We use this muscle to run, jump and other fast movements, injuries of the calf are therefore a commonality in sports such as running, football and tennis. Here we look at what we can do to prevent it…
The gastrocnemius muscle is a muscle located on the back portion of the lower leg, being one of the two major muscles that make up the calf.
The other major calf muscle, the soleus muscle, is a flat muscle that lies underneath the gastrocnemius. Both the gastrocnemius and the soleus run the entire length of the lower leg, connecting behind the knee and at the heel. A third muscle, the plantaris muscle, extends two-to-four inches down from the knee and lies between the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
Sudden change in direction when running can cause the muscle to overstretch and lead to a tear, especially when flexing the ankle and extending the knee at the same.
Some of the symptoms which often occur when straining the muscle can include…
Some of the most effective ways to treat strains include…
To help prevent strain or injury, the standing calf stretch is one of the simplest and more durable calf stretches which can help improve muscle elasticity…
The downward dog calf stretch is slightly more challenging but equally as effective at reducing the likelihood of strain/injury and also for providing improved muscle elasticity…
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Soil temperatures have generally been lingering below 4 Celsius during the mornings but have been dipping even lower on the frosty mornings so growth had been subdued until now. Rainfall is sitting at around 25mm for the month which is a little below average for halfway through April.
Greens height-of-cut is currently 5mm which, again, is playing to the advantage of the bentgrass on the surfaces but as we see a rise in temperatures we will tighten these heights down towards our season’s height of 4mm which times perfectly with what I will run through below.
Longer days and strong daylight is increasing which is bringing the poa into seed, the dreaded season. This period is generally the most difficult part of the year to provide a smooth surface on the greens. The combination of seed heads and differing growth rates creates plenty of variation in the surface and hence affects ball-roll the most. We will be using a variety of methods to manage these conditions and using them in combination will provide a degree of remedy.
We generally see this seed-head period at its peak for about 6 weeks, after which seed production declines and falls back to regular growth habits. What we are seeing with an increase in bentgrass is that colonies of poa are becoming more isolated and are visible as distinctive patches rather than an wide coverage. By reducing the poa content in our surfaces we are reducing the impact that this season has on how our greens roll.
Our summer conditions last year had quite a severe impact on turf health in some areas, as temperatures have been rising over the last few weeks we have embarked on a programme of renovation to assist in the regeneration of these areas. Through the winter and early spring we were very busy with aeration and soil structure improvement which set up conditions suitable to start introducing seed.
In greenkeeping lingo it’s called potting, we aerate shallow holes and brush seed into the holes. The idea is to provide just enough space around the seedling to give it a chance to establish before the competition comes from the surrounding grass plants.
You will see our work on fairways, greens complexes and extensively on tees over the coming days.
If you can train your lead arm to extend before folding properly through the ball, you can develop more power and a better swing path. Here, I’ll explain the causes of the chicken wing before giving you two simple drills to train a more effective movement pattern.
The most obvious sign of the chicken-wing is the lead arm buckling through impact, the elbow collapsing and starting to point upwards. Secondary traits include a cupping of the lead wrist and an excessively lofted and open clubface, which sees you hit weak, high shots to the right (right-handers).
Rotten to the core
The chicken wing rears its ugly head when your core fails to contribute to the delivery of the club. Ideally the lower body should be initiating the downswing and transferring speed to the upper body. If you’re failing to do that, you can easily end up trying to generate power with your hands and arms – a weak, side-on hit that encourages the lead arm to break down.
While some simple technical refocusing can often cure the chicken-wing, there are two physical issues that can hinder your progress. The first is a reluctance to drive your swing through a dynamic rotation of the core; the second is a limitation in being able to externally rotate the lead shoulder. Our two drills will address both.
Ideally, we want your lead arm to be extended through impact. This extension is how you deliver maximum speed to the ball. Then, as the forearms begin to release and rotate, the elbow responds by starting to fold downwards. To get closer to this ideal release we need to wake up your core, and encourage the correct lead shoulder rotation.
The object of this exercise is to give you a better feel and understanding for what the lead arm needs to be doing during the throughswing. Begin by gripping a short iron in your lead hand only, down towards the bottom of the grip. Make a half-backswing before swinging through. Work on finding this position, the lead arm extended and the toe of the club facing the sky as the shaft swings through horizontal.
Elbow points down
From here, and as you continue the throughswing, work on the sensation of the trail elbow folding down towards your hip, not upward. This move will feel much more rotational to you. As you train it you will also encourage your lead shoulder to rotate externally, improving its mobility and your ability to make a better upper-body rotation through the impact zone.
