When winter comes, and the carts go away, many people take that as a sign to put their clubs away, too. Their clubs collect dust all winter long. It doesn’t have to be this way. The off-season is a valuable time to make long-lasting and worthwhile improvements to your game, even if you can’t play outside.
Whether you play golf daily, weekly, or even once a month, it’s easy to get distracted and only focus on the results. The rain stops for one day, and we head go out to the golf course in a frenzy to get that one beautiful swing. However, not practicing and focusing on your technique and form is just as bad as not playing golf at all. Winter practice is the perfect time to fine-tune your technique. Through repetitive practice, you’ll be playing like pro when spring returns. Here are a couple pieces of advice to make sure that you’re making the most of the off-season.
Take Full Swings Regularly
Taking full swings regularly is key to improving. The motion will keep your body loose and ready to play the next year. Don’t stress about doing it daily. Just taking 20 to 30 swings two or three times a week will make a dramatic difference when spring rolls around. While practicing, focus on taking slow, controlled swings. Pay attention to hitting key positions in your swing and which muscles you’re using. Doing this will train your body to naturally make these movements when you’re out playing a game. If you have room in your home, I recommend getting foam balls and to hit around. After practicing for a while without a ball, your mind might get bored or lose interest. Sometimes, visually seeing a ball fly will refresh your mind! Taking one of these approaches, or a combination of them, will definitely help make your transition from inside to outside much easier.
Chip, Chip and Chip Some More
Practice chipping all over your house. While this may seem dangerous or unnecessary, it’s an easy skill to practice that will yield great results in the spring. The key is to focus on landing spots. Obviously, greens will react differently than your living room carpet, but being able to consistently land the ball in the same spot provides a standard that can be easily converted over to your play on the course. Hitting landing spots in your short game is one of the skills that I teach in my lessons, and the value is great. The ability to land the ball where you want to will make you a fluid golfer who can play a variety of new courses with ease. To spice things up, try to chip into garbage cans, or other obstacles, if you want to experiment with trajectory in your chip shots! Dresser drawers, sinks or a shoebox are great obstacles that are found in most homes.
Stay in Shape
Not only will you look good and feel good by staying in physical shape, but your golf game will also improve from having more stamina and flexibility. Losing a couple of pounds can make all the difference when it comes to your game, and winter is the perfect time to commit to change. A couple days of cardio or strength training each week can boost your endurance when you play again, and you won’t feel as tired when you get to the back nine, when it really matters. Incorporating a stretching routine will also improve your flexibility, which can add a few yards to how far you hit the ball, and who doesn’t want that? Golf is a more physical game than many people think, and taking a few steps in the winter can help you play your best in not only the spring, but into summer as well.
Putting may be the most difficult to practice when you’re not able to be on the course, but you can still find ways to practice putting during winter. Focus on your starting line. On the carpet, get something long, and roll a ball next to as long as possible. This should square up your stroke and alleviate many flaws to start with. Have hardwood floors in your house? Try to keep the ball on one panel for as long as you can. This will help you focus on releasing the club down the line and not compensating or manipulating the face in order to make it go straight. If you don’t have hardwood floors, then an extended measuring tape will work great. The two key points about putting are line and speed, and working on your line in the off-season gives you one less thing to worry about when you’re back on the course.
Regardless of how good you are or how seriously you take golf, winter can be very valuable to you, if you let it. Any practice that you do in the winter will show in the spring. While many of your friends may be struggling to catch up, you’ll be taking the lead and continuing to improve your game.