What do you do when the cold weather hits and you can’t go out on the links? Don’t let your golf game deteriorate. There are off-season drills and activities to help keep your game sharp…and maybe even nudge it up a notch or two.
Putting is crucial to every hole – except that elusive hole-in-one. Once the courses are open, how much time do you spend honing your putting skills? Very likely, the answer is “not enough.”
Winter is ideal for focusing on putting drills. It’s not like you’re missing any playing time. You’ll need a home putting green.
You can purchase an inexpensive one or make your own. You need artificial turf carpet, a plastic cup, masking tape and a measuring tape. If you practice faithfully, you’ll see big gains by spring.
Concentrate on all the putting details: grip, setup and stroke. And don’t get stuck in a rut. Make sure to vary the putting distance.
Buy a weighted club and practice in your garage or other area where you have room for a full swing. That’s not as ridiculous as it sounds: these clubs are typically a bit shorter than standard ones.
If the club isn’t too heavy, your body gets used to it. When you’re back to your usual, lighter clubs, you’ll swing faster and with greater force. Your technique and accuracy haven’t changed, but you’re more powerful.
While you’re at it, become more powerful overall. Work on strength two to three days a week and endurance three to five days. Stretch before and after each session.
For strength training, use weights at a gym. Or work out at home using light hand weights and your own body weight.
Do cardio workouts that you enjoy – or at least don’t hate too much. For instance, take classes at a fitness center, use an elliptical trainer or run on a treadmill. Twenty to 30 minute brisk walks are fine, as well.
While you’re improving your body, don’t forget flexibility. Stretch those muscles regularly. It’s important to hit all major muscle groups in the chest, back, legs, arms and trunk.
Get a Grip
You want a relaxed, neutral grip. A lot of players really concentrate on this during games, but that’s a problem. You want it to come automatically.
Winter is a fine time to drill this into your head. Practice while you’re watching TV on a cold, dark night.
Just before your show starts, get your hands in the ideal position on a practice club. Keep it that way while the show is on. However, when it’s commercial time, relax, then re-grip properly again.
Tune up your grip during an engaging show. You’ll want to focus on something other than the discomfort you feel.
It’s not painful; it’s just not fun. But a football game, zombie horde or alien attack will take your mind off the drill.
Take a Trip
If you live up north, the winter is a perfect time to head south. You don’t even have to go all the way down to Florida; there are plenty of courses in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and other southern states that are warm enough to golf in. Trying out a golf course in a new location gives you the chance to put what you’ve been working on into practice and give you a fresh set of challenges as you take on an unfamiliar course.
Use the winter as a time to really focus on your game and you’ll start the new season out stronger than you were the year before.