Find a light ball – a football is ideal – and take your golf stance, holding the ball between your palms. All you have to do here is throw the ball forwards, either to a friend or against a wall. Swing your arms to a horizontal position both back and through.
After just a few throws you will feel how this throwing motion not only engages your core; it also promotes the forearm rotation that allows your lead elbow to fold downward on the way through. Throw the ball 10 times before taking a club and repeating this more rotational back-through move.
Thankfully, we had no major tree damage during these windy periods and the wind has done a fantastic job at drying out the ground surface once rainfall has moved through. `
From following the weather, we have had 46mm of evaporation so far this calendar year which I would consider to be quite high – we can blame sunny February for that! March is shaping up much like February with roughly 50mm having fallen at the halfway point of the month. February ended with 52mm having fallen.
The greens have recovered very well from the renovation work undertaken at the end of February. Overnight temperatures have been mild with few touches of frost and as I discussed last month, our bentgrass populations are actively growing and taking advantage of the early season.
Once the wind eases, we will be applying another feed of basic nutrition and soil conditioning to further promote this growth.
Focus will be on improving the approaches this season and through a dedicated topdressing programme, intensified aeration and an alteration in how we fertilise we are aiming for an increase in density of the turf plus an increase in the stress tolerance of these areas particularly through the peak of summer.
The fertility programme will follow the same idea as greens with the base of inputs being organic products including seaweed and compost type products that will increase soil health and aid plant root development. Topdressing will be more frequent although shifting to a little and often regime will impact little on golf playability.
Long rough management through grazing has been giving us fantastic results over the last two winters with a noticeable reduction if grass density and an increase in flower biodiversity being the result that we were looking for.
The last few areas for attention have been attended to by harrowing which rakes the long areas pulling out all excess vegetation and contributing to a reduction in the soil fertility. By reducing soil fertility we are creating a habitat that the grass species that are most desirable for us do best in, namely fescue, bent and vernal in addition to the range of wildflowers.
Additionally, as we reduce irrigation inputs we reduce soil moisture which again creates a habitat which best suits the species that are most desirable for our site. We will be carrying on with this programme of grazing at the end of the season with a grazing plan already pencilled in with our shepherd partners.
Thanks for your time reading and as ever don’t hesitate to collar me and ask about anything that may be on your mind regarding the golf course.
However, even on an activity as short and apparently effortless as putting, it can have an effect. Here, we look at how a physical limitation can lead to an issue with swaying on putts – a problem that causes an erratic delivery of the blade and inconsistency on the greens.
You’ll also learn two drills to help you remain stable throughout the stroke. Work on them and your line and length will both benefit.
The basic putting action is essentially a tiny golf swing; you rotate back, you rotate through. Even with such a short action as this, we need some separation of the upper and lower body to allow the shoulders and chest to rotate while the legs and pelvis remain stable.
The ability to move your shoulders independently of your hips and pelvis is known as ‘dissociation’. We are all different in how much we are able to achieve this, but putting only demands a small amount of it. Almost every golfer has enough mobility to retain a locked lower half while gently rocking the shoulders, but in many cases that ability needs to be woken up.
If you are not rotating your upper body independently of the lower body, you will feel your hips and knees turn with the shoulders. This can cost you your action balance and stability, making it much harder for you to find your chosen path, face and attack angle at impact
Challenge your stability to improve it.
To improve your ability to maintain a solid base while you putt, we need to make it harder for your lower body to hold its position as you rotate back and through. Here are two easy ways to do just that…
Take your putter and place its shaft across your chest, crisscrossing your arms to hold it in place. Stand generally upright, balance on your lead leg with your trail leg behind your lead calf.
Now make your upper body backstroke rotation. You can only stay balanced if your lower body holds its position.
Now repeat the same trick on the followthrough. Turn your chest through to the finish of the ‘stroke’.
Again, this challenges your lower half to retain its position while you turn. Rotate back and forth like this five times, before switching to the other leg and repeating the drill.
For this drill, you’ll ideally use a foam swimming noodle – a useful prop for many drills. But if you don’t have one you can roll up your bag towel. Whatever you use, it should be high enough that you can’t quite set both toes and heels on the ground when you stand on it. Place the noodle/towel under the middle of your feet. Start by letting your weight fall on to your heels. Hit 10 putts from here.
