New year, new golfer? Many of us will let our clubs gather cobwebs over the winter, dust them off in the spring, and wait until June to really improve. Luckily, this is the best time of the year to enhance your game (even without the gaudy driver you bought yourself as a Christmas present). If you’re a serious player stuck in the frost, try winterizing your game with a few (or all) of these tips. Spring won’t know what hit it.
- GET IN SHAPE – Really, there’s nothing better you can do for your game at any time of year, but since you’re not playing now, take the time you would have spent practicing and exercise. There are all kinds of golf-specific workouts out there, but you can do anything. Lift weights, run, do yoga, go to your local butcher and punch meat like Rocky. The important thing is to try to find something you like doing so you’ll stick with it. YOUR BODY IS YOUR GOLF SWING. A pro can say you lack hip rotation, but if you’re hips won’t move, it won’t matter. Get fit and you will be able to do things you didn’t think you were capable of on the golf course.
P.S. – Don’t be afraid of weightlifting. You are not going to get too big or lose flexibility. If you have a bodybuilder physique by spring, you’re probably on steroids. Also, exercises like squats increase lower-body power and flexibility tremendously. Find a simple and effective program you can stick to (Body-for-Life works wonders and is easy to follow) and enjoy your added club speed and enhanced mental focus.
- TAKE AN HONEST SELF-ASSESSMENT – Look back on last season. What parts of your game are liabilities? Chances are you do some things very well and others not so much. Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you start off well but fade down the stretch, or do you have issues from bunkers? If you’re all over the place, i.e. one day you hit driver well but chip terribly, the next hit irons well but can’t putt, look for tendencies. If you play a lot, you have them and are better in certain areas. We all change day-to-day, but assess where you bleed shots. I’m not going to ask you to write a journal here, but if you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, you’re not going to improve.
- SWING A CLUB – Swing changes don’t come from whirling through 100,000 golf balls in half an hour on the range (the scrape-and-hit approach does not help any facet of your game, except for some light exercise, so don’t do it). They come from slow and meticulous work without a ball, so winter is the perfect time. The best drill to implement a swing change is to swing a club EXTREMELY SLOWLY. Start by addressing your phone or stopwatch as if it’s the ball. Take 30 seconds to complete the entire swing. Then go for 45 seconds, then a minute, then a minute for the backswing and one for the downswing. Always complete an entire swing, even if you just want to fix your takeaway, and never stop moving completely. Your brain and body will implement changes quickly (keep in mind, this is surprisingly difficult to do, so try your best to stick with it a few times per week).
- LEARN PHYSICS – As a golfer, it will benefit you have a basic understanding of why the ball flies the way it does. It’s especially important for players to understand clubface and path, and why the ball is fading, drawing, hooking or slicing. There is an abundance of information all over the internet on this stuff, so we don’t need to go into specific detail here. The nice part about golf is that the ball will do the exact same thing every time (with varying degrees depending on weather, altitude, etc.) if the club is swung at the same speed on the same path at the same angle with the same contact. Isaac Newton doesn’t lie.
P.S. – Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to take golf lessons. You’ll begin to understand your misses and a pro can help narrow down swing issues by your ball flight. Also, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
- DON’T GO CRAZY – Hopefully you already have some winter activities to partake in. By all means, do so. This is not a long list for a reason. Taking some time off can be incredibly beneficial. Everything in moderation, even golf.