from 190 yards. I usually visit with the Kono family during the Christmas holiday. Last year during our visit, Gordie had told me he had to stop playing golf because of a pain complication in his neck and doctors couldn't give him a clear answer at the time if he could play pain free again. If you can picture a sad dog, that was him. Everything about him sort of drooped with sadness not really knowing if he could ever play again. Fast forwarding a year,he had a successful surgery, no pain and he's hitting balls again.

So here we are on the range and I get to see him hitting the ball again. He was hitting nice little draws with his driver and I'm pumping him with compliments. But he didn't look really pleased. "Gordie, what's up, you didn't like that one? What's wrong with that?" I said. "They're only going 180 if I could only get another ten yards...". And that is what I'm going to share with you, who doesn't want ten more yards?

First off that's the funny thing about golfers, even if he was hitting it 300 yards he probably would have said gosh if only could get another ten years. Really more importantly, and big picture of this article, he's back doing what he loves and wants to get better and now he's asking me as a coach, what I can do to get better? And that's the beauty of passion but it also ties in with readers who are looking for a better golf game for 2014!

Now let's start with the time of year, it's winter and unless you live in Hawaii or Florida you're probably not thinking a lot about golf right now (unless you've been out of the game a year like Gordie). Most of us are in a hibernated golf state and that's fine this time of year. Still you don't want to completely regress and have to rebuild from the ground up in May. This will be about doing exercises in three phases so you ready to play well whenever you ready to get back at it.

Word of caution, whether you're coming back from a long lay off or an injury take it slow coming back. Going full speed at drivers is explosive and getting to 100% is a process, so be patient. Case in point, when Tiger was rehabbing back from his surgically repaired knee he hit balls at 20 to 30% speed for months (that's great for timing practice by-the-way).

Now to hit it further there is a formula for maxing out your distance and it is a combination of these factors:

  1. Physics of Ball Flight- Are you compressing the ball in the middle of the face with optimum club delivery into golf ball (approach angle and path)?. Analysed by ball flight and launch monitor this would also help determine if you have the right driver.
  2. Kinetic Sequence- Are you maxing out your kinetic sequence (timing of power transfer from hips to
    shoulders to arms to club)? A $5 app called Golf Mtrx will let you know. The "step drill" shown in this drill by Sean Foley is a great way to dial in the timing of your power sequence.
  3. Fitness Level- What's your horsepower? Can it be improved?

One of the great golf resources is the Titleist Performance Institute's library of videos and articles on fitness and bio-mechanics. It really has everything you need to know for golf fitness and bio-mechanics whether you are tour player or annual hacker. I'm a certified trainer for TPI and I'm still a huge fan of what is available (and it's FREE).

TPI is overwhelming at first but hang in there and think you'll find it worth the time. The button "Advanced Filter/Search" will get you to where you want to be (eg this search was for core exercises). BTW- If you're a member of gym already and invest in a trainer. Aside from him prescribing a personalized regiment for you he will motivate you to stay on your program and help you manage the ramping up progression.

  • Phase 1- Off-season and assuming you are like most golfers, you are not playing much. This phase is about light work outs to keep up a modest base or foundation so moving to phase 2 isn't such a shock to your system. 
  • Phase 2- Tampering into on-season. Increase work- out effort and hitting more balls.
  • Phase 3- In-season work outs and a full schedule of golf and golf events.
So where ever you I will give you a general strategy on to move forward. Let's start with Phase 1.

I'm in this phase right now. I have played a couple times in the last two months and have been going to the gym maybe two days a week for 30 minute light workouts. My keys to maintain fitness this time of year is light cardio such as walking briskly or the like on a trend mill, trail or on a bike. Hey if you can do more, great but just getting your heartbeat up for some time is good.

During the walk I'll usually doing some push-ups or push-up planks (for core), stretches and squats (for glutes). The trail that I hike is uphill so I get a cardio workout too.

In phase 2 I'm simply building up frequency of work outs while also hitting range balls more often. In this phase you should you have good basic strength and flexibility and you could be doing more explosion drills like box jumps or jumping jacks.

In this phase I may cross train by tossing footballs, a Frisbee and playing tennis. These sports will force me to start doing more explosive type actions to hit or throw the object.

These days the new rage from top trainers is having their golfers walk a tightrope to develop strength and balance (try that).

Phase 3 just continues the progression. You are able to do your workouts at a high level without being sore for a week after. I feel comfortable now swinging all-out at a driver and I feel energized walking and playing 18 holes.

So back to Gordie, my advice for him to get ten more yards is to find a few exercises through the TPI site that address more power. In this link I created a search for "power" and for the the "core" part of the body, here was the result which has some helpful exercises,

So for some of you this may be too much work, no worries, just go out and play :)

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