Top 10 Ways To Save Your Golf Game This Coming Winter
When it comes to mastering your golf game, there is one indisputable truth: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Which is why winter may be the most important season of all—if you take a few months off, you’re likely to lose your fined-tuned touch and have to start from scratch come April.
Aside from jetting to warmer climates for a quick 18 once a week, there are other ways you can save your game this winter. Our editors consulted golf pros at the helm of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star golf resorts to glean their best off-season tips so this spring you can hit the fairway in fine form:
1. Hit the weights.
Strengthening your glutes and maintaining your core are keys to keeping your game fresh, according to Shawn Cox, director of golf at The Grand Del Mar in San Diego. “Strong glutes help with balance and power,” says Cox. Translation? You’re more apt to strike the ball harder and farther, hit after hit. Go for an extra set of squats while holding weights in each hand.
2. Improve your mental game.
Anyone who’s picked up a golf club knows the mental aspect of golf is just as important as the physical. Todd Wagner, senior instructor at The American Club in Kohler, Wis., suggests working on your inner pre-shot routine. Take a deep breath, relax and visualize shots in your head. “Developing a pre-shot routine for every shot will help lower your scores,” Wagner says.
3. Learn to like yoga.
Both yoga and Pilates help with flexibility and core stability while lengthening muscles to help with range of motion, according to Dennis Clark, director of instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa. And as you improve flexibility and range of motion, you’ll be able to take a fuller, more robust swing. Clark especially recommends these flexibility and strength exercises for senior golfers (as you age, your body has more flexibility restrictions).
4. Swing weighted clubs.
Working with weighted clubs is a way to improve the timing and mechanics of your swing, says Russ Miller, director of golf at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. Your body’s motor memory is enhanced when swinging with a heavier club (so it’s easier for your muscles to “remember” how to swing correctly). You’ll also feel the moment of impact better, which helps develop consistent timing.
5. Practice in the mirror.
Blake Cathey, lead instructor at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina, swears by using full-length mirrors as training aids. “You want to make several super slow motion swings while maintaining your balance through the entire motion,” says Cathey. Try to correlate what you’re feeling with what you see in the mirror and make adjustments accordingly. Cathey suggests practicing your full swing, back swing and down swing for five minutes, four times a week.
6. Visit the driving range.
This may seem obvious, but it’s important: Nothing helps your game more than actually hitting golf balls. If you can’t hit the links, head to the indoor range to practice your drive. “It will keep your swing in a groove and keep your golf muscles in shape,” says Clark. To maintain momentum and motor memory through the offseason, visit the range at least once a week.
7. Chip and putt on carpet.
Chipping and putting is either your forte or your failing—ensure it’s the former and practice on carpet during the off-season, advises The Broadmoor’s Miller. In terms of friction, it’s similar to the fairway and green (and convenient enough to do in your bedroom) and will help you maintain your touch.
8. Do one-armed drills.
If golf is anything, it’s a measurement of consistency. To that end, Ronnie Miller, director of instruction at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, recommends this putting drill: Place one hand on your putter then stroke five-footers for 10 minutes while keeping the other hand at your side or in your hip pocket. “This will help you develop a good putting rhythm,” says Miller. Try it from four different directions to the same hole, and keep a steady rhythm (which will foster consistency) with each stroke.
9. Head to the simulator.
Simulators monitor—and display—club speed, trajectory, spin axis, launch conditions, distance and a slew of other club and golf ball variables, helping you get a real feel for your game. “They give the player feedback ‘simulating’ ball flight one would get outdoors,” says Clark. Use the data to hyper-tune your swing.
10. Watch the Golf Channel.
Increase your golf IQ by tuning into the Golf Channel. See Michael Breed on The Golf Fix help others work out kinks, and take cues from the pros as they tour. “Watch the Golf Channel in the winter months to see the great swings in the world,” says The Broadmoor’s Miller. Remaining immersed in golf is a key factor to staying in the game.