Now flip forward until your weight is on your toes. Again, hit 10 putts. Keep your focus on your balance; from these awkward stances, your lower body has to work harder to maintain it. After hitting putts like this, go back to your regular stance; you will feel how the muscles of your lower half, now primed to hold you in position, are able to retain position and stability as you move the putter back and through.
This May, Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort is turning 10! To celebrate this landmark achievement, we’re putting on a Summer Ball spectacular like-no-other…
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This month, we wanted to shine some light on this muscle as many of us experience pain and discomfort and most of the time we simply disregard it or ignore it.
Located in the base of your skull and running up and behind your ears, the sternocleidomastoid muscle is responsible for a number of movements within our necks. These movements include:
This muscle also aids chewing, swallowing and essentially allows us to eats effortlessly. Its also enables your head to remain stable should you tilt it backwards.
Some of the many reasons why tightness or tension can build up is often due to the following…
If you have trouble doing some of the below, you could probably benefit from paying attention to this muscle…
There are a number of stretches which you can do to avoid and reduce some of these pain symptoms.
In the image, one of our PT’s, Dan, is demonstrating one of the most common and straight forward stretches known as ‘neck rotations’. All you have to do is gently lean your head to one side whilst keeping your shoulders facing forward and apply a light pressure onto the sky-facing side of your head.
You should feel a rather relieving stretch. If you feel any pain or discomfort, reduce the amount of pressure on the side of your head.
For more ways to stretch your sternocleidomastoid, why not ask one of the team next time you’re in the gym.
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We love mum, and there’s nothing we love more than spoiling her rotten with lots of wonderful gifts on Mother’s Day.
In light of this, we’ve carefully selected some of mum’s all-time favourite ‘things to do’ at Bowood to help you when choosing the perfect gift for her this Mother’s Day.
There truly is no better way to spend a day together than by taking her on one of our divine Spa Days. Each of our Spa Days include a treatment, which can be enjoyed either individually or together, as well as full use of our spa facilities.
Want to Gift this Experience?
Use Mother’s Day as an excuse to treat mum to some much-needed R&R this spring. When she’s not unwinding in the spa or sipping cocktails in the bar, she can take a walk around the estate and watch springtime unfold.
If she’s lucky, she may even spot some of our resident deer, pheasant and other wildlife roaming freely.
Deluxe Spa Break | From £129pp – View Details
Indulgence Spa Break | From £190pp – View Details
£40 per couple
The ultimate Mother’s Day gift, afternoon tea. Treat mum to some of our freshly prepared, home-made cakes and pastries while gazing out across our picture-perfect golf course and woodlands.
Our Afternoon Tea experience is available daily from 2.30pm – 5pm.
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Sunday 31st March
Spending time with mum on Mother’s Day is far more important than a gift.
Why not bring her and the rest of the family to Bowood for either an à la carte lunch in The Shelburne Restaurant or a more relaxed carvery in our Kerry Suite?
Want to Gift Sunday Lunch at Bowood?
£40 | 30 Mins
Leave mum feeling fabulous with a relaxing holistic facial.
Our 30-minute facial uses award-winning skincare from Eminence Organics which reawakens and rejuvenates tired skin and can be customised to your specific skin type.
Natural exfoliation and skin renewal along with a décolleté massage will leave mums skin looking radiant and replenished.
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When it comes to improving your swing, there are many areas where physical conditioning is at least as important as a sound concept of technique.
So-called early extension is a great example. We can think of early extension as ‘standing up’ through the ball, a move that changes your body angles and compromises the delivery of the club.
In this article you’ll learn how it happens, why it matters, and what you can do about it. As so often in the golf swing, a little extra mobility in the right areas can make a massive difference to your game… and your scores.
What is ‘early extension’?
At address we create body angles that give us the space and opportunity to move the club freely around us on a good plane. If those angles change excessively during the swing, the path and angle of the club changes, and that creates problems with strike and accuracy.
One key set-up angle is pelvic bend, which you can picture as the tilt of your belt. In elite players, this is usually around 20º. During the downswing, the sheer act of hitting the ball hard causes this angle to flatten – in other words, your belt line becomes more horizontal. In elite players, this angle typically flattens to around 5º at impact.
Why early extension is so common
The problem here is that we need this pelvic angle to flatten without the head and upper body lifting up… and that demands a certain degree of flexibility in the lower and mid spine. If you are too stiff through this area, your upper body will simply lift as your pelvis becomes more horizontal. Often the hips and pelvis move in towards the ball, causing heel strikes, and the lower body struggles to rotate.
