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A fit way to stay fit for golf?
During their off-season professional athletes are rewarded with an opportunity to take some time off from busy schedules, reflect on their accomplishments, and fill their intestinal cavities with plenty of foods that are 'off limits' during the regular season.

Interestingly, it is the athletes who continue to practice their skills in the off-season, as opposed to those who put on aprons and, say, eat sheep entrails all day, who seem to further their careers. Golfers - especially those living in colder climates, can learn from this.

Due to Canadian winters having a somewhat satanic nature, people living in the Great White North are forced to abandon the golf courses and take refuge in their igloos or frozen mud huts. It is in these dwellings where evil will battle righteousness. The golfer who chooses to learn will ultimately be ready to emerge from his hollow and beat the ever-loving corruption out of his opponents when spring finally arrives.

While Scottish winters may not be quite as extreme as the arctic fury which envelopes Canada for half of the calendar year, the freezing winds, ice storms, and torrential rains common in 'Haggis land' are usually enough to get people (who have brains) to flee the links and barricade themselves within the confines of their flooded flats. It is here where they will be faced with dilemmas such as which kilt to wear, how many meat pies they will eat during the day, and where they will find their next sheep to gut. They will also have an opportunity to evaluate their golf games and explore ways to improve at this most beloved sport.

The next obvious question then - considering that the ground is frozen 50 feet deep and polar bears are lurking around every corner (if you live in Canada) and wearing ski pants under your kilt is a definite fashion faux pas (if you live in Scotland) - is how are we supposed to learn better golf or at least maintain our skill level in these unbecoming environments? As you'll soon see, there are ways.

Way 1 - Turn your lardage into yardage
We all know that eating too many seals and caribou (Canada) or whisky cakes and sheep stomachs (Scotland - are you people nuts?) in the off-season can expand the after dinner roll(s). However, most of us would rather stick our lips onto a frozen signpole than pass up on that second pail of whale blubber (Canada) or boiled liver (Scotland). The key to coming out of hibernation and wielding your clubs as if you never took a break requires one to work in harmony with the excess poundage. You can turn your lardage into yardage. The best technique for doing this obligates you to spend many hours in front of the mirror examining and getting comfortable with your rounditude. It is only then that you will truly be one with your body, thereby granting you the mental fortitude to be one with the ball.

Way 2 - Go ice fishing
Ice fishing is a close relative of golfing. Similar attitudes, grips, and liver conditioning fundamentals are paramount in both activities. Catching a six-pounder warrants a celebratory spectacle that corresponds to making a birdie. Also, an interlocking grip on the fishing pole has been known to protect the fingers from frostbite. And finally, fermented beverages are known to be an integral component of each sport. Go ice fishing and reap the rewards of a great sport that so wonderfully parallels the game of golf.

Way 3 - Get plenty of rest
Sauntering over wind-battered dunes while carrying a full set of niblicks, a fifth of Johnny Walker's finest, and a couple of rings of blood sausage is a strenuous endeavor that requires plenty of stamina. For most of life's issues, getting plenty of rest is generally a good rebuttal. Grab a bag of nachos, a hot rum toddy, the remote control, and a warm blanket and spend plenty of time between the loving 'arms' of your sofa. You'll need the energy once golf season arrives.

Way 4 - Use your golf clubs for household chores
When a snowbound or flooded out golfer picks up his clubs for the first time in spring a horrific feeling can come over him. The clubs can feel foreign. They are not his friends and they treat him that way. Stay friends with your clubs all winter. Use your 3-iron to clean out your cat's litter box. Use your 6-iron to swipe away mouldy potato chips on the rug. Use your 9-iron to turn the TV on and off. Use your wedge to open and close the lid on your toilet. Whatever you do, don't reject your clubs or they'll reject you.

Take a righteous approach this winter and dedicate yourself to improving your game. When the snow melts, and your house with it (Canada), and when the flood waters recede from underneath your bed (Scotland), it is a glorious opportunity for you to showcase your beautiful physique and your athletic prowess. Just make sure you clean your clubs first.

Andrew Penner is a golf pro in Canada who wrote this from a horizontal position, picking out each letter on his keyboard with the help of a ball retriever (the 'club' he uses most often).

©    10 - DECEMBER 2002

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