Golf Gets Health-Conscious

so-amazon1Part of golf’s traditional appeal has been that you don’t have to be in great physical condition to play it. And while the game’s culture has been eager to embrace certain aspects of modernity — sophisticated motion-capture technology and GPS capabilities, for example — it has until recently remained somewhat behind the curve when it comes to the relationship between pure physicality and performance.

It sometimes seems like we’re trying to make up for lost time. The annual PGA Merchandise Show now features an entire pavilion devoted exclusively to golf-specific training. Healthy, nutritious foods are joining hot dogs, burgers, and beer at golf halfway houses.

Indeed, it’s impossible to enumerate all the products and services aimed at improving the health of the golfing populace, but three that crossed this reporter’s desk epitomize the trend.

swingOIL. I know, it’s been around forever in the form of alcohol. This is different. A liquid “dietary supplement for golf” made by a Newport, Rhode Island outfit called Back Nine Beverages, its tagline is “Get Loose. Swing Smooth.” Its seven key ingredients include glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric to combat inflammation; ginseng extract for greater focus; rhodiola rosea extract for stress relief, and so forth.

As the packaging acknowledges, swingOIL is a supplement and therefore not subject to FDA regulation, so calibrating its effectiveness is slippery, though several pros endorse it. (Can’t resist: I parred the 600-yard par 5 on my home course — a real rarity — just after downing a dose of the stuff.) But it’s tasty and comes in lemon-lime, orange, and strawberry-banana. The three-ounce portion is a convenient fit for your golf bag and can be frozen prior to your trip to the course or practice range.

1st and 10th Tee energy and nutrition bars. Made and distributed by 1stTeePlus10thTeePlus-RetailDisplayRack-FourCartons-CMYKSCNS Sports Foods, of Upland, California, one of the early entrants in the golf-nutrition market, it introduced the first iterations of the bars in 2001. This year, they added the so-called Plus+ versions to the existing line, including gluten free options, bringing the total to seven: 1st Tee Plus+ Oatmeal Raisin Bar, 1st Tee Plus+ Chocolate Peanut Bar, 1st Tee Dark Chocolate Chip Trail Mix Bars, 1st Tee Honey Almond Snack bar, 10th Tee Plus+ Peanut Honey Bar, 10th Tee Plus+ Chocolate Peanut Caramel Bar, and 10th Tee Cranberry Trail Mix Bar.

As with swingOIL, measuring the benefits of 1st and 10 Tee bars is an inexact science. But they taste great and their discreet size, 1.6 ounces, simply has to be better for you and your game than a Chicago-style hot dog (piled with everything) and a 20-ounce Coke. The company also donates 15 cents from the sale of each bar to The First Tee.

Oska Pulse. Manufactured by Vista, California-based Oska Wellness, Inc., this device is a clever wearable adaptation of the electronic stimulation long IMG_0145used by physical therapists to treat chronic pain, which typically required attaching electrodes and proximity to a power source. Resembling an oversized computer mouse, Oska Pulse comes with a strap to affix it to a knee, back, shoulder, elbow, basically anywhere it hurts. Also unlike traditional electronic stimulation, the unit’s Pulsed Electromagnetic Field produces no physical sensation while doing its work and can be worn over or under clothing.

Therapy “sessions” with the Oska Pulse last 30 minutes, and the company’s website recommends different treatment periods, depending on the severity of the user’s injuries. So I can’t yet speak to the long-term benefits, but it’s already brought relief to a balky shoulder. It’s ready to use right from the box, and the battery is easily recharged using a USB port.

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