No sooner than I started gloating over the wonderful mild winters we have here in South Texas that our first blast descended upon us. This week is going to be cold (for us – highs in the40s), windy and wet (hopefully, God knows we could use the rain!). So, I’m feeling like my golf brothers in the north, where it’s just not in the picture for a while. That got me to thinking what I could be doing on these cold wet days to help my golf game when practicing is out of the question.
These are things any and all of us can do throughout the winter when actually getting out to play or practice just isn’t in the cards. And we’d all benefit next spring and summer if we just spend a little time and interest away from the course working on simple things that will help our golf performance.
- Work on flexibility. One of the frustrating things about getting older is the loss of flexibility in my muscles. I’ll be 60 next March and I’m finally starting to realize that this body isn’t the same as it was 10, 15 or 20 years ago (duh!). So, one of my winter resolutions is to stay with a regular stretching routine. The idea is just to keep the muscles as long and supple as possible to ward off the natural contraction and loss of extension caused by age . . . or inactivity! It only takes 5-8 minutes each morning and afternoon to run through a routine that stretches the legs, back, shoulder and torso muscles. Then move to the smaller muscles in the forearms. The internet is full of videos and free information to guide you.
- Left side strength. If you read here often, you know that I’m a huge believer that the lead side has to be dominant in the golf swing. You can hit it as hard as you want with your right side, as long as your left side isn’t getting overpowered. But if you’re right-handed, that is tough to do. So, I’m now keeping a small dumbbell and squeeze ball on or near my desk so that when I’m on the phone, I can just work that left hand and forearm to build the strength there.
- Putt!!! I know for me, missing short putts is the biggest area I can improve my performance. The dreaded “yips” are always waiting to afflict me, and I’ve developed a tendency to come out of my short putts – peeking too soon. So, I have a putting track in my spare bedroom, and I am going to make it a habit to go in there and hit 40-50 short putts several times a week, working on staying down through impact and ingraining the slower tempo and finished backstroke that are my keys to better putting. You can do the same with a 2’ x 8’ piece of tight commercial carpet, preferably tacked to a board to make it smooth.
Just because you can’t play doesn’t mean you can’t work on your game. I’d like to hear from you readers about other off-season things you do to keep in touch with the game when you can’t get out and play. Sound off!!!!
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I putt in the basement...I have a little 1x6' putting mat and I roll putts during commercials when I'm watching sports on the weekends.
I saw a trainer two years ago for eight weeks...and I got eight really good workouts that are geared to golfers. I'm by no means a gym rat, but I think the strength training, cardio, and stretching that I have done the last few years has been one of the best moves I've ever made for my golf game.
I watch every minute of golf that I can during the winter. It just keeps me pumped up. We're in for a slow month...but when the PGA starts in Hawaii, I try to watch all the coverage I can.
I read all of the Bob Rotella's books on golf. Great winter tradition.
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf
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