by Kevin Haime, 2000 PGA of Canada Teacher of The Year
Winter is inevitable in Canada. Every year like clockwork courses are prepped for their four month hibernation under a blanket of snow and golfers stash their clubs away in a closet, basement or garage. For real hard core golfers it’s a drag. Some are lucky enough to travel south but most have to suffer through a long, unwanted break.
I actually think a little break can be a pretty good thing for your golf though. Winter can be a great time to step back and assess exactly where your golf game is. To use an old phrase…. when it comes to golf, most players “can’t see the forest for the trees”. For 26 years now at my Golf Centre I’ve watched many of the same golfers practice the same way, swing the same way and shoot the same scores. It’s golf’s version of ground hog day. All golfers will tell you that they want to play better but most fight that same slice and shoot higher than they’d like to for decades. Many golfers are even resigned to it. I hear ”I’m a 90s shooter” or “I’ve had that slice for years” all summer long on my lesson tee.
I really think golfers could learn from sports teams who use the offseason to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. They use their down time to chart a new, more successful path going forward and golfers should do the exact same thing. If you want to play better golf next season, you have to change what you’re doing and all that can start this winter.
Here are 6 steps you can take this winter so you can get out of your golf rut and play your best golf ever next year.
- Take a Video Lesson This Off-Season
This step is a must because if you don’t know what’s wrong, how can you ever expect to fix it? You’ll never improve unless you figure out why the ball flies the way it does and what you need to change to make it better. When it comes to your golf, knowledge is power. I really believe that most golfers would play a lot better if they knew exactly what their flaws were.
- Make A Golf Plan
Sit down this off season and write down a specific plan for your golf game. Consider any equipment changes or upgrades. Figure out a budget for practice, lessons, play and travel. Build a practice schedule that includes long game and short game work. Build a playing schedule that includes fun rounds and any tournament play. Lastly, consider more thought about your mental and emotional processes. Think about how better course management and emotional strength can help you play better.
- Get More Fit And Flexible
Many golfers I see on my lesson tee literally can’t get their bodies to coil or move properly because of inflexibility. I’m not suggesting that you spend the entire winter in the gym but there’s no doubt that improving your aerobic endurance, your core strength and your flexibility will have a positive effect on your golf game.
- Do Some Mirror Work
Spend this winter working on your set up and your swing positions in front of a mirror. So many golfers I see on my lesson tee have poor alignment, poor posture and the wrong ball position among many other flaws. That’s really unfortunate because all of those fundamentals can be easily fixed with a little attention to detail in front of a mirror. Mirror work won’t cost you a nickel and can be done in your own home.
- Keep Your Winter Ball Hitting Constructive
I really like the idea of hitting a few balls throughout the winter but be careful how you do it. I spend my winters in The SuperDome at Ben Franklin Park working with golfers because I really like the idea of seeing ball flight. Be very careful about hitting balls a short distance indoors without professional supervision. Hitting too many balls without ball flight can actually lead to a nasty surprise come spring.
- Work on your Pitching
The best thing to do for your swing in the winter is to focus more on balance, rhythm and swinging the club on plane when you practice. Forget trying to increase club head speed and hit more smaller shots. My favorite drill in the winter is to have my students pitch to targets in the SuperDome. I’ll set targets at 10 yard intervals from 20 yards all the way up to 80 yards and have my players focus on distance control and consistency when they practice. It’s amazing how that simple drill leads to better body and club awareness resulting in better ball striking next season.