Thursday, August 24, 2006

World’s Top Five Golf Courses

By Tom Takihi

Wonder where the world’s richest, famous, and avid golfers tee off? In a sport where the playing field is not as riged or as restricted as other forms of sport, the outdoor can make the difference. Where nature is not only the backdrop but the playing field itself, how this sport is played is what makes golf a very relaxing, liberating, and striking experience.

Glimpse into these greens hailed as the world’s five top golf courses, as compiled by Golf Magazine. Golfer or not, you will be enthralled and intrigued how these ultra expansive natural settings that seemingly stretch out to the sky in interesting meandering patterns and heights can be so ultra secluded from the public eye.

Pine Valley Golf Club

Located in Pine Valley, New Jersey USA, the Pine Valley Golf Club hits the number one spot. The golf course is reported to take up vast acres of greeneries, so vast that each golfer would feel a sense of isolation, not knowing that other golfers playing in other sections of the fairways feel the same.

Interestingly, Pine Valley is not new in receiving prestige and recognition in the sports world of golf. Records indicate this gold course was already at the number three spot in 1939 in a ranking by Golf Club atlas. In Golf Magazine’s biennial rankings, it has remained at the top since 1991.

But Pine Valley does not only boast of quantity in acres but the quality of the course as well. In fact, it is also considered to be one of the toughest courses. If you crave for challenge, privacy, and ultimate golfing experience, go Pine Valley.

Cypress Point Club

Cypress Point, the number two choice, is the most beautiful course. Located in Pebble Beach, California USA, it is positioned in a piece of land that meets the blue waters of the beach.

This 18-hole golf course has bunkers that have been strategically and fascinatingly built such that there is a seamless connection between what’s natural and man-made. Hole No. 16, specifically, continues to captivate golf lovers, having been acclaimed as the ultimate one-shotter in existence.

St. Andrews Golf Club

The world’s number three golf course located in St. Andrews Fife, Scotland is the number in Europe, and the oldest in the world. Europe’s quaint setting, which gives off a more relaxed and laidback ambiance so compatible with the nature of this sport, makes this region truly a golfer’s paradise.

The world first experienced golf in Scotland, right here in St. Andrews, as early as the 12th century. It received a royal patronage in 1854. Now, it is considered as the world’s oldest surviving “royal” golf club.

St. Andrews is not really that striking in appearance to new golfers. Its appeal grows as you familiarize yourself with its landscapes, reinforcing the fact that knowledge of course management is a key in golf strategy games.

Augusta National Golf Club

The number four is located in Augusta, Georgia USA. Each of Augusta’s 18 holes has been named after a flower that has come to be associated with it. During grand tournaments, these flowers are in full bloom thereby creating a colorful and festive natural backdrop as you begin those back swings.

But more importantly, Augusta has been characterized with broad fairways, exciting elevation changes, and slick greens that will pose real challenge to skilled golfers.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

Golf course number five is located in Southhampton, New York USA. It was originally a 12-hole course remodeled into 18-hole layout in 1895. Its impressive layout features undulating greens and bunkers backdropped with tree canopies, shrubs as well as ponds.

This peek into the world’s best five can be overwhelming. A walk into their greens, a swing into their air, and a golf game follow-through through their fairways, bunkers, and other intriguing nooks and spots will definitely sum up into a par that, in terms of experience, is victory itself.

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Tom Takihi is the proud owner of the Discover Network. For more information on this topic, please visit the dedicated portal website.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

How Golfers Can Cope With Back Pain

By: Ron Strand

Many golfers experience back pain. The golf swing is an unnatural motion that can cause some unusual stresses. In some cases, golf does not necessarily cause the pain, but a golf swing can aggravate old injuries and escalate stiffness into painful spasms.

I have rarely made it through a season without experiencing at least one bout of back pain from golf. There have been times it has been so severe that I thought I may have to give up the sport. But over time, I have found a few things that help me golf pain free and, if I do experience some pain, speed recovery. Of course these tips are meant for people experiencing pain from the normal stresses and strains that come from participation in sport and are not meant for people who have injuries or are recovering from chronic conditions.

1. Exercise

A couple of years ago I ran across a regimen developed by Dr. Chico Caldwell, a professor at the University of Iowa. This series of exercises was not developed for golf specifically, but is an overall strength and flexibility program. Even so, I have found it to be extremely beneficial for avoiding back pain by keeping abdomen and back muscles toned. The whole series of exercises takes about an hour. Twice a week seems to be enough frequency to maintain muscle tone. No equipment is necessary.

2. Pre-game Warm-up

I personally don't believe stretching cold muscles does much good. It is necessary to get cold muscles warmed up and the only way to do this is movement. Take a club and swing it like a baseball bat back and forth until you are puffing a bit, then take some easy practice swings, then go through your stretching routine.

3. Take It Easy on the Driving Range

I is always tempting to reach for the driver because you know that that all important drive on the first tee is coming up in a few minutes. But you will like do better if you warm up by hitting some easy shots with your six iron.

4. Walk

It may seem counter intuitive, but I have fewer problems with my back when I am walking the course than when I am using a cart. If you must use a cart, because of course or tournament rules, make sure you stretch when you get out and walk around as much as possible.

5. Rest

Very often I will not notice any pain during a game but will experience it the next day when I am riding my bike or working in the garden. Taking it easy between games will decrease onset of back pain. If you must do some lifting, use additional caution after a round of golf.

By paying attention to these things, you should be able to play without gulping handfuls of ibuprofen. But of course, this is just some common sense advice from one player to another and is not a substitute for professional help. If you do experience ongoing pain, consult a professional.

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Ron Strand is a college instructor, consultant and avid golfer.

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