Hikle Puzo, left, and Donna Brownell still play golf with tennis elbow and arthritis of the wrist, respectively.

Most people don’t think of golf as a contact sport. However, the object of the game is to contact a ball that is sitting on the ground. In order to do this, you must contact the ground in front of the ball.

The act of swinging a golf club is an extremely demanding sports activity. To develop clubhead speeds from 50 up to more than 100 mph in two seconds for amateurs can put stress on muscles and joints.

According to the National Golf Foundation, approximately 60% of all amateur golfers suffer with a traumatic or overuse injury during their playing years. The injury rate is higher for players over the age of 50.

The major reason for golf injuries include:

• Inadequate warm-up and lack of stretching

• Poor physical conditioning

• Overuse (excessive play or practice)

• Improper swing technique

Injuries are slightly different for males and females. Among amateur males, injuries occur most often to the lower back. This can be caused by a disc injury, pulled muscle or ligaments. The golf swing puts the lower back in a position that, with overuse, injuries can occur.

For females, the elbow, wrist and hand are common injuries. This can be caused by excessive play and practice, poor swing mechanics and miss-hits.

A common lower body injury area is the hip. The golfer rotates around their back hip, shifts their weight and then rotates forward around their front hip. Thus, the hips are especially vulnerable because of the pivoting and twisting in the lower body.

A common upper body injury is pain to the elbow. Golfer’s elbow is inflammation and pain on the inside of the upper arm near the elbow. Tennis elbow is an inflammation and pain on the “outside” of the upper arm near the elbow.

Tennis elbow is actually more common to golfers. The pain is usually the greatest at the top of the back swing and at impact. Rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder region are also caused by poor mechanics.

Obviously, impact is where the majority of injuries occur. This can be caused by early extension of the back elbow and wrist prior to impact. As a result, the golfer hits the ground prior to impacting the ball. These miss-hits typically cause injury to the elbows, hands and wrist.

What can you do to help prevent golf injuries?  First of all, you need to develop a solid swing technique. A golfer with poor swing mechanics has an increased risk of injury.

Next, you need to be on a conditioning program that includes stretching. Light weights and exercising on a TRX rope that most fitness centers have is very good because you are using your own body weight to gain strength and flexibility.

Finally, before you practice or play, you need to warm up with stretches and limit your practice time using the full swing. Instead, spend more time on the short game and putting.

Golf is definitely more fun when you are injury free.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Pinecrest Golf Club. jean.golfdoctor.harris@gmail.com; golfdoctorjean.com