Q: It is way too icky out to play golf this month where I live. What can I do to keep my game from slip-sliding away?
New England golf instructors Jane Frost and Seth Dichard have some ideas about that. Dichard, who takes his practice indoors during the woefully long winter months in snowbound New Hampshire, believes you have no excuse for inactivity during the so-called offseason. “In fact,” he says, “it's sometimes the best time to re-evaluate your game to help play your best golf this coming season.”
Here are words of wisdom from Frost, Dichard, and others about how you can stay game-ready despite the snow, sleet, and other unmentionables keeping you off the course:
1. Because Dichard believes the best piece of equipment a golfer has is not a golf club but the body, he suggests you work with a certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) trainer. He’s not alone in that opinion. Bob Forman, director of The Golf Fitness Academy at High Point (N.C.) Regional, recommends you start with “a physical (re)assessment with a TPI-certified golf fitness instructor” to customize a time-efficient exercise program to help you “target your specific problem areas and maximize your outcomes.” Do that, and you’ll “come out in the spring with a body that is ready to rock and roll,” says Frost, a perennial top-10 golf instructor. (Visit MYTPI.com to find a certified professional.)
2. Work with a qualified instructor to improve areas of weakness. There’s no better time to improve and prepare the game for next season than the winter months, when there are no tournaments coming up, notes Dichard.
3. To keep muscle memory intact, hit balls a few times a month at an indoor facility (or outdoor range with heated bays). For better practice, Dichard suggests, rotate to different clubs to simulate a round of golf.
4. To improve your grip, alignment and posture, work on your set-up in front of a mirror. While you’re at it, Dichard recommends you make room somewhere in your home and swing a small club to rehearse your turns.
5. Because your short game is likely to go south as the weather up north worsens, chip inside with ping pong balls. It’s a safe way to work with wedges and fun to watch the ball spin like crazy, says Dichard.
6. To work on your putting stroke and distance control, place quarters at different distances on a rug that resembles the speed of a green and putt to each spot, says Dichard. Better yet, putt to a dime. “In the spring the hole will look HUGE!” Frost suggests. Check out EyelineGolf.com for cool putting toys, like the alignment system with mirror and rail, and, Frost says “you will be dropping putts like crazy.”
7. Don’t forget the mental game, Frost advises. “Visualize your greatest rounds” and check out books by Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson or Dr. Debbie Crews. “If the mind believes,” Frost says, “the body can achieve.”
8. Don’t let your clubs molder in the garage. Change your grips at least once a year, says Frost, who recommends you do it now to avoid the April crush.
This article first appeared in the February 2011 edition of GottaGoGolf Magazine.