Saturday, October 10, 2009

Golf and Rugby Added as Olympic Disciplines by an IOC Panel in Copenhagen, Denmark : Some Sports Media Analysts Lose the Point



See also, IOC President Jacques Rogge reports on the new Olympic sports, Golf and Rugby and the coming Olympic agenda

As reported by UPI (United Press International), the IOC (International Olympic Committee) on Friday, October 9, 2009, added men's and women's golf as well as rugby to the lineup of Olympic sports for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic games. The men's and women's golfers each will play a 72-hole tournament. Five other sports were also considered but were not added to the Olympics (baseball, karate, roller sports, softball and squash).

Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Olympics while the 2020 location has not yet been determined.

To my great surprise, some of the media do not want golf added to the Olympics because of Olympic purity - is that intended as a joke? - and because golf is such an "easy" sport for the well-to-do. The SportBlog at the Guardian and Sport at Daily Mail Online are good examples of postings which miss the point entirely and seem not to realize that the pristine sports they imagine, not sponsored by somebody - especially by nations - are a utopian idea which has no truth in reality. There is virtually no difference between pro athletes and the athletes that most nations sponsor in search for national glory. Shame on you people for picking on golf. Shame.

Having been in other "athletic" places other than the golf course in my life (see here), I can say that many golfers such as myself started their golf careers caddying for older players at an age where we caddies were lugging gigantic bags twice our size over hills and dales covering many miles just to make a dollar - which we saved so that we could one day buy golf clubs of our own and also play the game. I can think of few sports at that early age which were as physically demanding as golf for a pair of young legs. Believe me, baseball, track, jumping and leaping and all that were much easier.

People who denigrate the health and athletic value of golf have invariably seldom played golf and vigorously walked 18 holes on a hilly golf course. As far as the "sport of golf" is concerned, such critics in most cases have no idea what they are talking about, especially in terms of the health value of the game. See Add Five Years to Your Life : Play Golf : Swedish Medical Study Shows Golfers Live Longer : The Lower Your Handicap the Better : It's the Game !

We have a friend who is a proficient black run alpine skier who is always amazed, as she says, that she is more tired after the first hilly golf round of the season than she ever is on the ski slopes in the Alps.

Similarly, we have another friend who is a tennis ace and an "extreme sports" long-distance cross-country skier who thinks nothing of putting in 70 kilometers in a day in races such as the Rajalta Rajalle-Hiihto, but he was unexpectedly amazed at how tired he was after his first round of golf on a very hilly golf course, because, as he said, the stop-and-go nature of the walking in golf is far more tiring than the moving pace of cross-country skiing.

As written at golfmagic.com about amateur and pro golfers:
"Don't let anyone tell you golf isn't a physically demanding sport - or that pro golfers aren't real athletes. Now it's official - golf can punish your body and if you don't take care of it, your enjoyment of the game could be cut short....

A study in The Golf Biomechanic's Manual by Paul Chek revealed that amateur golfers achieve approximately 90 percent of their peak muscular activity when driving a golf ball. "This is the same intensity as picking up a weight that can only be lifted four times before total fatigue. This level of exertion and muscular activation equates golf with such sports as American football (equivalent say to rugby), ice-hockey and martial arts. The difference is that other athletes outside of golf include conditioning as an integral part of their preparation before they play." [emphasis added]
That same article writes:

"Tiger Woods has revealed that his practice routine before the US Open - which he eventually won after playing 91 holes - was to hit a few balls on the range, sit in his golf buggy until the pain subsided, then hit a few more balls.

His win over Rocco Mediate after a 19-hole play-off, confirms not only gritty talent but proves that it's a physically demanding game whether you're world No.1 or a mere beginner. Key muscles and joints get stressed especially when fatigue sets in towards the end of 18 holes.

"We just beat up our bodies," Jack Nicklaus told the Washington Post, recently. "It's why I gave up golf.""

Note that the consequence for Tiger Woods was a knee operation (reconstruction surgery). As written by Beth Axtell at Arthritis Today in: "Is Tiger Woods Setting Himself up for Osteoarthritis? Will Tiger Woods' knee surgery spur osteoarthritis in the future?":

"Shortly after winning the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods announced he was sitting out the rest of the PGA tour to have ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee."
LiveScience in The Most Dangerous Sports in America reports that nearly 50,000 people had to be treated in emergency rooms in the USA in 2006 for golf-related injuries and writes further concerning the incidence of back pain among golfers:

""We found deficits in physical characteristics in the golfers with a history of LBP compared to the non-LBP group," reported Yung-Shen Tsai, the study's leader. "These differences may hinder dissipation of the tremendous spinal forces and movements generated by the golf swing over time and limit trunk rotation during the backswing. These conditions may lead to lower back muscle strain, ligament sprain or disc degeneration."" [emphasis added]
That the people writing or commenting sports appear to be unaware of the physical realities of the game of golf is absolutely astonishing to say the least .

