Winter Golf Tips

 By Chris Gregor 

Here we go again. Like all of you who play golf in the northwest I am faced with the same dilemma this time of year, the WINTER! Just when it seems like I have my swing in shape and actually have some confidence in my game, BOOM, the weather starts to turn cold and wet. Being a bit of fair weather golfer, I’m frustrated in the knowledge that my game, which took all summer to hone, must now be put on the back burner for the better part of 5 months. I’ll occasionally tee it up during the winter but even if I catch a dry day the fairways, in general, are likely to be soggy and the temperature chilly, if not flat out cold. Certainly, these are not conditions that lend themselves to fluid swings and low scores. The problem then, is how to keep one’s game in shape while not actually playing much golf. Gather ‘round one and all while I share a few helpful hints I’ve gleaned through the school of hard knocks.

1) Make swing notes and write them down. If you are playing well at the end of the summer, it’s likely you have just a few key swing thoughts that seem most important and, when focusing on those, seem to result in solid contact more often than not. (i.e., keeping your head still, making a full back-swing, letting the club head release at the bottom, etc) Don’t hesitate to write those thoughts down for future reference. Simply make a brief list and put it in your golf bag. This can be especially important if you don’t practice much, if at all, during the winter. It’s real easy to forget some of those ideas that have helped improve your game over the summer, so make sure you don’t.

2) Find time to make practice swings. Golf is such a huge game of feel, it’s critical to maintain what it feels like to make a golf swing. It’s all about muscle memory in a golf swing and completely ignoring your golf clubs for extended periods makes the re-learning curve come springtime much longer. There are many ways to get your swings in. If you are not afraid of the weather you can simply go play somewhere. My personal preference is to find a decent covered & HEATED driving range. Unless the wind is blowing, it’s generally pretty pleasant hitting range balls during the winter in a covered and heated stall. There are any number of these ranges located throughout the state. I encourage you to find one and take advantage of it. You don’t even need to hit balls in order to make a golf swing. Your garage, backyard or living room (provided your ceiling is high enough) are also alternatives. In fact, simply making shadow swings (no club needed) in your bedroom or office will do in a pinch. Remember, you’re only trying to keep your body familiar with the motion involved in swinging a club.

3) Try to stay in shape physically. It’s no secret that the better the shape of your physical condition, the better (or at least more consistent) are the results of participation in physical activities. If you have a stretching program you try to stick to during the summer, then stick to it over the winter. If you see a chiropractor and/or a physical or massage therapist several times over the summer, continue those visits over the winter. A regular combination of some sort of cardiovascular workout, stretching exercises and practice swings will go a long way in keeping your game in tune during those months when golf outside is simply not an option.

4) Visualize your best golf. Take 5 or 10 minutes a day and simply think about your best swings. Anyone who has ever played golf, no matter at what level or how often, has hit the “perfect” shot. You know, the shots that felt so smooth you hardly felt the ball as it launched off your club head. It traveled the perfect distance and on the line you were aiming. Take time to think about those. Remember what they felt like, what they looked like, what they sounded like and what, if anything, you were thinking before you hit it. It may sound stupid, but focusing on your best golf swings helps ingrain positive swing thoughts and possibly even some confidence. What do suppose tour players are thinking about when they stand behind their ball prior to making their shot? I’ll venture they’re not bemusing all of their previous crappy shots!

We’ll, that pretty much sums it up. Golf, as we are all aware, can be an insanely difficult game. Ignoring it for 5 months only makes it that much harder. Outside of winning the lottery, virtually all desirable results are achieved through some sort of personal effort. Want to keep your game in shape over the winter? Then keep it a priority and keep it in mind……..