Ahead of the curve
The elite golfer has enough flexibility in his mid back to allow that pelvic angle to flatten without his head and shoulders lifting up – a move that puts a certain amount of curve through the spine. If you can work developing similar mobility, your problems with early extension will ease.
Drill 1: Mobility
Your first step to improving that important mid-spine flexibility is a simple mobility drill. It works in two stages:
Assume your regular 5-iron golf posture, your hands outstretched and leaning on the head of your driver as shown. If you have alignment canes, stick one through your belt loop to accentuate your pelvic tilt. Now, without changing your shoulder and head position, tilt your pelvis back as far as possible. This is the move that rounds your back and makes the cane (belt) horizontal.
Now go as far as you can the other way. Tilt your pelvis forward, the move that arches your back and creates more angle in the cane (belt). Repeat these two extremes in a slow and controlled manner, focusing on creating as much forward and backward tilt as possible. In doing this, you will slowly but surely increase your mid/lower back mobility.
Drill 2: Tell tail sign
Perhaps the surest indicator of early extension is when your rear and tailbone are closer to the ball at impact than they are at address. You can use a cane or old shaft to check this, and also improve your ability to retain your address angles through the swing.
Stick a cane or old shaft into the ground behind your lead heel. Angle it so that, at address, it is around a hand’s width away from your lead glute. In transition, as you move forward, feel your pelvis rotate to allow your rear to touch the cane. Your lead glute should retain contact all the way to the finish. Work on this both as a check, and as a drill to encourage the correct motion.
Celebrate with us this spring as we host an extra special Summer Ball with live music from The Deloreans, accompanied by a fabulous four-course dinner in The Kerry Suite…
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So far, we’ve spotted some swelling of buds, the odd insect that you really only see later in the year, but most apparent to me is the growth of bentgrass on our surfaces. From daily observation and keeping an eye on our clippings when we mow, the bentgrass is really showing growth as we go through this mild spell. This is great news given that our Poa populations will most certainly be sitting still for some time to come yet. Competitive advantage at work!
Rainfall-wise, we have a had a dry start to the year with February rainfall (and of course snow for that matter!). We’re currently sitting at not much over 50mm (2 inches) on top of the totals of January which really only hit half of average, at 35mm. Drier soil conditions have given us a great opportunity for fairway and semi-rough aeration which is most effective when the soil can crumble.
Our three main bunker renovation projects have included the greenside bunkers on holes 1, 5 and 12. As I write, the team are wrapping up the fifth and twelfth hole projects which have seen minor adjustments to their shape. The focus has been on the reconstruction of the edges and removal of any accumulated sand splash. In some cases, this was approaching 300mm depth as noted last month. The first bunker has been re-shaped on the front right, which at times gave quite a restricted backswing.
As we assess and undertake the work to these bunkers, we are trying to design sand faces and edging that will allow the ball to roll back away from the front faces. This will both reduce sand splash forward and provide fair ball lies but also stay in keeping with the original design. With all, comes compromise but we are looking at all perspectives.
Spring green renovations are upon us again. As required through all renovation and improvement operations, we tailored the techniques we used to match the conditions with which we’ve been dealing with. This spring, our operation had a primary focus on scarifying followed by micro-tining and sand topdressing to finish off the work.
The summer of 2018 threw challenging conditions for all of our turf surfaces and the consequences of these conditions are being seen now, six months on. Heat and absence of natural rainfall created stressful conditions for plants outside the normal tolerances of cool-season grasses through this period. These conditions reduced the vigour of growth and the overall health of our grasses. This has provided an opportunity for mosses to get a foot in the door where turf density was reduced.
Pre-treatment of green surfaces the week before our work with specific fertilisers stressed moss populations before mechanical operations were undertaken, the first of which was scarifying. Similar to verti-cutting, scarifying is effectively like power raking where both moss and organic matter are removed from the turf sward and collected for composting.
Following on from this, we applied pure sand topdressing which was brushed into the surface to reduce the density of organic matter and introduce structural stability back into the surface to aid recovery and smooth surfaces. Topdressing with sand is integral to our fine turf management programmes and we undertake this process throughout the year at varying rates of application from very light dustings hardly noticeable to heavy, hollow core filling applications that are apparent on the surface for a number of days after.
After topdressing was applied and brushed in solid micro-tining was undertaken which aided the smoothing and levelling of the surface and also, very importantly, provided an aerating effect to the soil that offers an opportunity for oxygenation of the soil and promotion of root development that is so crucial in the early days of the growing season. Root growth is at its highest in spring as soon as soil temperatures begin to rise. Healthy root growth provides the plant with an opportunity to access more groundwater, more soil nutrition and subsequently acquires an inherent ability to manage stress more effectively.
