Leslie Albro is ready to get serious enough about golf to take lessons. Unlike most of us, though, she had the self-awareness to spend time getting in shape

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LESLIE ALBRO is ready to get serious enough about golf to take lessons. Unlike most of us, though, she had the self-awareness to spend time getting in shape first.

“I’m probably in the best shape of my life,” she said after working out with personal trainer Pritam Andreassen, who specializes in improving strength and balance in female golfers. “I didn’t want to take lessons before I was in good enough shape to make the most of them.”

Get in shape before doing the fun stuff? Un-American. I know golfers who spend oodles of money on equipment and lessons, but give little effort to shaping themselves for the rigors and unnatural motion involved in the golf swing.

Albro, who’s in her 50s, has been playing some when she isn’t working with Andreassen and has lengthened her drive by about 20 yards. She says getting stronger has complicated her game because she now has to decide on the right club rather than just flailing away and hoping for the best.

Treat your feet

If your feet get hot and sweaty this summer, you might want to check out Summer Soles, recommended by golf pro Mikaela Parmlid. The product is a peel-and-stick fabric liner that she says allows feet to breathe. See www.summersoles.com for details.

In a 30-minute workout with Albro at the North Seattle Gym in Lake City, Andreassen got her message across in a pleasant but forceful style, emphasizing balance, dynamic movement and explosive power, and mimicking the swing when possible. It seemed the definition of functional, keeping the muscles and movements required in a golf swing in mind.

In one drill, Albro squatted, holding a ball with two hands in front of her. She brought it up from one shin to the opposite shoulder and back down, activating the core through diagonal rotation. In another, she stood perpendicular to a wall and used both arms to bounce the ball against it. Like many relative beginners, Albro tended to use her back arm only. Andreassen would not let her off the hook, preaching bilateral balance.

Just like swinging a bat or a tennis racket, hitting a golf ball demands rotational torque. The lower back often bears the brunt, but the rotator cuff and left wrist and elbow (for right-handed players) get strained, too.

Albro moved to a cable machine, where she used both arms to make a diagonal chopping motion while ending up with the toe of her lead foot pointing parallel to the motion. That enabled her to rotate her hips more and take some of the stress off her shoulders and arms — the same principle as with a safe golf swing — while building strength.

“Women especially don’t get their hips involved as much as they should,” Andreassen says. “We want to get the hips working in better coordination with the shoulders.”

She (www.pritam.net) suggests these exercises:

• Lie on a stability ball, making sure your head and neck are supported. Maintain a bridge position by contracting your glutes and keeping shoulders, hips and knees level. Keep feet shoulder-width apart and knees at a 90-degree angle throughout the exercise. Place your palms together at full arm’s length straight above you.

Rotate your body to one side and allow the ball to roll slightly and slowly until your arms are parallel to the ground and one shoulder is resting on the ball (your shoulders should be perpendicular to the ball). Keep hips stable and glutes contracted. Slowly return to starting position and rotate to the other side.

• For explosive power, position yourself in your “address-the ball” position with feet parallel to a wall or partner. Hold a weighted ball (light to start) between your hands. Bring the ball back until you are about two-thirds into your backswing (don’t bend your elbows). Without changing the angle of your hands, throw the ball down on the opposite side of your body while rotating your hip and foot into a finish position. Arms should stay relaxed and loose and try to generate the movement by rotating your hip. Work both sides of the body.

• For flexibility, hold a club between your hands lengthwise (one hand on the bottom, one on the top). Assume your address position. While maintaining correct address posture, gradually begin your backswing, pause at the top, then slowly complete your swing, holding briefly in the finish position. Repeat several times.

Richard Seven is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer. He can be reached at rseven@seattletimes.com.