Golf may seem like a summer game, but keeping your skills sharp over the winter is crucial for maintaining your handicap. Follow these tips from a pro at the Marriott Golf Academy℠ to keep yourself in the swing of things.
As winter sweeps across the country, the nation’s golfers are putting away their clubs with a sigh, no doubt longing for warmer days and a “good walk spoiled.” If you’re not lucky enough to be living in a year-round golf destination, you may be tempted to simply resign yourself to the fact that you — and your swing — must hibernate until spring.
But welcoming winter doesn’t mean that you have to let your swing get rusty, or (even worse) fall apart completely. Here are some tips from a golfing pro on how to keep your golf game going and improve your golf swing, even in the offseason.
Dress for Success
In some locales, winter doesn’t have to mean abandoning your golf game (I’m looking at you, Southern California and Florida). However, colder temperatures may require you to adjust your habits. Layer your clothing for increased warmth as you play. It’s also smart to use hand warmers in between swings to keep your fingers flexible enough to grip the club.
The cold air might not only affect you; it can affect your golf game, too. Cold air is denser than warm air, meaning it will increase both the lift and the drag on your ball. You may find your drive going higher and shorter when you’re playing in the winter, so take that into account when planning your shot. Practicing at a driving range in cooler temperatures can also help you adjust for this particular phenomenon.
Keep your golf balls at room temperature — don’t store them in your trunk. Golf ball materials lose some resiliency when it’s cold, resulting in less power when you hit the ball.
Take It Inside
Even with snow on the ground and bitter temperatures outside, you can still practice your game by using indoor equipment. Use a net for a low-tech option, or opt for an innovative golf simulation system such as TrackMan or GolfTEC.
According to Mike Ellis, senior golf instructor at Marriott Golf Academy in Palm Desert, California, “Some of these golf simulators are great and can even be found in restaurants or bars. You can virtually play Pebble Beach indoors even when it’s frigid outdoors.”
Elis also noted that although they use TrackMan at Marriott Golf Academy, any of these types of systems can work well for golfers living in cold climates.
With locations in more than 25 states, Topgolf allows you to play “golf” year-round while enjoying food and drink with your friends. The high-tech game involves hitting microchipped golf balls at giant, dartboard-like targets on an outfield.
Stretch It Out
If you don’t have access to a simulator, you can still keep your swing in good condition by practicing at home. “Anywhere (indoors) you can swing a golf club will help you stay limber for the upcoming golf season,” Ellis said. “Specifically, in terms of tightness and stretching, you have to keep it going.”
According to Ellis, because golf utilizes many different muscle groups, it’s vital to maintain your core strength and stay flexible. Consider trying stretches that engage your quadriceps, back, hamstrings, hips, wrists, shoulders and core muscles. Stretching not only will help you avoid injury, but it may help promote a fluid, full golf swing, which can improve your performance.
Another helpful way to keep up your overall fitness and form is yoga. There are even golf-specific yoga flows that will help keep you moving and improving during the winter months. Much as he hates to admit it, even my dad (reluctantly) credits yoga for enhancing his game.
Not ready to savasana your way to a better swing? Ellis recommends practicing with a weighted, heavier-than-normal golf club during the winter. This makes your actual clubs feel light when you pick them up again, and it will help increase the speed and power of your swing.
Keep It Up
No matter how you choose to stay in the game, don’t let the offseason derail your golf game. After all, if you take four to six months off, it’ll take at least that long to build back up your skills next summer. So, bundle up, hit an indoor simulator or even better: plan a trip to a great winter golf destination like Hilton Head, Palm Springs or Orlando. Your summer swing will thank you.
Enhance your swing at Marriott Golf Academy.