How To Get Through The Winter and Improve Your Game
For those living north of Florida, this has been a long and cold winter. This can obviously lead to cabin fever for many of us, especially those who have the golf bug. Today, I’m going to share with you some tips on how to get through the winter as a golfer and how to improve your game doing so.
- Put a club in your hand at least a few times a week. This is one of those things that sounds so much easier than it is. What I recommend is keeping a wedge in your house and swing it a few times a week. This is pretty easy during the weekend when golf is on tv. Watch golf for a bit, then take a few swings in your living room trying to copy the tempo of one of your favorite golfers you just saw on tv. Swinging a club a few times a week will keep your golf muscles loose and make it easier to transition to an actual round when spring rolls around.
- Play simulated golf rounds. Find a nearby place that offers simulated golf. This is a great way to break up the monotony of winter, have fun with friends and play a round of golf. In the Cincinnati area, I know you can play at Dave and Busters and The Practice Center at Clearcreek in Franklin. If you’ve never done this, give it a try. It’s fun.
- Go to a heated driving range when it’s above 30 degrees.
- Put an indoor golf net and mat in your basement. I was lucky when I grew up because my dad put up a net in our basement. I hit balls almost everyday in there. Fortunately, our ceilings were 9 feet so I could swing any club. If your ceiling is just 8 feet, you may only be able to swing a short iron. That’s still much better than nothing. This is a pretty inexpensive way to beat the winter and improve your game.
- Take a short golf trip somewhere warm. This winter, I went to Florida and played 6 rounds of golf. It was great. Even if you can’t get away for a week, you may have time to get away for a long weekend somewhere. 3 days of golf is much better than nothing. I’d recommend going to Orlando or south of Orlando for the best weather. One of my favorites is World Woods, north of Tampa and West of Orlando.
- Hibernate or move south of your current location.
The winter time is a great way to improve your game. You can work on your putting stroke, chipping, and all of your fundamentals. Here are some of the drills I’d recommend:
- Check all your fundamentals once a week in a mirror. Check your grip, posture, shoulder and foot alignment, balance, weight distribution, ball position, etc. The better you are at these, the more consistent you’ll be.
- Check swing positions in a mirror. Check your backswing halfway back to see if the clubface and path are good, check the top of swing face-on to see the length of your backswing, and check your finish position to see if you’re balanced.
- Swing in slow-motion in front of a mirror. This is a great way to feel your golf swing and check certain position.
- Chip off carpet. Buy some plastic practice balls and chip somewhere inside. The firmer the lie the better. If you can chip off a hard floor you can probably chip anywhere.
- Putt on smooth carpet into a cup or buy a putting mat to putt on. This a great way to groove your putting stroke.
- Draw a line on your ball and try to make it roll end-over-end. If it’s wobbling a lot, then practice making the ball better. If you do so, you’ll make more putts.
Conditioning Your Body
It’s easy to get lazy in the winter, but I believe it’s the best time to workout. First, what else are you going to do? Second, when you have free time in the summer, you’re usually golfing. Use the winter to get healthier and stronger for the upcoming season.
- Walk or jog on a treadmill using a lot of incline to get your body used to walking up and down hills. The longer you walk the better prepared you’ll be for the 4+ hour rounds. Shoot for 3+ miles each time.
- Swim. I swing throughout the year. It’s a great full body workout.
- Strengthen your hands and forearms. Squeeze stress balls at work. Lift light weights for your forearms. The stronger your hands and forearms are the more power you’ll have.
- Do a lot of ab work. This will not only stabilize your body, it will help prevent back injuries.
- Learn new golf stretches and exercises. One great website for this is Titleist’s Performance Institute, www.mytpi.com.
Winter is a great time to take care of your clubs.
- I recommend re-gripping them at least once a year. There’s plenty of time right now to do it and you won’t miss them like you would in the summer.
- Check the lofts and lies of all your irons. Believe it or not, the lofts and lies of your clubs can change. It’s important to check to see if your set is consistent.
- Clean your grips at least once a month. Think how often you play when your hands are sweaty. Now, think how dirty your grips are. Yuck. Simply scrub them with soap and water. This will make them tacky again and it will prolong the life of the grips.
- Get on a launch monitor with a local PGA Professional to see if your current set of clubs is good for you. They may be perfect, they may need some tweaking, or you might need a complete overhaul. If you love the game and you want to play your best, you owe it to yourself to know that your equipment fits your game.
I hope these thoughts and tips help you get through the winter faster and improve your golf game. If all else fails, pray that the groundhog was right in predicting an early spring. Thanks for reading!