While its good fun, great exercise, and one of the best excuses to spend a weekend with the boys, golf can be a tough sport to keep up with. As much fun as it is, it can be hard to find the time to play consistently, and it can put a dent in your pocketbook as well. Not to mention the seasonal aspect. For those of us not living in Florida or Arizona, golf is a highly seasonal sport. All the work that you put in to improve your swing over one season can all but disappear over the winter. Fortunately, there are some tried and true techniques to keep your game up even when you’re not able to put in regular appearances on the course.
Practice Makes Perfect
The first step to improving your golf game during the off season is to forget that the word off season exists. There is no golf off season. There is just a season, and a preseason. This critical difference is that once you get in the off-season mentality, you think that half of the year isn’t useful or important for training. With a preseason mentality, you realize that the entire year is essential for effective golf training. With that distinction out the way, it is simple to realize that you need to focus on practice drills year-round.
There are a plenty of drills that you can practice at home or in the backyard. The whole point of a drill is that it doesn’t involve actually hitting a ball at full power. You are focusing on the elements of the stroke. Michael Breed at the Golf Channel has a couple of great putting drills that you can do anywhere you have a golf, ball, a putter, and ten feet of toilet paper.
A great way to improve your distance control when putting is to grab a coin and put it in the cavity of your putter. Do not let the coin come out of the cavity during your stroke. This will prevent you from jerking the putter head back too quickly or accelerating too quickly and help you improve your overall tempo. To help you get your putts on line, roll out about 10 feet of toilet paper and make putts that roll on the paper.
By working on drills like this during the preseason, or just anytime that you aren’t able to make a full round at the course, you can not only keep your game up, but you can actually improve your ball control and swing discipline.
Keep Up the Pressure When You Practice
Even if you can’t justify the time for 18 holes every week, you should at least make a point of putting in a couple of hours at the driving range. In addition to the lower time commitment, a large bucket of balls will typically set you back about $10, maybe one quarter the price of a round of golf. You can also fit this in on a weeknight after work. However, just going to the driving range is not quite enough. You need to actually put in the effort once you get there.
David MacKenzie at golfstateofmind.com writes that the key to improving your game during practice sessions is actually creating mental consequences for a bad shot, much like you would get on the real course.
Create games for yourself involving beating your best score each time. A simple example would be to play a golf course on the driving range each time, reaching for different clubs and imagining holes and (excluding putting) totaling up your score, instead of just hitting to the same target over and over again (Ben Hogan used to do this). This is a basic example, but the concept is that you give yourself consequences to your shots, just like there is on the golf course.
By actually creating mental consequences, you’ll make your practice sessions feel more important, and you’ll also create a greater drive for yourself to succeed.
Work the Mental Game
Anyone who has played golf for a time knows that there is a significant mental component to golf. From the overall hole strategy to your specific pre-shot routine, you use your mind just as much as your body in a game of golf. And just because you can’t make it out to the course, whether due to time or due to weather, doesn’t mean that you can’t still keep your mental game sharp. 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.
The pre-shot routine is a vastly under-appreciated part of the mental game. By keeping an identical routine for every shot, you’ll quickly start to learn what works and what doesn’t work, and before long every shot will be landing exactly where you intend it to.
This seems like an obvious one – of course getting fit will help you improve your golf game. But there are certain exercises which will help you more than others. While any cardio and weight training will make your better suited to a long day on the course, training which helps with muscle coordination and balance will pay dividends in the form of better swing position, power, and accuracy.
Most great golf fitness programs are core based which creates stability in your golf swing. Most golfers seem to complain about back pain and I have to say with the use of Redcord with golfers the back pain goes away. A strong core and a strong back are critical to having an effective golf swing that can increase club head speed for power.
These are just the beginning. There are many more ways to improve your golf game without actually dedicating yourself to a weekly 18 holes. The two main keys are to realize that there is so much more to golf than real, on-course, practice, and that even if the weather isn’t suitable to play for months at a time, you can still make serious progress on your own.