Moreover, the Guardian's skewed idea that other sports do more for mutual understanding between peoples on our planet than Golf has little bearing in fact:

As written at the New York Times:

"Golf Diplomacy: Speak Softly and Carry a 9-Iron
"In Newsweek, Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, offers a "fairway theory" for gauging friendliness toward the United States. Vietnam, for years a bitter foe of the United States, is now a friend. The clearest evidence of how far things have changed may be the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, a route that connects more than a half-dozen luxury golf courses and resorts. (Like its namesake, the golf trail runs north-south, but presumably the resemblance ends there.) On the other hand, Venezuela, led by the ever-hostile Hugo Chávez, has closed several golf courses and is threatening to shut down others. Chávez recently delivered a tirade against golf on national television, deriding it as “bourgeois,” an outlook consistent with his repressive policies, which are driving many middle-class Venezuelans to leave the country. Or take the two Koreas: the closed North is reportedly home to just three courses, while democratic South Korea, a U.S. ally, boasts no fewer than 234."
The topper is this one, and we quote from the Guardian SportBlog posting:
"Golf is a predatory and entirely commercial, highly skilled individual pursuit. But it chafes against the Olympic ideal of inclusivity – as do many other Olympic sports – and of bridge-building and of also really needing the Olympics, things without which the Olympics start to look oddly pointless."
Bridge-building? Did the people at the Guardian ever hear of the Ryder Cup?

Inclusivity? The National Golf Foundation has issued figures that there are 26.2 million golfers in the United States and 36.7 million American golf participants, i.e. persons who have played a round of golf or visited a golf practice facility. How many other Olympic sports have anything near to that kind of inclusivity??? What is the TOTAL of regular sports activists in the USA for all other sports, after golf is subtracted?

In the UK, about 4 million people play golf. That compares to only 10 million sports club members in all of the UK for all other sports. Inclusivity? Surely the Guardian jests. How many people play rugby in the UK or in the USA where there are only 10,000 clubs. A few hundred thousand. Inclusivity?

How many Olympic medals are given for rowing? and how few people in any country row? You have to have a boat. How many medals are given for swimming? To kids who have no swimming pool in their back yard. Inclusivity?

And to talk about pristine amateur sports, one should be aware that in countries like China:

"Different from the private funding regime in sports in the West, in China the State pays for all of the training of athletes and gives them a living allowance."

I don't quite understand how that makes their Olympic participants pristine amateurs.

To pick on golf when the entire amateur sports world is one of the biggest commercial businesses in the world is just a bunch of hokum.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Secret to Playing Golf : Let God Play the Round : Lower Your Handicap by Thinking LESS : Study Shows Over-Concentration has Negative Results

Leave it to the ladies. Hat tip to Martha :-) for alerting me to this topic. Thank you!

We all have heard the well-meaning word that people address to us to help us perform better in school, work and play: "Concentrate!"

But that particular word may in fact well be absolutely the wrong advice, causing potentially more harm than good and leading to an increased mental block that hinders our performance.

Kate Devlin has an article at the Telegraph published earlier this golf season titled Lack of concentration "secret to playing golf", in which she reports on a study suggesting that concentration on golf technique while golfing is the worst thing that a player can do.

The research was conducted in University College, Dublin, by John Toner, who, in our opinion - if our golf handicap in fact does drop because of our implementation of his system of unthinking - is our candidate for the next Nobel Prize. After all, what rare things in life are more important than reducing one's handicap?

Indeed, Toner's Irish work may give us an insight into the famous phrase "the luck of the Irish" by suggesting that luck may inhere in a more relaxed and carefree approach to the things that we do in earnest, relying on our faith that we have learned our lessons well in training and should now simply play the game once we are on the golf course, without focusing unduly on our golf technique, whether swinging or putting.

Our own explanation for this phenomenon is grounded in some basic knowledge we picked up in high school science classes many years ago. The stress of over-concentration restricts natural flow. Relaxation opens the avenues of the extrapyramidal system. Put your game on auto-pilot.

Human movement is guided by two aspects of our brain, something called the pyramidal system (voluntarily controlled movement) and the extra-pyramidal system (automatically controlled movement). We use the extra-pyramidal system, for example, when we ride a bicycle (after we have learned how to do it). We do not think "ride a bike". Rather, our extra-pyramidal system, once it has learned to do so, knows how to ride a bike and automatically takes over this activity, leaving our brain free to do other things while we are gliding down the bike path.

GOLF is the same. If you play golf like you ride a bike - this is the essence of Toner's advice - your handicap will drop, presuming of course that you spend enough time with your golf pro on the practice range to tweak your swing and chipping and putting stroke into top form.

After that, as the religious person might say, let God play the round for you.

P.S.
This may be Tiger's secret. HE isn't playing better than the rest of the field, it's the man who is playing FOR HIM. He just has more of his game on auto-pilot. I say this not myself being a particularly devout person, but I understand the analogy to religious ideas.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Add Five Years to Your Life : Play Golf : Swedish Medical Study Shows Golfers Live Longer : The Lower Your Handicap the Better : It's the Game !

Want to live up to five years longer?

Get out to your local golf course more often and play the game!

According to a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, data from 300,000 Swedish golfers shows that the death rate for golfers is 40% lower than for non-golfers, regardless of their socioeconomic status, which equates to an increased life expectancy of five years. In fact, the better your handicap, the longer you live. The reason for this is probably that better golfers walk more, i.e. play more rounds of golf, and are out in the fresh air longer.


Image linked from redOrbit.com

One of the authors of the study, Professor Anders Ahlbom is quoted at redOrbit.com:
"A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is known to be good for the health," he says. "People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help.... Maintaining a low handicap involves playing a lot, so this supports the idea that it is largely the game itself that is good for the health."
Of course, the GolfPundit plays golf:

The GolfPundit at age 62 was the Men's Champion
at his golf club. Here, as an exception, I put in a
plug for the clubs I use, which anyone can afford.
GigaGolf.com is where my clubs were made. Try it.

GigaGolf, Inc.

Hat tip to Martha and also to redOrbit.com for drawing my attention to the medical study.

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