Aeration of soils should really be considered a fundamental part of turf management.
As is always the case with early season work, recovery is wholly governed by the weather conditions following the work. Cold overnight temperatures will maintain cold soil temperatures and therefore reduce or even stop plant growth. Our fertility programme following this work will be tailored to match the weather conditions always with a view to minimising recovery time and restoring play promptly.
Carrying over from my points on ground conditions, the team have been mowing regularly and shaping areas for the coming season. Fairways have had minor tweaks and approaches are blending in to match these. As our temperatures begin to rise, we will be addressing more of the shortcomings from last summer. This including scarifying and overseeding selected areas including tees and high traffic rough areas. Make sure you keep an eye out for the work and watch how long seed sowing takes to germinate.
Following a call from the greenkeeping team to help with improving bunker, playability we have changed our greenkeeping bunker rakes from the traditional landscape style rake to one with a tooth pattern that matches the on-course rakes. The teeth are shorter and much more closely spaced than the previous rakes but given the consistency across all of these tools, we have been seeing a real improvement in sand preparation since this change was made. The sand firms up more but the short teeth still provide a fluffy, shallow tilth for improved ball lie.
Remember last month – our rakes work best when you push them!! Get the word out, please!
Thanks for your time reading and as ever don’t hesitate to collar me and ask about anything that may be on your mind regarding the golf course.
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By the time of Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s births in 1819, the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne had held his title for 10 years. Born in 1780, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice had been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer at the tender age of 25 and went on to serve under eight prime ministers.
In 1869, the now 5th Marquess of Lansdowne was appointed a Junior Lord of the Treasury, aged 24, going on to distinguish himself as a statesman. During the latter part of Queen Victoria’s reign, he served as Governor-General of Canada and Viceroy of India, for instance. Queen Victoria offered both the 3rd and 5th Marquesses dukedoms in recognition of their political service – both declined!
Set in The Orangery and curated by Bowood’s archivist Dr Cathryn Spence, The ‘Victoria, Albert and the Lansdownes’ exhibition (30th March – 3rd November) will draw on Lansdowne family correspondence, diaries, paintings and photographs.
Heading up to the House’s Exhibition Rooms – which showcase the Bowood Collection of art, antiques and historical artefacts, for example, the gilded chair and footstool used by Queen Victoria at her wedding in 1840 and a sprig of orange blossom from her bouquet are on display in the Victoriana section, having been given by her to the 3rd Marquess who attended the wedding as Lord President of the Council. The Indiana section then contains gifts received by the 5th Marquess during his time representing the Queen-Empress as her Viceroy from 1888-1894.
The Victorian age witnessed a growing vogue for walled gardens to serve large country houses with fruit, vegetables and flowers for their day-to-day purposes and more elaborate entertaining. Well ahead of this period, Bowood House’s own four-acre plot had been created in 1754. Situated behind Bowood House, it comprises four distinct, one-acre squares comprising formal borders, a picking garden, glass houses and a working kitchen garden packed with fruit and vegetables. Lord and Lady Lansdowne open up their private Walled Garden to the public for scheduled weekday morning or afternoon guided tours. Angled around the season and what is in bloom at the time, the 60-minute tours also take in the Italianate Terraces that front the Diocletian wing of Bowood House and the Pleasure Grounds surrounding it.
More reflections on Victorian horticulture are to be found within Bowood’s Woodland Garden, two miles from Bowood House. It was here that the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, around 1854, started the planting of rhododendrons on a narrow strip of green sand (key to the garden’s standing today), running between Poole and the Wash. 1850-60 saw the first of three stages of rhododendron planting in the UK (the other two being in 1900 and 1950).
The planting tradition begun by the 3rd Marquess has continued down the generations with his grandson, the 5th Marquess, adding significantly to the garden on his return from India having been inspired by the species and colours he encountered there. His great-grandson, Charlie Lansdowne (today’s 9th Marquis) has – since 1972 when he took the helm at Bowood – continued the planting undertaken here by successive generations of his family. Setting to work in 2006 on what became a seven-year labour of love, Lord Lansdowne then unveiled the Woodland Garden’s new, additional four-acre ‘Jubilee Garden’ in 2013.
With the spirit of the Victorian garden drawn into the present time, the Woodland Garden’s heavenly display of bluebells, bluebells, magnolias and azaleas covers some 30 acres today. It will again open to the public in 2019 for its annual six-week run from late April-early June.