Today’s girls are smashing the myth that golf stands for Gentleman’s Only Ladies Forbidden.

According to the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the United States Golf Association (USGA), girls under 18 are the fastest-growing segment of the golfing population.

Girls Golf, a non-profit foundation, was created to educate, engage, empower, and enrich girls who are between the ages of 6 and 17 while providing exercise and teaching them how to play golf in an all-girl environment. In 2010, 4,500 girls were enrolled in Girls Golf instructional programs. In 2016, the number swung to 60,000 participants playing in 380 locations across the United States.

One reason for the exponential growth is the LPGA’s realization that the key to girls enjoying the sport is the opportunity to play the game with friends. Girls Golf has become a social event, as girls learn, play and compete against their other girls. With the strong support of the LPGA and the USGA, girls are no longer intimidated by the sport of golf.

Girls interested in taking part in a Girls Golf program in the Bone & Joint service area should contact Katie Kreuser, site director, at Sentry World Golf Course in Stevens Point.

Does your daughter, granddaughter or niece want to play golf?

If so, the Girls Golf program may be just the place for her to learn.

Girls Golf offers gender-specific instruction, programs and activities for girls. When girls first get involved with the program, positive, female role models mentor them. As the girls learn the game of golf and develop their skills, they become mentors, themselves. Along with proper golf instruction, girls receive education about fitness and nutrition to promote an active and healthy lifestyle for a lifetime.

To keep the girls engaged and interested in the sport, the program includes golf lessons, skill-building games and socialization to offer girls an enjoyable experience. Many who would normally abandon the sport in the later teen years, continue to play.

Girls Golf is not the only venue where girls can learn to play. Many high schools in central Wisconsin offer Girl’s Golf programs as part of the fall athletic lineup.

Golf injuries are frequent in young players

Most golf injuries are single, traumatic events that occur when a golfer swings and hits a rock, stump or divot with full force. The power of the movement can cause stress and strain on the muscles, ligaments and joints involved in the swing.

Though it looks easy, golf demands twisting and turning that can cause overuse injuries at any age. A proper swing includes a backswing, a downswing, an accelerator or ball strike, and a solid follow-through. To execute the swing properly, players must engage a line of muscles from their neck to their feet as their bodies twist and rotate with force.

Young players are more susceptible to overuse injuries.

According to Golf Digest, 30,047 people visited the emergency room with golf-related injuries in 2014.

Many of these injuries were strains, sprains or overuse injuries. Young players, who typically have poor conditioning and lack the proper form to align their swing, are at the highest risk for these types of injuries. The most common injury is tendonitis (inflamed tendons) and bursitis that occurs in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees. Players may also be at risk for:

  • Back injury due to the rotational stress on the spine
  • Wrist injuries caused by improper grips or strikes
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Knee pain caused by pressure as the hip rotates during a swing
  • Rotator cuff tears

Hips are also vulnerable to injury during golf. The rotation and twisting needed to play places stress on the hips. The hip muscles must abduct, flex and extend during the process of hitting the ball. Without strong muscular support, tears in the hip ligaments can occur.

A golf-specific training program is essential to strengthen supporting muscles and prevent injuries.

Mobility plus stability equals prevention

To avoid injury, golfers should wear shoes that fit properly, use the right-sized clubs, and warm-up for at least 10 minutes before hitting the green.

As part of a well-rounded conditioning program, young girls who golf should add exercises to their workout routine to help prevent golfing injuries. Girls who develop strong, fluid movements will feel more in control of their bodies. Some of the most common movements that build strength, speed and stamina for the golfer include:

  • Incline push-ups for upper body strength and a stabilized core to help acceleration
  • Pistol squats to increase balance and stability during weight transfers
  • Single-leg deadlifts to strengthen hip and core muscles and provide more power in the downstroke
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Bridges
  • Planks
  • Lying twists
  • Superwoman pose (aka Superman pose)

Completing several sets of these exercises each week can help a young woman develop a higher level of mobility, stability and flexibility. Her golf swing demands power and range of motion to drive the ball down the fairway.

Keeping golf fun and injury free will keep the sport growing as more young women join in the game. The key is to let them play often without demanding technical perfection too soon. After all, the goal is to give girls the enjoyment of the game that will last them a lifetime.