Winter, yikes, I said the word! Snow, yuck, a four-letter word all golfers dislike.
Winter, cold weather and snow are a Minnesota staples for about two-thirds of the year (ha-ha) and although we are used to it, it doesn’t mean we have to like it. But, winter is a great time to accomplish many things golf related that are not easily accomplished during the golf season.
Winter is a great time to make major changes to your golf swing. If you have a good instructor, hitting into a net makes major swing changes much easier.
If you try to make major changes during the golf season you will always take a couple of steps backwards before you start to see the improvements. But, by hitting into a net with a capable eye watching you can make those changes without getting too worried about what the golf ball is doing.
Also, when making changes inside you have perfect weather, you always have a perfect lie and perfect lighting for any camera work. Your instructor will have the opportunity to make changes that might be uncomfortable and dramatic without affecting your enjoyment of the game.
Indoor practice is also a great opportunity to work on your putting. Again, you have perfect conditions and no fear of missing a putt or going into a two-week slump that would wreck a chunk of your golf season.
So if you have always wanted to make some changes and try to be more consistent during the summer, try finding a good instructor that has an indoor net and some good camera equipment.
The second great opportunity is to work on your golf fitness. The days of elite golfers never setting foot in a gym is long gone.
Although you may not be or want to be an elite golfer, a good fitness program will help you play better, longer and with less pain during and after your round.
There are many websites available to help you focus on certain aspects of your golf game. My favorite is mytpi.com.
The Titleist Performance Institute has many programs to help with your fitness. You can enter a part of your body you may be having trouble with or you can enter longer drives or more stability and they will have exercises that will help in those areas.
I started a fitness program a few years ago and wow has it shown its value. I hit the ball 10 to 20 yards further and am able to play longer during the season without pain.
My recovery after the round is better and it has contributed to much better ball striking and a more consistent shot pattern.
Please make sure you check with a knowledgeable health professional before starting any program, but if you are looking for a more enjoyable golf game this might be a good start for you.
The third opportunity is to work on the mental side of your game. Solidifying your pre-shot routine and working on the ability to focus is easily something that can be accomplished during the off-season.
Now with technology there are quite a few smart phone apps that are available to help with the ability to think positively and to focus.
Many of the sport psychologists have some apps that will steer you in the right direction and give you exercises that will strengthen your mental approach to the game.
Winter is still coming, but hopefully if you set some goals and start a program the winter will seem a little shorter and you will come flying out of the gate early next spring.
Larry Norland is the director of golf at Green Haven Golf Course in Anoka.