We know what you’re thinking – golf injuries? The ball isn’t moving; you are standing still, and no one is playing defense. How can you get injured? It’s not like we are talking about football or basketball. All of that may be true, but injuries happen on the course all the time.
In order to prevent these injuries, we first need to identify how they happen – what types of things lead to golf injuries? We have identified 4 main categories:
Golf Course Hazards – we are not talking about lakes, creeks, or swamps that might hurt your score – we are talking about things on the course that can cause you harm.
Safety Breakdowns – golf balls are hard and are hit at speeds of more than 125 mph. Many amateur golfers swing their clubs at over 100 mph. Just a couple of examples of the danger that can exist on the course if you aren’t paying attention.
Failure to Prepare Your Body – golf is a physical activity that requires muscles from your feet to your neck. If you are not prepared for the exertion, several different parts of your body can be injured.
Injuries While Playing the Game – you are playing a sport outdoors and swinging a club with power – several things can go wrong while you attempt to shoot a low score.
Sadly, these types of golf injuries happen everyday at courses across the country. Let’s take a closer look at each type and determine the best way to avoid them. You play golf to relax, the last thing you want is to come home in pain!
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Golf Course Hazards
Who doesn’t love being on the course on a sunny afternoon? We have written before about the advantages of exercising outside. Unfortunately, many golfers make the mistake of forgetting about the risks of too much sun exposure. Nothing ruins a great round like a bad sunburn, and we all need to be aware about the long-term risks of the sun’s harmful UV rays. The good news – this hazard is fairly easy to avoid. Always wear sunblock and a hat to protect your face. We recommend some sunscreen spray for your golf bag, so you can easily reapply during your round without getting your hands greasy.
The sun is the most common hazard, but watch out for critters as well. Snakes, yellow jackets, fire ants, and depending on where you live, alligators. Trust us, you don’t want to spend time with these animals on the course. Pretty simple to avoid. Just be smart where you go looking for that offline shot. When in doubt, leave the ball in the woods or swamp. It’s not worth testing your skills as a snake charmer.
The final golf course hazard is simply the terrain. It sounds simple, but you are walking up and down hills and on slick surfaces. If you slip while carrying your golf bag it is quite easy to end up with a broken bone. Also, watch out for small depressions in the fairway or rough. Far too many golfers have sprained or even broken an ankle by accidentally stepping in a small hole on the course. The key here – pay attention to where you step.
On the surface golf seems safe, but golfers are injured all the time in odd and scary ways. Always make sure you are the proper distance from other players making swings. Getting hit by a club that is being swung at 100mph can do real damage. No one wants to end up in the ER because they got too close to your buddy’s backswing.
Don’t forget about the golf ball. Have you ever been hit by a shot? It is quite painful. Two important rules to avoid this outcome. First, always stand behind the other players in your group – we know you trust them to hit a good shot, but even PGA tour professionals occasionally hit a wild one. If for some reason you do have to walk ahead, always pay attention when others are hitting. Second, respect other players on the course. If you or someone in your group hits a ball towards someone on a different hole or in front of you, always scream “FORE.” This gives them the chance to cover up and protect themselves before the ball arrives.
The last safety situation to keep in mind is the golf cart you rent. Golf carts are fun, right? Hundreds of golfers get injured every year in golf carts because they don’t operate them correctly. Be careful when going down steep hills or sharp curves. Golf carts can flip quite easily, and you don’t want to be caught under one. Pay attention when crossing bridges and never ride standing on the back. Do you really want to go back to the pro shop and try to explain why your cart is stuck in the creek or lake? Better yet, ditch the cart and walk the course!
Failure to Prepare Your Body
Not as extreme as running a marathon, but golf is a physical activity. If you don’t get your body ready, you can end up with several different types of injuries. Did you know that you can participate in a fitness and strength program specifically designed to help golfers play better and avoid injuries? The most popular is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute). You can find a certified instructor who will assess your physical condition and design a program to make you a stronger golfer.
Another critical component to your pre-round process needs to be stretching. The golf swing puts strain on your lower back and if you haven’t properly loosened up this area, you can suffer strains or pulls. You never want to leave the course limping or not be able to finish your round because you didn’t properly stretch. We recommend at least 15 minutes of stretching focused on your upper leg muscles, your back, and your shoulders.
Now we get to the part of the body that is near and dear to our heart. Golfer foot maintenance is critical to your experience. Your feet are more important to your swing than you realize, and you shouldn’t leave the course with sore feet. Make sure you have high quality shoes that properly fit your feet. Do you still leave the course with tired feet? A custom insole could improve your experience and your scores. Check out this article we wrote to learn more about the importance of foot health to your golf game.
Injuries While Playing the Game
Ok – you are aware of potential hazards, follow safety protocols, and properly prepare you body for your round – you should be fine, right? Well, there are few more things you need to be aware of while you play.
First, always check the lie of your golf ball, especially when you missed the fairway. Look for rocks or roots. Both have caused golfers pain. The rules of golf allow you to move loose impediments, so clean those rocks away before you hit your shot. A root can stop your club at impact and this plus the force of your downswing can cause wrist injuries. Just be careful with what is near your ball.
Second, be aware of weather conditions. Lightning and wind can be very dangerous on the course. If you can hear thunder you should return to your car and wait for it to pass. The challenge with wind can be tree limbs falling, so just pay attention to the amount it is blowing. Playing in wind is fine unless it gets extreme.
Finally, pay attention to your body as you play. If you tweak something you could make it worse if you try to “tough it out” and finish your round. This is especially true with your back. We would recommend that if you tweak your back during a round, you might want to call it a day before it becomes a more serious injury. The other common injury for a golfer is known as “golfer elbow”. The best thing for golfer elbow is rest.
Conclusion: How to Avoid Golf Injuries
Not trying to scare you – golf is a great way to compete and get some exercise. Compared to other sports, golf is very safe for players of all ages. It is truly an activity that you can enjoy for a lifetime. It is quite simple – golf injuries do happen, but for the most part can be easily avoided. Enjoy your next round. Play well!